The Langley Rivermen got back in the win column with a 5-1 win over the first place Victoria Grizzlies on Sunday afternoon. The team was in the midst of a five game losing streak entering the game and the ‘Men took full advantage of a Grizzlies squad who was playing their third game in three days. James Barr would receive his fourth straight start for the Rivermen, while Michael Stiliadis got the call for the ‘Grizz.
The Grizzlies came out flying in the first few minutes, but James Barr was able to weather the storm and make a few key stops to keep it scoreless. The Rivermen would build off that momentum and opened the scoring on a power play goal from Mario Puskarich. The veteran winger made a spectacular toe drag move around a Victoria defender in the high slot and ripped a snap shot along the ice for his 15th goal of the year. The Rivermen were out shot 12-6 in the opening frame, but would take a 1-0 lead into the second period. It was a fantastic period for James Barr as the coaching staff hoped he would bounce back after Saturday nights loss in Alberni Valley and he responded perfectly.
The second period would be the best 20 minutes of hockey of the weekend for the Rivermen. Just over the four-minute mark , James Robinson would score his much anticipated first BCHL goal. The Alberta native has been snakebitten all season long, but he was able to take a pass from Evan Campbell off his skate and ended up in the back of the goal. Not how he drew it up, but he would definitely take it. Robinson was not done hitting the score sheet as shortly after he stripped a Victoria player of the puck in the attacking zone and set up Evan Anderson for his third goal in a Rivermen uniform. That play was hard work personified as Robinson did not stop moving his feet the entire shift and put a picture perfect pass on the tape of Anderson. The ‘Men would cap off the scoring with 40 seconds left courtesy of Puskarich who potted home his second of the game on the power play again. Thomas Nitsche fired a one timer that missed the net,but the puck took a lively hop off the end boards and landed right on the stick of Langley’s leading scorer who was all alone in the slot with an empty net.
With a commanding 4-0 lead entering the third period, the Grizzlies had a great start to the last period scoring 17 seconds in on a goal from Myles Powell. However that would be it for the Grizzlies for the rest of the game and Austin Azurdia made sure he iced the game in his teams favour as he buried Langley’s third power play goal of the contest with under seven minutes to go.
It was a complete sixty minute hockey game from the ‘Men, which is something that has been missing in the last handful of games. The power play found its stride going 3/5, while the penalty kill managed to kill off all five Victoria power plays. Barr would earn first star honours facing 35 shots.
It was Langley’s first regulation road win of the season and a big one at that as they are now five points back of the Express for fourth place. Hopefully for Rivermen fans, the team can use this game as a turning point and continue to push for a playoff spot.