The Rivermen will get another chance to clinch a playoff spot if they can come away with a win this afternoon against PG. They can also get in if Coquitlam loses in regulation against Salmon arm today, but they don’t want to have to depend on that.
Last night it seemed tired bodies was the issue for Langley in the 4-1 loss. If I had to pick a difference in the contest I would have to say the first period. The Rivermen looked out of sync for the most part and did not have much sustained pressure in the offensive zone. When it came to the defensive side of things, there were some giveaways that we did not see during the three game win streak and it cost them.
This afternoon’s game will be the ninth and final meeting of the season. It is for all the marbles as the season series is all knotted up at 4-4, although, Langley does have 10 points through the eight games, while the Spruce Kings have eight points. If I had to pick a team that is Langley’s biggest rivalry i think I would choose PG right now. It seems like after every whistle a scrum ensues and if it is not the players on the ice yapping at each other it is the benches. A playoff series between these two teams would be off the charts!
The Spruce Kings no longer have anything to play for. They know they will be in Chilliwack for game one in the first round of the playoffs on March 15th as they sealed up third place in the Mainland after the win last night. According to the Spruce Kings Crusader blog, they will be without two key forwards after going down last night. Cam Lawson was hurt in the second period and did not return after going down awkwardly along the boards in the Langley zone. That is a key loss as he has very good numbers against the Rivermen in his career. The other that went down, but did return was Jace Hennig. The former Express forward went hard into the end wall after getting tangled up with a Rivermen defenseman going after a loose puck. He went to the dressing room to get looked at and eventually came back to finish the game, but after further evaluation he will be held out today.
Langley looks like they will get Jakob Reichert back in the line-up after he missed last nights game with the flu. His big body will be a welcome addition in a small rink like the Prince George Coliseum.
Langley- 4th place in Mainland. GP: 53 Wins: 23 Losses: 24 Tie: 1 OTL: 5 Points: 52
Prince George- 3rd place in Mainland. GP: 54 Wins: 25 Losses: 20 Tie: 1 OTL: 8 Points: 59
WHO TO WATCH FOR:
Langley- James Robinson. He is goal-less in his last nine games and I am going with him because he is due. He has been working too hard not to be rewarded and when he scored his first of the season back on December 2nd, I predicted he would get to 10, so c’mon James! He is tied for third in team scoring with 35 points.
Prince George- Shayne Morrissey. He has three goals and three assists in his last three games against the Rivermen. Expect him to see more ice-time than usual with both Lawson and Hennig out of the line-up. He is small at 5 foot 9, but is very fast and skilled and is dangerous out on the power play. He has 19 goals and 15 assists this season.
It will be the third game in three days for both teams when the puck drops today. Although for Langley it feels like they are playing their fourth game in three just due to the travel schedule. We will see what a good night sleep in an actual bed will do for the team.
In between the pipes it will be James Barr going up against Liam McLeod. Kirk Thompson will get a much deserved night off after picking up first star honours. Barr was pulled in the third period after the Staley goal in order do give him a rest for today. McLeod on the other hand has appeared in 13 games and has a record of 1-7 and a goals against of 4.33. He is only 16 years though and from all accounts played well in his last start in Coquitlam a week ago, but just did not get any offense.
It will be a 3:00 PM face off from the Coliseum and can be seen on Fasthockey PPV( http://www.fasthockey.com) or on our free Ustream channel(www.ustream.tv/channel/langley-rivermen-hockey).