Thereâ€™s no such thing as a garbage goal â€“ especially in the playoffs.
For instance: three of the Langley Rivermenâ€™s four goals during their 4-2 playoff win over the Surrey Eagles Tuesday at the Langley Events Centre werenâ€™t worthy of any top 10 highlight-reel clips.
But once the puck crosses the oppositionâ€™s goal-line, it counts as a goal, and thatâ€™s all that matters to the Rivermen who took game one of the best-of-seven, B.C. Hockey League opening round series.
â€œThe last two [goals of the second period] were hard hat mentality goals, but at this time of the year, weâ€™ll take them however we can get them,â€ Rivermen head coach Bobby Henderson said.
The series is a mismatch on paper, pitting the B.C. Hockey League regular season champions and Mainland Division kings Rivermen against an Eagles team that struggled to fourth in the Mainland.
The Rivermen (37-13-3-5) finished 29 points ahead of the Eagles (25-30-1-2) in the division standings.
But this plucky Eagles team didnâ€™t give an inch in front of a disappointingly small crowd of just 743 fans at the LEC.
They carried a 1-0 lead into the first intermission on a goal from Anthony Conti 6:04 into the game.
The Rivermen rallied by scoring the only three goals of the middle frame.
The prettiest of the three was the first one, and came with Langley enjoying a man advantage. First-line centre Matt Ustaski found a soft spot in the slot and deftly one-timed a perfect feed from behind the net from his linemate and Rivermen captain Mitch McLain.
Eagles goaltender Bo Didur had no time to react as the puck whistled past him 2:51 into the middle frame.
The next two were of the blue-collar variety and came 11 seconds apart. In rapid succession, Rivermen forwards Marcus Vela and Evan Anderson swatted loose pucks past Didur to give the home team a 3-1 lead.
After Conti scored his second of the night with 2:26 to go in regulation, the Rivermen managed to hold the Eagles offence at bay.
The Rivermenâ€™s Jakob Reichert finished off the scoring by depositing the puck into the empty Eaglesâ€™ net just before the final buzzer sounded.
Desperate for the tying goal, the Eagles had pulled Didur from the net in favour of an extra attacker, giving Reichert a yawning cage to shoot at.
Henderson said the Rivermen had their work cut out for them Tuesday.
â€œI thought they played pretty good,â€ he said, regarding the Eagles. â€œThey were right in the game all the way through. We did get nice break there, with the two quick ones [in the second period[. They played with a nothing- to-lose mentality and we played like had everything to lose. We had some nerves, which is uncharacteristic for us, but I thought we got better as the game went on.â€
Game two of the series is tonight (Wednesday, March 5) at the LEC with a 7:15 p.m. opening faceoff.