The first road-trip of the season is upon the Langley Rivermen this weekend. After having a solid dose of home cooking to open the first 10 games of the season, the ‘Riv will be spending a lot of time with each other on this excursion to the interior.
“Trips like these ones is good for team bonding. We have a couple new faces in the room and will be a good opportunity for them to really get to know the guys. It is going to be nice to spend some quality time together as a group,” said Rivermen Head Coach and General Manager Bobby Henderson.
The ‘Riv remain in first place in the Mainland Division with a 7-3-0-0 record, but are coming off a tough loss last Sunday against the Chilliwack Chiefs, who staged a third period comeback. Coach Henderson admits that game has been addressed as a group and the focus is only on this weekend.
“A lot of talk within our team has been about the mindset. We weren’t happy giving up the lead at home against Chilliwack, but we have turned the page and are only worried about our opponents this weekend, starting Friday night in Trail.”
Friday (Oct. 16, 7:30pm) vs. Trail Smoke Eaters
It has been a struggle for the Smoke Eaters out of the gates early on this season. Currently they sit at the bottom of the Interior Division with a 4-7-0-0 record for eight points. However, they have been playing better of late, recording back to back wins last weekend over Prince George and Coquitlam, but did suffer a loss this past Wednesday to Vernon 5-1. Historic Cominco Arena is a tough building for opponents to play in and the ‘Smokies have proved that thus far with a 3-1 home record. The three games the ‘Riv have played all-time at Cominco have all been close battles. Each match-up has been one a goal game with Trail winning two of three in overtime.
Air Force commit, Nick Halloran leads the club in scoring with 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) in 11 games. Rookie 20 year-old net minder, Bailey MacBurnie has received the bulk of the work in goal with a 3-6-0 record to go along with a 3.47 GAA, and a .894 save percentage.
“Trail has been playing some pretty good hockey of late. They are coming off a rough one against Vernon a few days ago, but put together some wins before that. They always play us tough in their building and we expect them to come out hard,” said Henderson about tonight’s opponent.
Saturday (Oct. 17, 6:00pm) vs. Penticton Vees
Saturday night in Penticton will be the toughest test for the Rivermen so far this season. Coming into this weekend, the Vees are the top team in the BCHL with a sparkling 10-1-0-0 record and have the best goal differential at +25. After losing their first game of the season, they have rattled off 10 straight wins and have scored five goals or more in four of their last five games in October.
The Vees are a team on many scouts radar this season, with two potential first round NHL draft picks on their roster. Coquitlam native (and former Rivermen affiliate player) Dante Fabbro is projected to be a top 10 pick, while captain Tyson Jost is slated to go not too far behind his teammate. Jost is currently second in BCHL scoring with 23 points (9 goals, 14 assists) in 11 games, while Fabbro leads all BCHL defenseman with 16 points (5 goals, 11 assists) in 10 games.
Despite the Vees impressive numbers, Henderson is confident in his team’s ability and doesn’t think of it as a measuring stick type of game.
“I think we have a pretty good idea about where we stack up against them. We are expecting to go into that building and win a hockey game. In the past, it has been an intimidating place to play, but we have won there now and I believe our guys will give them a good game.”