The 14-6-1-2 Rivermen hope to build off a 2-1 win in Surrey on Monday with a chance to open up a three point lead over Prince George atop the BCHL’s Mainland division. Going 1-1-1 in their last three games, Langley is looking for some consistency now into the middle third of the season. The 9-9-0-2 Express are also coming off a win over the Eagles in their last game but went 0-4 in their previous four, a streak that was started with a 12-2 drubbing at the hands of the Rivermen back on October 24th.
With Prince George nipping at the Rivermen’s heals and hosting Surrey tonight, Langley needs a win over Coquitlam to guarantee they remain in first place.
Tonight’s game will feature a couple firsts for the Riv as newly acquired forward Gage Torrel makes his first appearance. Torrel began the season with the USHL’s Fargo Force where last year he put up 18 points in 59 games. The 19-year old Monticello, Minnesota native will wear number 3 in his Rivermen debut. Also playing in his first game with the Rivermen will be 15-year old defenceman Dante Fabbro. The 6’0″ 180 pound blueliner has three goals and 12 assists so far this season with the BC Major Midget Vancouver Northwest Giants and last year put up 78 points in 58 games with the Burnaby Winter Club Bantam A1 team. Fabbro also recently captained Team BC at the U16 Western Canada Challenge Cup in Calgary winning a silver medal and was named to the tournament all-star team with five points in four games.
Coming into tonight’s matchup, Marcus Vela carries a three game goal scoring streak which included the game winner Monday in Surrey. Viktor Dombrovskiy is also expected to make his return to the lineup having come back from the World Junior A Challenge where he earned a bronze medal with team Canada West. Forwards Evan Anderson, James Robinson, and Kevan Kilistoff will all miss game action due to injury while Captain Mitch McLain serves a one-game suspension.
The last time these two met was a forgettable one for the Express falling 12-2 to the Rivermen at the LEC on October 24th. 15 different Rivermen found the scoresheet while Steve Myland made 25 saves for the win as Langley outshot Coquitlam 47-27.
It’s already the fifth meeting of the season between the Riv and Express with Langley holding the season series edge 3-1 outscoring Coquitlam by a combined 22-13. After the Express took the first meeting of the year in the Riv’s home opener, Kilistoff scored the double overtime game winner the following evening at the Poirier Sports and Leisure Centre as Langley has won three straight over their division rivals.
Drive to the Net: The Rivermen need to do a better job of using their big forward bodies to drive hard to the net and cause trouble near the Coquitlam crease.
Breathe Deep: When on their game, the Rivermen are a formidable force with good scoring depth and solid puck-moving defencemen. Staying focused is key and if the goals don’t come early they just need to remember to remain patient and not grip their sticks too tight.
Forget the Last Meeting: 12-2 was in the past and means nothing today. You can bet the Express will have that one all over their dressing room bulletin board, however.