Sports

Rivermen crack Canada's top 20

Surrey Eagles forward Nathan Renouf (left) chases down Langley Rivermen defenceman Zach Urban during Sunday
Surrey Eagles forward Nathan Renouf (left) chases down Langley Rivermen defenceman Zach Urban during Sunday's game at South Surrey Arena.
— image credit: Garrett James

The Langley Rivermen, who have yet to lose in regulation time in 2014, have climbed into the Canadian Junior Hockey League rankings.

The Rivermen are listed at 18th in Canada among the junior A hockey clubs, according to the most recent polls released on Monday.

Langley played a pair of overtime games over the weekend, edging the Trail Smoke Eaters 3-2 on Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre, before dropping a 5-4 decision to the Surrey Eagles at South Surrey Arena the following afternoon.

“We got three out of four points, but we had to work to do it,” said Rivermen coach and general manager Bobby Henderson.

“All in all, it was a decent weekend. It wasn’t great.”

Langley has now been involved in a league-leading 14 overtime games, going 8-5-1 when the game goes beyond 60 minutes.

In the first game, Austin Azurdia scored twice, including the overtime winner, while Will Cook had opened the scoring.

Trail’s Joel Webb and Dylan Bowen responded for the visitors, with both goals coming on the power play.

Lyndon Starwood made 17 saves for the win as Langley dominated on the shot clock with a 46-19 advantage.

Against the Eagles, Langley found itself down 4-2 with 11 minutes to play, but Tyson Witala and James Robinson tallied 4:16 apart to force overtime. But in the extra period, it was Surrey’s Nathan Renouf tipping home the winner past Brock Crossthwaite, who finished with 19 saves.

Charlie Pelnik and Jakob Reichert had the other Rivermen goals.

The Eagles were led by a pair of goals from captain Danton Heinen while Chase McMurphy and Matthew Dawson had a goal apiece.

Heinen, a Langley Minor Hockey Association product who is in his first season of junior A, leads the team with 21 goals and 46 points.

“I thought we did a pretty good job of defending, but our execution wasn’t where it should be,” Henderson said.

In particular, he said the power play failed on a couple of chances in the Saturday night game, but did come through with a big goal in Sunday’s contest.

Moving forward, Henderson said he likes the way his team is playing with six victories and overtime loss in their past seven games.

“Our game plan was strong, it is just a matter of executing,” he said.

The Rivermen lead the BCHL’s Mainland Division with a record of 28-12-1-5 and their 62 points are eight points clear of second-place Prince George. Langley has a dozen games to play while Prince George has 14 and the two teams meet head-to-head in five of the final seven games of the regular season.

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The Rivermen host the Chilliwack Chiefs on Jan. 24 at the Langley Events Centre before hitting Vancouver Island for a pair of games to complete the weekend. The team faces the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Saturday night and then the Victoria Grizzlies on Sunday afternoon.

The Grizzlies are ranked eighth in the most recent CJHL top 20 polls.

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