‘Smokies cue comeback over Rivermen once again

The Langley Rivermen welcomed the Trail Smoke Eaters to the Langley Events Centre on Sunday Afternoon. It was the second and final meeting of the year between the two teams as Trail won the first one in December 6-5 in double OT at the Cominco Arena. Both of them were playing their third game in three days and it was especially tough on Trail who made their way to the Mainland after playing Friday and Saturday night on the Island. Darren Hogg would receive the start for Langley, while Lyndon Stanwood was Trail’s starter.

The Rivermen got off to a good start as Matt Ustaski opened the scoring at the 2:15 mark. The rookie centre was able to get a pass from Trevor Cope and banked it off Stanwoods leg and into the goal. Shortly after Trail would tie the game on a power play goal from Jesse Knowler. Hogg made a stop on a sharp angle shot, but could not spot the rebound in time and Knowler jammed it in. That would be all the goal scoring in the period as Hogg and Stanwood shut the door the rest of the frame.

In the second period, Mark Whiteley would score his fourth goal of the season to take a 2-1 lead. Whiteley took a pass from Austin Azurdia and fired a shot toward the goal that went off a Trail defender and into the back of the net. Exactly two minutes later, Scott Davidson would finish off a perfectly executed give and go with Garrett McMullen to even up the score at 2-2. The Rivermen peppered Stanwood in the middle stanza with 17 shots only beating him once.

For the third straight period, the ‘Men would score early on. With Langley on the power play, Darren Hogg would stop a short-handed breakaway from Tyler Berkholtz and back the other way the Rivermen went and Evan Anderson roofed home a beautiful back hand shot to get the lead at 3-2. Just past the 11 minute mark, Trail would tie the game once again on a tally from Adam Wheeldon on a scramble in front of Hogg. With less than eight minutes to go, Mario Puskarich would get hauled down on a breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot. The league’s leading scorer would try a fancy one hand move trying to catch Stanwood sliding the wrong way, but was denied. In the late stages, the Rivermen would get caught with too many men on the ice and the Smoke Eaters capitalized on the man advantage.Brent Bultus would spot Braden Pears coming in off the point and he made no mistake beating Hogg for the go ahead goal. With the goalie pulled, Trail would take a penalty making it a 6 on 4 for the Rivermen, but the home team could not put anything by Stanwood and the game would end in ‘Smokies favour.

Stanwood would earn the games first star facing 48 shots and was clutch in the third period for his team. Langley’s special teams was not up to par going 1/6 on the power play and allowed two goals against shorthanded. Hogg played well, but was charged the loss turning aside 35 pucks.

It was a very tough result for the Rivermen, but give the Smoke Eaters credit, they sure are scrappy bunch. The game had a lot of emotion and if you did not know it, you would think they play each other on a regular basis.

Just by watching the game you can tell both teams were playing their third game in three days. The play was sloppy to put it nicely for the most part and there were a ton of unforced errors from both clubs.

The Rivermen will have to sit on this loss for the next six days as they do not play until next Saturday in Surrey.

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