Before we get into tonight’s game, the Rivermen made a few trades. The team sent Thomas Nitsche to the Penticton Vees for future considerations and acquired Austen Bietenbeck from the Surrey Eagles for future considerations. Nitsche, a 20 year old defenseman, played in 82 career games with the Rivermen racking up five goals and 21 assists to go along with 101 penalty minutes. He is a great kid and was a pleasure to deal with everyday and will flourish up in Penticton. The North Carolina native had a goal and seven assists this season and locked up a scholarship to Colgate for next year.
Bietenbeck is from Langley and is a 17-year-old defenseman. He appeared in 20 games for the Eagles this season and has one assist. He is big at 6’3″, 198 pounds and is still growing. The Rivermen feel he has a great future ahead of him and are very happy to have the hometown kid in their organization.
Now for tonight’s game it is the back half of a home and home set between the Rivermen and Express. Last night Langley handed Coquitlam a 6-1 loss in their home rink and played a fantastic road game, despite being out-shot 47-30. James Barr was all world earning first star honours and it really seemed the holiday break did him some good. Last night marked the first time the road team won a game in the season series and that gave Langley the edge overall at three wins to two.
The offense of the Rivermen has been phenomenal against the Express in the last two times they have met. The team has outscored them 14-4 and has been led by their top line of Puskarich, Campbell, and Robinson who have combined for 25 points in those two contests. The special teams has been tremendous in those games as well with the power play scoring on four out of six opportunities and the penalty kill has only allowed one goal on 10 Express tries.
Langley- GP: 32 Wins: 12 Losses: 14 Tie: 1 OTL: 5 Points: 30
Coquitlam- GP: 33 Wins: 16 Losses: 16 Tie: 1 OTL: 1 Points: 33
Langley- PP- 6th place 20.69% PK- 4th place 82.61%
Coquitlam- PP- 12th place 17.20% PK- 9th place 79.84%
WHO TO WATCH FOR:
Langley: James Robinson. He is the straw that stirs the drink on that top line. That 25 game goal less drought to start his career seems like ancient history as he has five goals in the last seven games and is now third in team scoring behind his two-line mates. His pure hustle and sheer will is something you cannot teach and I am confident scholarship offers will be flying his way very soon if it already has not happened.
Coquitlam: John Siemer. I can’t choose Phil Zielonka for a third straight game can I? He is only on a 12 game goal scoring streak and has a 19 game point streak overall going into tonight, but his line-mate in John Siemer is a big reason why. The team leader in scoring looked very dangerous last night and was on the verge of breaking out in a big way last night.
As it stands right now, the ‘Men are only three points back of the Express for fourth place and have a game in hand. Tonight’s game will be the last one in 2012 and getting another two points off the Express would be a big confidence booster for the team. If they can play anything like they did last night in Coquitlam they will be just fine, but you can bet that the Express will be coming out hard.
As always the game will be available to watch on Fasthockey PPV and can be heard live for free on our Ustream channel. It is a 7:15 PM puck drop from the Langley Events Centre.