Rivermen Ground the Eagles

It might not have been as dramatic a finish as three weeks ago at the Birds Nest, but the Langley Rivermen earned a 4-3 win in South Surrey Friday night to finish their five game road stint at 3-2.

Aside from a disallowed Rivermen goal in the first half of the first period (the officials determined the net had been knocked clear off its moorings before the puck crossed the goal line), the start of Friday’s divisional tilt was relatively uneventful.  Both teams had a couple of moderately decent scoring chances and the shots were right about even.

The first power play of the game came late in the first when Surrey forward Braeden Russell was called for interference.  With just under 20 seconds left on the clock, James Robinson opened scoring with his third of the season from Viktor Dombrovskiy and Zach Urban, who earned his first point with the Riv.  The Eagles countered early in the second as Nicolas Pierog’s sixth beat Langley goaltender Steve Myland to even the score at one.  But the rest of the frame belonged to the Rivermen.  At the 8:58 mark, Nathan Craft scored in his first game back from injury, sliding a low shot past Victor Adamo to restore the one goal lead with Kevan Kilistoff picking up the lone assist.  Then just 85 seconds later, Mitch McLain beat Adamo with his fifth from Jakob Reichert to put Langley up by two.  Austin Azurdia made it a three goal lead with his fourth goal from Robinson and Will Cook as the Riv went up 4-1 with seven minutes to go in the middle frame.

While Langley knew the Eagles would come out hard in the third, it was Robinson who got the first quality scoring chance of the period although he would be denied on the shot from the left wing by Adamo.  The Eagles were awarded their first power play of the game shortly after when Craft was assessed a check to the head minor on an unfortunate play against the wall when he went in for a hit and the Surrey forward (who came away unscathed) bent over at precisely the wrong moment.  Regardless, the Eagles made the most of their opportunity closing within two on Danton Heinen’s power play marker.

Langley was able to slow the pace of the third down the stretch while still getting a few scoring opportunities, all the while limiting Surrey’s ability to sustain offensive pressure.  The Eagles pulled Adamo with about 90 seconds remaining down by two, but were unable to set up in the Rivermen zone.  After a draw just outside the Eagles zone which forced Adamo back into his net, Surrey rushed up ice and Heinen scored his second of the game pulling the home team within one with just 10 seconds on the clock.

The Eagles won the ensuing faceoff at centre ice but could not enter the Langley zone with any control in time as the Rivermen came away with their second straight road win.

With a goal and an assist, Robinson earned first star honours while McLain’s goal pushes his point streak to seven games.  The Rivermen and Eagles both finished with 25 shots as Myland earned his second straight win between the pipes in an impressive performance that included several highlight reel saves.  Langley’s power play went 1/3 while the Eagles also scored on one of three man advantages.

The win improves the Riv’s record to 5-3-0-1, two points behind the Mainland division leading Spruce Kings although Langley does hold a game in hand.  The Eagles travel to the Langley Events Centre Saturday night for the rematch as the Rivermen host just their second home game of the season, having played the fewest games on home ice of any team in the BCHL.  Puckdrop is set for 7:15pm.

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