After dropping two in a row against the Merritt Centennials, the 13-6-1-2 Langley Rivermen look to salvage a .500 long weekend with a win against the 9-13-1 Eagles in South Surrey this afternoon. The Rivermen enter the game one point back of Prince George for first in the Mainland division although with two games in hand on the Spruce Kings while the Eagles currently sit fourth.
While there were certainly some positives to take out of the home-and-home with the Cents (Marcus Vela’s offensive explosion and solid goaltending to name a couple), the Riv as a team were far from their best. But once again, luckily, there is little time to reflect on the past before a shot at redemption.
Another positive from Saturday night was the Rivermen special teams units. The penalty kill was perfect for the fourth straight game and sits atop the BCHL at 87.1%. It helps the Riv have also done a much better job staying out of the penalty box now having given up only eight power plays in the last three games. As for the power play, Mitch McLain’s goal Saturday night was the only Langley tally on the man advantage in the back-to-back with Merritt. The Riv power play is still anemic sitting 15th in the league at 15.5%. The Eagles are slightly better at 17.4% but the Surrey penalty kill sits 14th at just 78.1%
Back on October 12th the Rivermen came away with a 3-1 win at the Langley Events Centre, at the time the Riv’s sixth straight victory. Both goaltenders were strong as Brock Crossthwaite turned aside 18 shots earning second star honours while Surrey’s Bo Didur earned the game’s third star with 22 saves on 24 shots (Nathan Craft scored an empty-netter).
This afternoon marks the fifth meeting between Surrey and the Rivermen this season as Langley holds the season series edge 3-1 having outscored the Eagles 16-10. Langley has won their last three meetings with the Eagles having collected points in all four matchups this year with a double-overtime loss September 13th.
Consistent High Tempo: The Riv were unable to maintain an up-tempo, hard hitting game for 60 minutes each of the past two. If they start with energy and keep it up the entire game the Eagles will be hard pressed to match that level of intensity.
Drive to the Net: As one of the league’s biggest offences, the Rivermen have a huge advantage in physical strength. If they power to the crease and look for rebounds in tight, they’ll likely not only be able to tuck in some loose pucks but also get under the skin of the Eagles defenders.