UPDATED: Rough road trip for Rivermen

Langley junior A hockey club drops three straight for first time this season

It was a rough road trip for the Langley Rivermen.

The junior A hockey club went 0-for-3 with losses in Powell River, Cowichan Valley and Nanaimo in BCHL action over the weekend.

The results saw Langley’s record fall to 15-8-9-1 and while their 40 points still lead the Mainland Division, the Rivermen saw their lead decrease to three points.

This also marked the first time this season Langley has lost consecutive games in regulation.

Despite the 0-fer road trip, head coach Bobby Henderson was happy for the most part with his team’s effort.

“Overall, I was happy with the compete level — they played hard, they cared,” he said.

In both the first and third games of the road trip, the result could have gone either way. And missing four key players in the middle contest — combined with penalty problems — played a factor in Saturday’s loss.

The team was without their two leading scorers, Brendan Budy and Angus Crookshank, all weekend as the pair are at selection camp with Team Canada West for the upcoming world junior A Challenge.

They then lost Nicholas Ponak to suspension — two games for checking from behind — while Derek Hamelin got injured, depleting the team even further.

“Those are four of our top players and (combined with) a long travel day and us not playing well and getting into penalty trouble, and that is pretty much the story there,” Henderson said.

Those factors combined to result in a 5-1 loss to the Cowichan Valley Capitals, who won for just the third time in 30 games.

The Capitals capitalized on the power play with four man-advantage goals to break open a 1-1 game.

“When you are playing short guys and missing some key players, you can’t put yourself in penalty trouble,” Henderson said. “I think it is lessons learned for our group.”

Tanner Versluis had the lone Langley goal while Troy MacTavish scored a pair and David Laroche, Azzaro Tinling and Andrew McCann had a goal apiece.

In Powell River the night before, Langley out-shot the Kings 45-33 but only managed a pair of goals with Brandon Costa and Connor Marshall tallying for the visitors.

Ben Berard, Callum Volpe and Carter Turnbull responded for the hosts.

Braedon Fleming made 33 saves in the loss.

The next night saw the team in Cowichan Valley where the Capitals broke open a 1-1 game with a four-goal second period, chasing Chad Cromar from the net.

The Rivermen penalty kill allowed four goals on six chances.

Tanner Versluis had the lone Langley goal while Troy MacTavish scored a pair and David Laroche, Azzaro Tinling and Andrew McCann had a goal apiece.

The weekend wrapped up with a stop in Nanaimo and Langley took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission thanks to a John Wojciechowski goal with 10 seconds to play.

After the Clippers tied the score, Sean Gulka restored the advantage for the Rivermen but a goal in the final minute made it 2-2. David Melaragni had both Nanaimo goals.

And with seven minutes to play in regulation, Brady Lynn snapped the tie and three minutes later, Jake Harris added an insurance marker before Brad Belisle scored into the empty-net for the 5-2 victory.

Fleming made 29 saves in the loss.

The team took both Monday and Tuesday off to get fresh and ready for the weekend which features a pair of divisional games.

Langley will look to get back on track as they host the Surrey Eagles on Dec. 8 and the Coquitlam Express on Dec. 9. Both games are at the George Preston Recreation Centre.


sports@langleytimes.com

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