The end result Friday wasn’t the home cooking the Rivermen were looking for.
The Coquitlam Express spoiled Langley’s home opener breaking open a tight game in the third period en route to the 6-2 win, their third straight, and first game for the Riv this season without gaining at least a single point.
The stats from Friday, however, do not do justice for the Rivermen who had several key things going for them. Special teams was a clear bright spot for Langley who went 1/3 on the man advantage with Captain Mitch McLain scoring his 2nd of the season tying the game at one in the second. McLain also had the best chance of either team during a 5 minute Coquitlam power play in the first period when the puck appeared to roll on him just as he fired it toward Express tender Gordie Defiel launching it over the net. The Rivermen’s PK was very good going 5/6 including killing off the full five minute major assessed to James Robinson for a blow to the head on Joey Santucci who returned later in the first.
Brendan Gulka got the 2300 plus fans at the LEC out of their seats as he earned the takedown in a tilt with Coquitlam defenceman Cal Hoffard.
But for my money, the top player for Langley in the game was Tony Bretzman. The rookie from Mendota Heights, Minnesota showed incredible poise with the puck and clearly has a high hockey IQ. Whenever he did jump up offensively he never cost his team and he made crsip, smart passes all night, and rightfully earned the Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game.
New acquisition Charlie Pelnick also looked pretty good Friday especially considering he barely had any time to gel with his new teammates in a league he’s never played in before, not an easy task for any player let alone a defenceman on a team with two others out of the lineup (Chris Forney, Travis Maxwell).
The Rivermen might have had their home opener spoiled Friday by the visitors from north of the Fraser, but you can bet on Langley being all the more eager to derail the Express’ own home opener Saturday to give them a little taste of their own medicine.