The Rivermen finish up a five game road swing against their division rival Surrey Eagles tonight to kick off another three game weekend but this time, much closer to home.
In fact, the boys will be back at the Langley Events Centre for the first time in more than two weeks Saturday night for the back half of a home-and-home with the Eagles. But first things first, it’s a return to the South Surrey Arena where the Riv dropped a 5-4 game in double overtime back on September 13th. Langley is coming off a 1-2 Island road swing with a chance to finish the five game road stint above .500.
Steve Myland earned his first win in goal for the Rivermen last Sunday in Nanaimo and can be expected to see more action this weekend with James Barr still nursing an injury. The injury bug seems to be making its way through the Riv roster early this season as Evan Anderson and Travis Maxwell are also expected to remain out of the lineup while forward Nathan Craft hopes to make his return. Tonight’s tilt will be the first time in a Rivermen jersey for newly acquired defenceman Zach Urban who was traded to Langley earlier this week from Salmon Arm in exchange for Mark Whiteley. Urban will don number 5 while affiliate Quentin McShane will use number 3.
Riv Captain Mitch McLain is riding a six game point streak and leads the team with 12 points through 8 games, tied for sixth in league scoring. Austin Azurdia will look to keep his hot streak alive notching five points in the last three games.
It’s a big home-and-home for the Riv and Eagles with Surrey one point ahead of Langley in the Mainland division. The 4-3-0-1 Rivermen will need to have a solid penalty kill (or better yet avoid heading to the box much at all) with Surrey boasting the BCHL’s second best power play clicking at 25 percent. It may still be early in the season but these games can be oh so important in what may be another tight division come the end of February.