4 games in 6 days for the Rivermen saw the team bolster their record and move into a tie for the top spot in the BCHL. With that not being the goal heading into Tuesdays tilt against the West Kelowna Warrior, we’ll take it, given the way we moved up the standings.
We caught up with Assistant Coach Stefano Ruscitti for his thoughts on the week and the teams performance.
“We have such a culture and identity as a group that this is a team oriented project. We know we are not going to have success from a development and team stand point by not playing the way we play. Were a 4 line hockey team, everyone contributes and I think thats evident, yes sometimes your top guys step up and lead the way, but we rely on our depth to the same extent. Look no further than Sundays game, 7-2 win with 7 different goal scorers, guys playing the right way and they get rewarded for that.”
We went though the week with the first year Rivermen Assistant Coach starting in West Kelowna:
‘West K is a good hockey team, we knew we wouldn’t get a 5-0 lead on them like we did last time, after taking the lead early on in the second we got undisciplined, we got the game within reach in the 3rd cutting their lead to 1, but then the parade to the penalty box began again falling up short losing 5-2 with 2 empty net goals.”
How did the team bounce back to face an undefeated team in Penticton?
“Same way we would any other night, started preparation when the buzzer went. Left that game at that rink, got a good meal, good sleep and it was on. Its all about mindset, we knew we could make up some ground within our division and really send a message to our group. All we asked from them was effort, give the effort play the right way and well be rewarded. The game against the Vee’s was awesome, they’re a great team but our guys knew when we were on the ice, all 5 guys had to be on the same page. Trevor St. Jean sniped one early on and Ethan Leyh out worked 2 maybe 3 checks down low before tucking the puck into the net for the game winner.”
Day off Thursday, practice Friday, Chilliwack Saturday. Mindset of the team going into that game?
“Excited, thats a fun rink to play in, especially when you have a little motivation (#cookies) our guys knew the task at hand, they had gained some momentum and knew what was at stake. I don’t think anyone in that building was expecting a 4-0 lead but our guys wanted it, they were hungry for it. Eric Butte got us going before Angus Crookshank on a 2 on 1 sniped a far side snapshot, Ethan Leyh found the net in back to back games wiring one on the PP that found its way through and then Carter Stephenson with a lazer from the blue line again on the PP. Not before some dramatics took place, a no goal got reversed and momentum began to swing. But, we’ve been in that position before this year, quite a few times and our guys learned from previous occasions to close this one out 4-3.”
15 hours later you take on Cowichan who was on game 3 in two and a half days. You know you can’t take them lightly how was that approached.
“Its all about habits, its a long season. Wouldn’t have mattered if it was us playing a 10 man roster. We have a way we play and a way we prepare. Part of being a professional is preparation and thats what we are instilling in our guys. Thankfully we did because they’re a great hockey team. Their record doesn’t reflect them as a group and neither did the score.”
The Riv get a much deserved few days off before reconvening their season on Saturday October 28 against the Prince George Spruce Kings, and then again on Sunday as the Alberni Valley Bulldogs are in town for a 2pm puck drop. Join us for both games at The Lodge.