Contributed by Jesse Adamson for BCHL communications
Tonight – Chilliwack Chiefs (16-14-2-2) at Langley Rivermen (16-9-9-1)
7 p.m. at George Preston Arena in Langley
Presented by the BCIHL
Langley has won three of the five matchups between the two Mainland Division rivals this season. Langley won the first game 2-1 on Sept. 15 in Chilliwack when Sean Gulka scored midway through the third period to give the Rivermen the win. The following night in Langley, Chilliwack evened the season series when Kaden Pickering scored 10 seconds into the second overtime period and the Chiefs won 5-4.
On Oct. 21, Carter Stephenson scored early in the second period to give Langley their fourth straight goal and the Rivermen hung on for a 4-3 road win. Chilliwack again evened the season series on Nov. 10 with a convincing 6-0 win at home led by Tommy Lee and Corey Andonovski who had two goals each. The teams played into double overtime for the second time this year the following night in Langley and Gulka scored 32 seconds into the fifth period to win the game 2-1 for the Rivermen.
Langley’s Eric Butte is on a three-game point streak with one assist in each of his last three games. Langley will be without their two leading scorers Brendan Budy (33 points) and Angus Crookshank (25 points) who are both away with Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge. John Wojciechowski is the third-leading scorer on the team with 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 34 games. Rivermen goalie Braedon Fleming is eighth in the BCHL with a 2.56 goals-against average and tied for 11th in the league with a .910 save percentage. Fleming has played the most minutes in the BCHL this season.
Will Calverly is the Chiefs’ leading scorer with 32 points in 31 games. Calverly and Tommy Lee lead the team in goals with 12. Bryan Allbee’s seven goals are tied for first among BCHL defencemen and his 22 points are tied for ninth in the league among blueliners. Chilliwack goalie Daniel Chenard has a 2.86 goals-against average, .903 save percentage and two shutouts. The Chiefs will be without fourth-leading scorer Corey Andonovski as well as forward Harrison Blaisdell who are both away with Team Canada West.
What’s at Stake
Langley has one win in their last six games and are now only one point up on the Prince George Spruce Kings for the Mainland Division lead. The Rivermen will play their last game before the Christmas break tomorrow night at home against the Surrey Eagles.
Chilliwack has won three of their last four games and sit in fourth place in the Mainland Division with 36 points. They’re two points back of third-place Surrey, five back of second-place Prince George and six back of first-place Langley. This is the Chiefs’ last game before the Christmas break.
Langley Rivermen head coach Bobby Henderson on facing the Chiefs tonight:
“They’re always a tough team to play. They’ve got a pretty good balance, they’ve got some high-end forwards, a nice mix with some physicality. They’ve got a good D core, good goaltending and good coaching. They’re as good as any team in this league.
“We just need to be prepared from the drop of the puck. We can’t ease into the game, we’ve got to be ready to go in the first five minutes and set the tone with our pace and physicality.”
Henderson on his team being without their two top scorers:
“I think it’s been good for some of our guys that they got to grow their role and they’re playing more minutes. It’s nice to get those guys that opportunity before the break where they come back after Christmas and have some added confidence. We’re missing two pretty high-end guys, so it’s been a struggle for us to score goals. I think we’re getting chances, it’s just a matter of capitalizing on them.”
Henderson on playing the Chiefs for the sixth time this year:
“I think it’s a pretty good, healthy rivalry. There’s no shortage of history there. We play each other eight times and they’re two teams that get up to play each other. We’re close in proximity so there’s usually a good crossover with the fans and it makes for exciting hockey.”
Chilliwack Chiefs head coach Jason Tatarnic on facing the Rivermen tonight:
“Both teams have some key guys away at the World Junior A Challenge, so we have to look for some offense from some other guys. We’ve got to keep things real simple, keep the shift lengths short. We just have to pay attention to those small details.”
Tatarnic on his team’s injuries and absent players at the World Junior A Challenge:
“It’s been challenging for us lately, but that’s why we have a 23-man roster…It’s no different for any other team in our league. Every team goes through these periods where there are some injuries and you have to fight your way through it.”
Tatarnic on facing Langley for the sixth time this year:
“I think there’s a natural rivalry there. Especially after last year in the playoffs. It was a real good series and we have some guys back from last year so they remember it. They’re a good hockey team and they believe we are so it makes for a good game.”
ABOUT THE BCIHL
The British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League was created with the purpose of offering a venue for competitive, high-calibre hockey that’s close to home for players beyond their junior careers. The league was launched in 2006 and now includes six member teams: Eastern Washington University, Selkirk College, Simon Fraser University, Trinity Western University, the University of Victoria and Vancouver Island University. This season, 25 graduates with over 2750 games of BCHL experience are pursuing their academic and athletic goals in the BCIHL. To learn more about the BCIHL and playing opportunities for BCHL grads, visit BCIHL.ca.