After a stellar pre-season, the puck drops for real on Friday night for the Langley Rivermen.
The junior A hockey club went 4-1-1 in exhibition play.
“Lots of excitement and we are ready to get going,” said Rivermen head coach and general manager Bobby Henderson.
Langley closed the pre-season with a 5-4 win over the Surrey Eagles on Saturday night.
“We really like where we are at right now,” Henderson said.
“With what we have coming in with our recruits, we should be competitive this year.
“That is the standard for us.”
Final rosters are not due until tomorrow (Thursday) and the Rivermen begin the BCHL season on Friday when they host the Chilliwack Chiefs at the George Preston Recreation Centre. Puck drop is 7:15 p.m.
This is the Rivermen’s first season at the Preston Centre, which underwent some work over the summer.
The game is a battle between the Preston Centre’s old tenant versus the new. Chilliwack was formerly the Langley Chiefs before moving to the Langley Events Centre.
The Rivermen are expected to return nine players from last year’s squad which went 31-22-3-2 and finished in third place in the Mainland Division. They lost in five games the Wenatchee Wild in the Mainland Division semifinals.
“We will be well balanced; we have a couple of older guys we expect to carry the load and then some high-end young forwards that look like they will be able to produce for us,” Henderson said.
“And then some solid older guys coming in out of prep school and midget.”
Max Kaufman, who was second on the team with 52 points and fourth with 20 goals, is back and should be counted on for some scoring.
Kaufman is one of five 20-year-old forwards on the roster.
The defence features no player older than 18 but Henderson expects the blue-line to be one the team’s strengths.
Goaltending should also be solid as both Bo Didur and Nick Trenciansky return from last year.
The duo split the load in 2015/16 with Trenciansky going 16-9-0-2 with a 3.10 goals against average and a .904 save percentage in his first BCHL season.
Didur was 15-16-0-0 with a 2.99 goals against and a .907 save percentage in his second season with Langley. He also played a season before joining the Rivermen with Surrey.
The Rivermen roster also had a handful of local products.
Defenceman Alec Capstick is back for his second season and is joined by 16-year-old forwards Brendan Budy and Sean Gulka.
Another Langley product David Laurin is starting the season on injured reserve.
Langley also hosts the Coquitlam Express on Saturday night with a 6 p.m. puck drop.
These are the team’s only home games for the month of September.
Opening night celebrations
As part of the home opener celebrations on Friday, there will be food trucks, giveaways from McDonalds and the Joseph Richard Group, and a free hair cut voucher to Sports Clips Langley to everyone in attendance.
Cheeses Crust, which specializes in grilled cheese sandwiches, and the Stolovaya Food Truck, specializing in gourmet food with a Russian theme, will be in the Preston Centre parking lot.
There will also be a meet and greet autograph session with the Rivermen players in the Preston Centre lobby following the hockey game.