The bad news last night was a 2-1 loss for the Rivermen in Merritt. The good news is the Riv get a quick shot at redemption hosting the Centennials tonight at the Langley Events Centre.
The loss at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena was pretty much par for the course for the Rivermen who have yet to record more than one goal in a game against the Cents in five all-time meetings. In fact, the Riv are still looking for their first win against the Cents either in Merritt or at the LEC with the only franchise victory coming at this year’s BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack. There were certainly some good things from the Rivermen last night as Steve Myland made 27 saves including a couple highlight reel stops in the third to keep Langley in the game. Marcus Vela scored his second of the season as his line with Brendan Gulka and the newly-signed Liam McDermott were the best for the Riv. McDermott should have been given an assist on the goal as he made a nice pass along the boards to Vela who blew past a Cents defenceman before rifling the puck past Devin Kero.
Even though the Riv struck first and shut down the league’s top-ranked power play, they were unable to get any more offensive production. The Langley penalty kill is now second in the league at 86.9% and tops on home ice at 89.5%. Giving up an average of four power plays per game the last three games the Rivermen are doing a much better job of staying disciplined which will once again be key tonight.
We look back just a matter of hours to last night’s 2-1 loss in Merritt. The Nicola Valley Arena is always a tough barn to play in with its ridiculously small playing surface but it’s certainly never an excuse. The Riv fired a respectable 28 shots on Kero but far too many of them were from the perimeter and nobody seemed willing to drive to the net aside from Captain Mitch McLain whose goal was disallowed after the referee said it was kicked in (Okay).
Last night’s victory evened up the season series at one while the Centennials improve to 4-1 all-time against the Rivermen. In those five games the Cents have outscored Langley by a combined 12-3 while three of the five games have ended in a shutout. Both meetings between the two so far this season have been decided by a single goal.
Play With Awareness: Aside from poor shot selection, ill-advised passes and turnovers not only gave the Centennials increased time in the Rivermen zone but prevented Langley from advancing up ice. Playing on the larger, regulation ice surface at home will certainly help but playing smarter overall is critical for success.
Get Under Their Skin: Devin Kero had a pretty easy time between the pipes in Merritt last night despite facing 28 shots. More bodies in his crease and making life difficult for the Cents defencemen should add to increased scoring chances and maybe a few more power plays.
Better Shot Selection: Not to flog a dead horse, but this one does speak for itself.
Opening face-off tonight at the LEC is set for 7:15! We will have a special ceremony to honour our veterans during this Remembrance Day weekend. And any minor hockey player wearing their jersey will also receive a free ticket to tonight’s game! Can’t make it? Watch live at http://bchl.fasthockey.com/login.php or listen at http://mixlr.com/langleyrivermenhockey