Langley Rivermen beat Chilliwack Chiefs twice to vault into top spot

For the Langley Rivermen, two out of three, as in two wins in three games against the Chilliwack Chiefs over the weekend, ain’t bad.

In fact, it’s pretty awesome.

The Rivermen have overtaken the Chiefs as the top team in the B.C. Hockey League’s Mainland Division, by beating Chiliwack two out of three times in the teams’ three-games-in-three-days weekend series.

It took 42 regular season games, but the ’Men (22-15-1-4) can finally say they’re on top their division after a convincing 5-1 win over the Chiefs Sunday afternoon at the Langley Events Centre (LEC).

A career game for Matthew Graham, who scored twice and added two assists, and a two-goal effort from Zac Masson led the way for the Rivermen.

“The pucks were bouncing our way today,” Graham said, following the win. “It was a fun game to be a part of and it was nice to see our line rewarded for our efforts.”

“I’m happy with the way we played,” Rivermen head coach and general manager Bobby Henderson said. “We started strong, played a full 60 minutes, and beat a good Chilliwack team.”

Langley led 3-0 after the first period thanks to two goals by Graham and one by Marcus Vela.

The teams traded goals in the second and Masson scored the lone goal of the third period in another heated game between these two rivals.

Tempers started to flare Saturday night including some comments from the stands at Chilliwack’s Prospera Centre.

Sunday saw more of the same on-ice physicality and after the whistle scrums, which escalated in the third period.

“In a game like that, it’s important not to lose your composure,” Masson said. “I thought we kept our cool and that’s one of the reasons we got the win.”

“This was a great test for us,” Henderson said. “We got to see what the boys were made out of and they took advantage of it.”

Langley goaltender Bo Didur had another solid performance, stopping 28 shots to pick up his 14th win of the season.

With the win, Langley leads the Mainland with 49 points, one ahead of the Chiefs, but Chilliwack (23-14-1-1) has two games in hand.

The two teams will meet again next Wednesday for the seventh time this season.

“It was like a mini-playoff series,” said Masson. “We found a good way to battle through and show that when the time comes, we’ll be able to go through those tough stretches.”

Trading wins

On Friday night it was the Chiefs who came into the LEC and skated to a 3-2 victory.

The Rivermen battled back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-1 but despite a goal late in the third from forward Dante Hahn, still came up on the short end.

Didur stopped 23 shots in a losing cause.

Saturday was a different story as the Rivermen won by a 4-1 count in Chilliwack.

Despite the same slow start for the Rivermen, they scored four unanswered goals and Darren Martin turned aside 36 of 37 shots faced to steal a crucial two points on the road.

Langley captain Kevan Kilistoff led the way with a goal and an assist while Graham put home and empty net goal to seal the deal and give the

Rivermen some momentum heading into Sunday’s game.

ICE CHIPS: The Rivermen are on the road for their next two games. On Wednesday the team travels to Merritt for a date with the Centennials and return back to the Lower Mainland as they visit the Surrey Eagles on Friday.

Opening puck drop for Friday’s game at South Surrey Arena is 7:11 p.m.

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