The Langley Rivermen opened up their 2013 home schedule with a 4-3 overtime win against the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Sunday. It was the second and final meeting between the teams with Cowichan taking the first game 4-3 in double OT back in November. Darren Hogg would get his second straight start as James Barr was injured. The Capitals would throw in affiliate net minder Stephen Heslop.
The ‘Men got off to another fast start for a second straight night. Before the five-minute mark hit, Mario Puskarich added to his league lead in goals as he popped his 25th of the season on a perfectly placed wrist shot. The goal happened off the rush on a great cross ice pass from James Robinson and Puskarich had too much time and space and picked his spot to perfection. Derek Sutliffe would score just a few minutes later to make it 2-0. The tally was created by great hard work down low from Mitch McLain who dug free the puck behind the Cowichan net and found Sutliffe waiting in the slot. With under two minutes remaining, the ‘Caps would score back to back goals from Jarrett Brown and Teal Burns to even up the game after 20 minutes.
In the second period, the goaltenders were the story as both Hogg and Heslop stopped every shot they faced. There were two glorious opportunities for the Rivermen to score in the middle frame. Tanner Johnson fired one-off the crossbar during a delayed penalty, and Robinson was robbed by Heslop in the slot during a Langley power play.
With the score tied at 2-2 in the third, Mario Puskarich would score on the man advantage at the 7:52 mark. Puskarich controlled the puck at the top right circle and just slid the puck along the ice and beat a surprised Heslop between the five hole. However the lead would not last long as the Capitals tied it up on a goal from Tyler Mueller. The ‘Caps defenseman crossed the Langley line and took a long shot that beat Hogg beneath the glove.
Overtime was needed and in the extra period, Derek Sutliffe would be the hero. Mitch McLain did all the work as he drove hard down the right-wing and put the puck on goal for a rebound and Sutliffe was right on the door step for the game winner.
With that victory, the Rivermen have now won four games in a row and are unbeaten in their last five. Hogg would pick up his second straight win facing 30 shots.
Next up is two home games next weekend. The team will play host to the defending champion Penticton Vees on Saturday, followed by an afternoon game on Sunday against Surrey.