Home cooking was exactly what the Rivermen needed to get back into the win column. The Rivermen thumped the Coquitlam Express 8-3 at the Langley Events Centre on teddy bear toss night. It was the biggest game of 2012 for the ‘Men as they entered the night six points back of the Express with two games in hand. The top line of Puskarich, Campbell,and Robinson had a game for the ages combining for a mind-boggling 17 points. James Barr went up against Cole Huggins in between the pipes and it was Barr getting the better of his counterpart by the end of the night.
Coquitlam would open the scoring on a goal from John Siemer at the 8:30 mark. Siemer found a loose puck at the side of the net off of a point shot and smacked home the first goal of the game. Just before the 11 minute mark, Mario Puskarich got the teddy bears flying onto the ice as he put away his 19th of the year on a nice set up from Evan Campbell and James Robinson. The Rivermen continued to pour it on and ended up with their first lead of the game just before the 19 minute mark on a power play goal from James Robinson. The Alberta native redirected a Campbell shot from the right-wing for his second of the year. The ‘Men out shot the Express 14-8 in the opening period.
In the second period, Robinson would score another goal off a rush down the right-wing. His wrist shot hit a stick in front and bounced past Huggins who was then pulled from the game. With backup Daniel Urbani in the net, Matt Ustaski would get in on the scoring with his family in town from Illinois. Derek Sutliffe drove hard to the net and was taken down from behind and went sliding in to the goaltender knocking him down out of position. Ustaski was on the door step and slipped home his seventh of the season. The Express would not quit and scored a shift later from Philip Zielonka on a hard-working play down low. Zielonka continued his great play of late scoring in his 10th straight game and continued his overall point streak to 17 games.
The third period is really when the fun started. With a 4-2 lead going into the third period, James Robinson wanted to make sure his team would not give up the two goal advantage and scored his first career hat trick just 32 seconds in. The three goal lead would not last long as Mitch Fyffe stuffed home a loose rebound to cut the lead back to two. The lead would go back to three with Puskarich scoring his second of the night on a picture perfect snap shot top corner. Only a few players in the league could make that shot and Puskarich proved why he has one of the most deadliest shots in the BCHL. The Florida native would bag his hat trick goal on an effort that personified hard work. Puskarich chased down a bouncing puck and stripped a Coquitlam defender of the puck and skated in and put a shot stick side past Urbani. It was an unbelievable effort and had the fans in a frenzy when he put it in. Trevor Cope capped off the scoring on a power play goal shortly after.
By the time it was all said and done, it was three goals and three assists for Puskarich who took over the league lead in scoring. Three goals and two assists for Robinson and Campbell chipped in with a whopping six assists. With that victory, the ‘Men move to within four points of the Express and have two games in hand. As expected, that line swept the three stars.
Next up for the team is a home date against Harvey Smyl and the Chilliwack Chiefs Saturday night.