The Langley Rivermen and Coquitlam Express played one last time in 2013 on Tuesday night at the Langley Events Centre. Coming in to the game the Rivermen owned the season series winning the last five games against the Express and had an overall win advantage at 5-2. It was a big game in the standings as Coquitlam was only three points back of Langley for that fourth and final playoff spot. James Barr would go up against Cole Huggins for a seventh time in a row between the pipes.
The Rivermen got off to a great start as Ben Butcher opened the scoring just past the four-minute mark. The Bellingham native was serving a penalty for James Barr and when it expired, he came right out of the box took the puck down the right-wing and fired home his 10th goal of the year. The 1-0 lead would last 10 minutes before Evan Campbell would put away his 12th of the season on a pretty passing play. Evan Anderson found Mario Puskarich at the side of the goal who then centred a pass to Campbell who made no mistake. James Barr was sharp in the opening period stopping all 11 shots he faced.
In the second period, the Express would get one by him on a goal from Adam Rossignol on a great pass on a rush from Justin Georgeson. The 2-1 game was short-lived however, as Jakob Reichert would find the back of the net. The whole play was started on a long break out pass from none other than James Barr. Langley’s puck stopper saw Coquitlam was changing and fired a long pass to Austin Azurdia at the attacking blue line and then found Reichert on the left-wing who put it five-hole on Huggins. The next time Reichert was out on the ice he would score again. This time James Robinson picked the pocket of Cam Marks behind the Express net and spotted Azurdia in front who was stopped by Huggins with the right pad, but Reichert followed up and slid the rebound into the goal to make it 4-1. With less than two minutes to go, Derek Sutliffe would cap off the second period scoring on a giveaway in front of the Express crease to put his team up by four.
In the third period, back up goaltender Daniel Urbani would come in to replace Huggins. At the 12:39 mark, Austin Azurdia and Ben Butcher would connect on a pretty passing play on the man advantage. Azurdia was in the slot and fed Butcher down near the right post and went to the net and got a sweet no-look pass back from Butcher between his legs and tapped in his 15th goal of the campaign. Viktor Dombrovskiy would score the last goal of the game on a great individual effort going end to end and roofing a shot over Urbani from the high slot.
It was a convincing win for the Rivermen as they picked up a big two points in a 7-1 final. James Barr was fantastic and was named the game’s first star turning away 46 shots on the night. The Rivermen are now five points clear on the Express and will welcome the Victoria Grizzlies to town on Friday night, which will be the second annual “Parents Weekend and Silent Auction”.