Despite holding a lead atop the BCHL’s Coastal Conference, the Langley Rivermen bolstered their roster this past week, making a pair of trades, separately acquiring Walker Gelbard and Garrett Valk from two Interior Conference teams.
The first acquisition for Rivermen head coach and general manager Burt Henderson involved acquiring Walker Gelbard from the Cranbrook Bucks in exchange for future considerations. The 2005 born, 5’10, 170-pound forward who grew up in West Vancouver comes to Langley looking to cement himself as an elite goal scorer for years to come. He plied his trade in the CSSHL with West Van Hockey Academy, before playing with the Vancouver North West Hawks of the BCEHL in their shortened exhibition season last year.
With teams needing bodies for the BCHL Pod last season, the Cranbrook Bucks brought him in to play with his brother Hayden in the Penticton Pod last year. Walker had registered two goals and seven assists in 12 games, before leaving with an injury. His strong play in the Pod last year earned him a spot on Cranbrook full time this year as a 16 year old, registering one goal and three assists in 22 games played before the trade.
Expect Walker to bring a speedy and skillful side to this already dangerous Rivermen forward group,
“Overall I have heard nothing but good things about the Rivermen organization, I played under Burt before and it is a great group of guys in Langley, I am really excited to get things going.” Gelbard said when asked about joining the Rivermen.
The second trade was for 19 year old, 6’3, 205 defenseman Garrett Valk from the Trail Smoke Eaters, also for future considerations. Another local talent, Valk began his minor hockey at the North Shore Winter Club, before transitioning to West Van Hockey Academy. He, like Walker Gelbard played for the Hawks, collecting six goals and 13 assists in 37 games played in the 2018-19 season. His strong play led him to become an affiliate player with the Chilliwack Chiefs in that same season, and then a full-time player in the 2019-20 season.
He then joined the Smoke Eaters for the last 2 seasons, collecting a total of nine points (8 assists) in 79 career BCHL regular season games to date.
Hockey runs in the Valk family, as Garrett’s father Gary played for five NHL teams, including some time with the Vancouver Canucks, then featuring as an analyst on Sportnet’s Canucks intermission panels post career.
“As a kid, I was lucky enough for him to coach me in Pewee and spring camp and even to this day going on the ice and working on development skills with him.” Valk said about the impact his dad has had on his hockey career.
Garrett will bring a physical and puck moving style to the Rivermen defense, already one of the top defensive groups in the BCHL.
“I have experience playing in this league, and I want to help them make a deep run, this is a team that has bought into their roles and they are a championship team.”
Gelbard collected an assist in his Rivermen debut this past Saturday against the Chiefs, while you can expect Valk to debut in Langley’s next game in Nanaimo on January 15th. the Rivermen are back at home on Wednesday, January 26th against the Coquitlam Express, you can get your tickets at https://www.langleyrivermen.com/single-game-tickets.