Despite a pretty solid game from the Rivermen, it was the Coquitlam Express who came out on top in game 1 of the Mainland division Final series with a 4-2 win.
Much like games 5 and 6 against Surrey, the Rivermen had a solid first period Friday night, despite allowing the game’s first goal which went against the flow as can so often be the case. But credit the Rivermen as well for not letting that early goal against stand in their way. Several more solid shifts followed and Cam Bertsch potted his first BCHL playoff goal in his second game in the lineup as an affiliate. Bertsch once again was a big energy guy for the Riv, and he plays his role extremely well. He’s fast and hard on pucks and outworks the opponent. He gets noticed in every game he plays and for the right reasons.
After the Riv outshot the Express 31-17 through the first two periods, it was the Express who came out with a purpose in the third scoring twice in the first nine minutes to open up a two goal lead. James Robinson got one back for the Rivermen finishing a nice play with Austin Azurdia for his first of the playoffs on a great release.
While the Riv looked for the tying goal, the Express got another one back with just over two minutes to go. The Rivermen ran out of time to claw back ending up finishing the game shorthanded.
Gordie Defiel made 36 saves in another very solid performance in net for the Express although that many shots does make his night look even better as the Rivermen didn’t test him as much as they could have. Shots from the outside and a lack of net front presence made Defiel’s ability to gobble up pucks easier. Not to take anything away from another outstanding goaltending performance, but again, burying on early chances and the Rivermen could have very well taken an early lead.
It’s a best-of-seven series for a reason and the Rivermen have a quick shot at redemption Saturday night with game 2 set for George Preston.
Innovative Fitness Langley 3 Stars
1 – Cody Boyd (2G)
2 – Cam Bertsch (1G, continues to add energy to the Rivermen lineup when called upon, an excellent game for the AP)
3 – Joey Santucci (2A)