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Weekend preview: Riv set for big weekend; Welcome CJHL’s top team

After going one for three on their island road-trip last weekend, the Langley Rivermen will look to get back on track with a five game home stand beginning tomorrow. The Riv have been going through a tough stretch with just one win in their last six, but still remain in third place in the Mainland with a 13-11-0-0 record for 26 points. After losing in Powell River and Nanaimo last Friday & Saturday, the team was able to salvage the trip with a big 6-4 win in Alberni Valley on Sunday, but it was not without some dramatics. Before the game was even at the halfway point, the Riv saw themselves down 3-0 and things were looking bleak. However, the boys did not quit and rattled off five straight goals and managed to come away with two points.  Rivermen Captain Jordan Schneider hopes the team uses that game as a rallying point going forward.

“That was a huge win for us. We were on a five game skid going into Alberni Valley and the big thing with us is that we never quit, and we showed it in that come from behind win.”

Having a good start to the game is an area the team will look to improve in. In the last six games, the Rivermen have scored the opening goal just once, which has been making things difficult.

“It is a big thing to get on the board first and gain some early momentum. We have been playing from behind a lot lately and if we just stick to our systems and compete every shift we will be just fine going forward,” said Schneider.

Despite the team struggling to hit the win column consistency of late, forward Matthew Graham has been putting up very impressive numbers. In his last nine games, he has recorded 8 goals, 9 assists, for 17 points and has recorded three points or more in four of those nine. Since committing to Robert Morris University (RMU) on October 8th, Graham has looked like a player beaming with confidence.

“Locking down a commitment to RMU was definitely a relief for myself. Having that off my back feels nice and I have been able to relax and play my game.  A lot of credit has to go to my teammates though. I am not having success without their help out there and hopefully I can continue to play consistently,” said Graham.

 

Friday, November 20: Penticton Vees @ Langley Rivermen- 7:15pm

Things do not get any easier for the Riv with the nation’s top ranked team rolling in to the Langley Events Centre. It is always a pretty big event whenever the Penticton Vees come into town for their only visit of the season. However, this time around it is amped up even more with the way they have been playing this 2015-16 campaign. After losing their first game of the season, the Vees have won 23 in a row and are the top team in the league with a 23-1-0-0 record for 46 points. The next closest team behind them in the standings is Salmon Arm and Chilliwack, who have 33 points. They lead every major statistical category amongst teams in the BCHL, but the Riv aren’t worried about the stats and are looking forward to the challenge.

“We are going in against Penticton looking to out-work them and stick to our game plan. They are obviously a great squad and have been on fire this season, but we want to be the team that ends their streak. The guys in our room are definitely motivated,” Schneider continued.

The Vees are stockpiled with talent throughout their line-up, but the two players getting most of the attention is a pair of BC natives in Captain Tyson Jost and defensemen Dante Fabbro. Both are slated to be first round picks in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft next spring. Jost, who many experts have going in the top-10, has been on fire since game #1 and leads the BCHL in scoring with 47 points in 24 games. Fabbro, an affiliate player for the Riv in 2013-14, leads all defenseman in scoring with 28 points in 18 games.

“Fabbro and Jost are great hockey players, but Penticton is a team with more depth than most teams and if we just concentrate on them, they have other players that can burn us. We will obviously be aware when they are on the ice, but if we all do our jobs and play as a team, we should be successful,” said Graham.

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