It’s been an intense season series between the Rivermen and their division rivals north of the Fraser, and tonight should be no different as the Coquitlam Express make their final visit to the LEC this regular season. It’s the eighth and final meeting between the two with the previous seven meetings providing pretty much anything you could expect. An average of over eight and a half combined goals per game, fights, penalties galore, and several overtimes have made sure this division rivalry has lived up to its billing.
The Rivermen have 24 of their last possible 28 points, have an eight point lead atop the Mainland division, and with a win tonight would vault back into first place overall in the BCHL and pull within one point of securing their first ever division title.
The Express haven’t enjoyed the same level of consistency with a roller-coaster season, although they have had a good deal of success when playing Langley, that 12-2 drubbing at the hands of the Rivermen aside. The Express are entrenched in the third division seed for the playoffs, well clear of the fourth place Surrey Eagles, but too far behind second place Prince George. It just comes down to who will be playing who. This may be the final meeting between the Rivermen and Express this regular season, but there’s a chance the two may meet yet again when it matters most.
The last time these two met was back on December 29th when the Rivermen fell 3-2 to the Express in Coquitlam. Tyson Witala scored both Rivermen goals, his first two with Langley. It was the second straight loss to the Express kicking off the post-Christmas schedule with a 6-5 overtime loss in Langley the night before.
The Express hold the season series edge 4-3 coming into tonight’s final battle while the Rivermen have outscored the Express 32-28 in those seven meetings. Coquitlam has won the last three in a row.
Stick to the Game Plan: The Express enjoy lulling opposing teams into a run and gun style of game with their talented offence. The Rivermen simply need to play their own brand and let the Express deal with that. Langley’s forward speed and size usually takes care of itself and solid play in the Rivermen’s own zone can keep Coquitlam’s top six forwards in check.
Stay Disciplined: It’s been a fiesty season series between the Rivermen and Express with tempers flaring often. Avoiding any unnecessary penalties will be key.
Special Teams: If there’s been any matchup this season that has seen special teams determine a game’s outcome, it’s been this one. Take advantage of power play chances and watch out for Coquitlam’s penalty killers and the outcome for Langley should be a good one.
Puck drop is 7:15pm at the LEC. Watch the game live at http://bchl.fasthockey.com/login.php or listen at http://mixlr.com/langleyrivermenhockey/me/