Langley Rivermen’s Angus Crookshank and Surrey Eagles’ Brendan Winslow during game one of the teams’ best-of-seven playoff series at the George Preston Recreation Centre. The Eagles won in six games. Garrett James photo

Slow start in series proves costly

Langley had lost just seven times in regulation on home ice during regular season, but drops two of three home playoff games

A poor start to the series doomed the Langley Rivermen.

The Rivermen saw their season end in overtime of game six as Matthew Campese delivered the dagger, scoring 34 seconds into sudden-death overtime for the 5-4 win to send the Surrey Eagles to a series victory in the opening round of the BCHL playoffs.

Langley dropped both games one and two on home ice at the George Preston Recreation Centre — a place they had only lost seven regulation games out of 29, a .707 winning percentage, tied for fifth-best in the league.

“If we had just had a better start to the series, (especially) in game one, we really hurt our cause,” said Langley coach and general manager Bobby Henderson.

“We weren’t up to our standards (in game one) and it affected us in the series. Other than that, I thought we played real good hockey.”

Surrey won game one 3-2 to steal home-ice advantage and then seized control of the series with a 5-3 game two win.

Langley took game three by a 2-1 score but the Eagles went up 3-1 with a 4-2 win in game four.

Limited to three goals or less, the Rivermen offence got on track in game five as they exploded for eight goals in an 8-5 win before the overtime defeat.

Total goals in the series were 23-21 in favour of Surrey, but one of those two extra was into an empty net.

And Surrey’s Desi Burgart was the primary thorn in the Rivermen’s side as he scored eight of his team’s goals, including all four in game four and then three more in game six.

Aside from the earlier than wanted exit, Henderson was happy with his team’s 2017/18 campaign, one in which two of his players, Brendan Budy and Angus Crookshank helped Canada West win gold at the world junior A hockey challenge and also establish themselves as potential NHL draft picks this June.

The Rivermen were also contending for top spot in the BCHL’s Mainland Division up until January when the team struggled with injuries.

“I have no complaints, every player played hard for us (and) we improved this season,” Henderson said.

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