The Langley Rivermen showed no signs of rust playing their first game back from the holiday break. With an 11 day break between games, the team walked into Coquitlam and handed the Express a 6-1 defeat. It was their second win against their division rivals in two weeks. James Barr got his 10th straight start in-goal for the ‘Men, while Cole Huggins got the call for the Express.
Coquitlam came out flying out of the gates and had a 4-0 shot advantage before the game was even a couple of minutes old. However Langley weathered the storm and opened up the scoring on the power play from Ben Butcher. With time running out on the man advantage, Viktor Dombovskiy spotted an open Butcher on the right side and snapped a quick shot past Huggins for his seventh of the year. 19 seconds later Derek Sutliffe made it a 2-0 score on a rebound goal in front of the Coquitlam goalie. Huggins made a couple of nice stops on McLain and Reichert, but could not stop the third opportunity from Sutliffe in close. With under five minutes to go in the period the Express got on the board on a power play goal from the red-hot Phil Zielonka. The Quebec native took the puck around the goal and fired a wrist shot beneath the blocker of Barr and extended his goal streak to 12 games and his point streak to 19. It was a very entertaining opening period as both teams fired 15 shots a piece.
The second period was a lot more tame with only one goal scored. It came from Rivermen forward James Robinson on the power play. The Calgary Edge product took a nice pass from Puskarich down the left-wing on a rush and muscled home a back hand shot over the left pad of Huggins. Barr was busy yet again in the frame turning away 15 shots, while Langley had just five on Huggins.
With a two goal lead going into the third period, the Rivermen saved their best period for last. BCHL leading scorer Mario Puskarich put away his 23rd goal of the year on a perfectly executed two on one with James Robinson. A few minutes later Mitch McLain jammed home a loose puck in the crease for his second point of the game. Coquitlam would have three power plays before the 15 minute mark, but could not capitalize on any of them. With under three minutes to go, former Express forward Evan Campbell put his old team away on a beautiful snap shot down the right-wing that beat Huggins clean over the left shoulder.
In the end James Barr would be the story facing 47 shots picking up the win and first star honours. Puskarich would bag four points and padded his lead in the goal and points race and received second star, while Robinson was the third star with a goal and an assist.
The special teams department was a key factor all game long as the power play went 2/4 and the penalty kill was even more solid killing 5/6.
With the win the Rivermen now move to within three points of the Express for fourth place. The Rubber match will be tomorrow at the Langley Events Centre at 7:15.