Heading into the holiday home-and-home with the Express, the Langley Rivermen were looking at the very least for a split with hopes of a three or four point weekend. At the end of the day it turned out to be a one-point series for Langley and a disappointing return to BCHL action.
But having said that it wasn’t a concerning weekend, again, so much as just disappointing. The Rivermen weren’t at their best but it also wasn’t for lack of effort. Too many penalties combined with missed opportunities resulted in the Coquitlam sweep with the Express now leading the season series 4-3. The two won’t meet again until February 18th at the LEC.
Sunday afternoon in Coquitlam was eerily similar to the previous night in Langley as The Express took advantage of the Riv’s lack of discipline with a pair of first period power play goals to lead 2-0 after one. Early in the second, however, Langley answered back as Tyson Witala got his first with the Rivermen at the 3:37 mark backhanding his own rebound past Pierce Dushenko. But just over a minute later, Marc Biega got his second of the game and fifth of the weekend to restore the two-goal Express lead. Midway through the frame, however, Witala struck again on the power play as he grabbed the puck after it hit the end boards off a Tony Bretzman shot and tucked it in past Dushenko short side to pull Langley within one yet again.
Despite two third period power plays, the Rivermen couldn’t find the tying marker this time as they failed to secure at least a point for the first time in five games falling to 22-12-1-4, still three points up on Prince George but the Spruce Kings do hold three games in hand. The Rivermen were outshot 31-21 Sunday including 7-4 in the third. While Langley did go 1/4 on the power play the man advantage wasn’t at its best. Brock Crossthwaite made 28 saves and was very good between the pipes for the Riv.
Langley has a big three-game weekend coming up including a pair of division games Friday and Saturday and will need the rebound to get back on track and stay atop the division.
Bretzman’s assist has the defenceman riding a four-game point streak while Witala’s first two markers with the Riv gives him nine on the season for a total of 17 points in 24 games including his time with Trail to start the season. Working on a line with Will Cook and Gage Torrel, the veteran from Prince George has already been a nice addition to the Rivermen.
Langley is on the road again Friday night to face the Chiefs in Chilliwack at 7:00pm.