Three games remain before the team hits the Christmas break, and all three matchups will be at the Langley Events Centre beginning tonight. The Riv will be looking to forget about what happened last weekend, when they lost 7-4 to Vernon on Saturday, and a day later went into Surrey and tied the Eagles 3-3. Six big points are up for grabs this weekend, as the Rivermen remain in third place in the Mainland Division with an 18-13-1-0 record for 37 points. They trail second place Wenatchee by eight points and are just four points up on Coquitlam, who they will face on Saturday night.
“Last weekend we did not get off on the right foot in our game vs Vernon. It was our second game in 14 days and we did not look to be in game mode. We knew Vernon is a well-coached team with good skill up front and our lack of mental sharpness showed early. In Surrey, we were pleased with the effort from our group. We still need a few guys to step up their game, but overall we put in a strong effort. I give credit to the game Surrey played, they played with pace and had some big saves from Laforest,” said Rivermen Associate Head Coach and Assistant General Manager Kurt Astle.
Offense has never been a big issue for the Rivermen this season. In fact, their scoring depth is an area that makes them a dangerous squad. The Riv currently boast six players that have scored at least 10 goals this season. Only Cowichan Valley and Salmon Arm have more 10+ goal scorers with seven. However, team defense has been inconsistent at times this year. When they finished November with five wins in six games, they were outstanding in the defensive end only allowing 13 goals.
“I think our team defense issue starts with our inconsistent penalty kill. Being able to defend as a group is something we have always taken pride in. There have been numerous times we have missed on blocking shots, and winning battles in the corners and in our paint. We will look to defend less this weekend by advancing pucks with more pace, and winning our wall battles. As a team, our overall defense needs to take a step forward and it will be a good test this weekend,” continued Astle.
December 18: Powell River Kings @ Langley Rivermen- 7:15pm Langley Events Centre
Friday night will be the last of two meetings on the season between the Rivermen and Kings. The first one on November 13 was a game to forget for the ‘Men as they took a 9-3 loss at Hap Parker Arena. However, it was not for a lack of trying as Langley put 50 shots towards Jeff Smith and only beat him three times. The Kings are not a team that will beat you by putting a lot of pucks in the net as strong defensive play and goaltending seems to be their identity. They have allowed the least amount of goals in the Island Division with just 84 and are first place in the goal differential category at +27. Their six game losing streak they went through from October 16-November 1st is a distant memory as they enter this week winners of seven of their last 10 games. They rank third in the Island Division with an 18-12-0-1 record for 37 points, the same amount as the Rivermen.
December 19: Coquitlam Express @ Langley Rivermen- 6:00pm Langley Events Centre
There is only one word to describe the three games in the season series thus far: Wacky. The Riv have a 2-1 win advantage, but the story has been the amount of goals that have been scored in the nine periods. In total, the two inter-division rivals have combined for 29 goals. The amount of scoring that has been done in a single period has been a head scratcher to say the least, especially in the opening period. In the first meeting on October 21, the teams combined for six first period goals. Just over a week later, they scored five in the first 20 minutes, and in the last matchup on November 11, seven goals were put away in a third period that saw the Express win 7-5.
The Express are 14-15-1-4 for 33 points in 34 games this season and enter this weekend on a two game winning streak. Like the Rivermen, they are without key people who are representing Team Canada West at the World Junior “A” Challenge in Head Coach/GM Barry Wolff, who is an assistant coach, and 17 year old forward Blake Hayward.
December 20: Prince George Spruce Kings @ Langley Rivermen- 3:00pm @ Langley Events Centre
Sunday afternoon may be a survival of the fittest. Both teams will be playing their third game in three days. PG will be going through a rigorous travel schedule as they play two games on the Island on Friday & Saturday night, and will have to make their way to the Mainland early Sunday morning.
The Rivermen have won both games in the season series thus far, and have outscored the Spruce Kings 9-1. Through 34 games, PG is 8-24-0-2 for 18 points, which puts them fifth in the Mainland Division. They will be looking put some solid road games together this weekend, as they have struggled with a 4-13-0-2 record away from the Prince George Coliseum. This next month will be a big test for the Spruce Kings, as their next eight games are all away from home. They do not play another game at the Coliseum until January 14.
3 DAYS OF RIVMAS:
Tonight is the first day of RIVMAS. Entry to the game is FREE and everybody in attendance will receive a $5 merchandise voucher.