The Rivermen made a statement Monday night in a complete game effort that saw an early lead built upon with no let up to earn a 5-0 shutout win over Coquitlam to cut into the Express’ series lead which is now 2-1 in the best-of-seven Mainland Division Final.
After a quieter start to the series, Jakob Reichert led the way in game 3 with his fourth goal of the playoffs just 22 seconds in. He stayed with the puck from behind the Coquitlam goal, skated it out to the top of the crease and slid it far side past Gordie Defiel’s left pad. It was the kind of goal the Rivermen knew they’d need to score to have success in this series and it came off a hard working shift with Kevan Kilistoff and Austin Azurdia getting bodies around the crease.
Game 3 marked the first playoff appearance for Will Cook as he made his return to the Riv lineup after suffering an upper body injury that kept him out for more than three weeks. Cookie is the kind of player whose absence seems to be magnified because of all the little things that he does well within the game. Not to mention he has been a big part of the Rivermen’s offence this season and his insertion to the lineup was definitely a huge boost for the team. His impact was felt almost immediately as he scored on the power play getting a feed from James Robinson and finding the back of the net, sniping after being left alone in the low slot. The way Cook played all night it sure didn’t look like he had missed a beat. His speed was there and so was his timing.
Kilistoff got his second point of the night putting a backhand shot past Defiel making it 3-0 on six shots midway through the first. In a way it was as if the Express didn’t know what had hit them. With the two points, Kilistoff has hit the scoresheet in five of his last six games and is playing on a tear this post-season.
The Riv kept the pedal down and built off the momentum they developed early in the second when Azurdia got his fourth, on the power play streaking in from the left side to pounce on a Robinson rebound.
Midway through the third, a Tanner Johnson shot went off Mitch McLain’s skate and in. An officials conference had to determine whether or not the goal would count as the net came off its moorings while there also could have been a kicking motion concern as well, although neither were the case and the goal would stand.
The Riv power play finally clicked in game 3 going 2/6 while the Express failed to convert on five man advantages. Crossthwaite continues to provide solid goaltending earning his second playoff shutout in his fifth win with 24 saves. The Riv also played excellent team defence not giving Coquitlam’s forwards much to look at.
It’s a series now with the Rivermen attempting to even things up in game four Tuesday night. A repeat effort from game three and there’s a very good chance we’ll be headed for yet another visit in Coquitlam Friday night for game six.
Innovative Fitness Langley 3 Stars
1 – Kevan Kilistoff (1G, 1A, excellent at both ends continuing to play his best when it’s needed most)
2 – Jakob Reichert (1G, 1A, led by example and played with his size and skill as he normally does)
3 – Brock Crossthwaite (Shutout Win, 24 saves, continues to play superbly in goal)