Langley Rivermen goaltender James Barr gets the pad out to stop Vernon Vipers' Dexter Dancs from in close on Saturday night at Wesbild Centre. The Rivermen won 3-2 in overtime.

Rivermen edge closer to playoff spot

Back-to-back victories has Langley junior A hockey club on verge of post-season berth

Back-to-back victories have the Langley Rivermen inching closer to clinching a post-season berth.

The Rivermen used a strong third period where they scored three times to knock off the Chilliwack Chiefs 5-1 on Friday night at the Langley Events Centre in BCHL junior A hockey action.

And the team hit the road in Vernon the next night, knocking off the Vipers 3-2 in overtime.

In the first game, after a scoreless opening 20 minutes, Jakob Reichert broke the deadlock after Derek Sutliffe picked the pocket of a Chiefs defender and fed the wide-open Reichert in the slot. Reichert made no mistake, burying the puck between the pads of Chilliwack goalie Mitch Gillam.

Chiefs captain David Thompson tied the score at one with a power-play goal, re-directing a pass from Spencer Graboski past Langley’s James Barr.

But the Rivermen went into the locker room up 2-1 on a power-play of their own as Mark Whiteley’s shot from the blue-line made it past a maze of bodies and into the back of the net.

And the third period saw the Rivermen deliver perhaps their finest 20 minute stretch of the season.

After Evan Anderson gave his team a two-goal bulge early in the period, Sutliffe made it 4-1 with a great individual effort.

Sutliffe won a foot race to the puck in the neutral zone, took it around the Chilliwack goal and wrapped it in past the sliding Gillam.

And Mario Puskarich rounded things out by taking a perfect cross-ice pass form Logan Smith and rifling a shot into the top corner for his 38th goal of the season.

It was his fifth straight game with a goal and gave him a league-leading 38 scores.

Puskarich’s goal-scoring streak was snapped at five games on Saturday in Vernon, but he did pick up a pair of assists to pad his lead atop the BCHL scoring race.

He leads the league with 80 points, 10 ahead of second place.

The Vipers had jumped ahead 2-0 in the first period as both Brett Corkey and Craig Martin beat Barr.

Langley seemed to find their legs in the second period and Tanner Johnson got the visitors on the board as the defenceman jumped in from the point and fired a loose puck in the slot home for his first career BCHL goal.

The goal sparked the Rivermen for the rest of the period and tied things up on the power play when Matt Ustaski pounced on a rebound and buried his shot.

Neither team could score in the third, although the Vipers had a great chance in the late going when it looked like Logan Mick had a wide-open net but Barr dove to make the save.

And then less than two minutes into overtime, Johnson jumped into the play and took a pass from James Robinson, burying the winner with his second of the night.

The Rivermen now have 50 points with five games to play, which is five ahead of fifth-place Coquitlam, who only have four remaining games. Langley does have an outside shot of third place but they trail the Prince George Spruce Kings by six points, although the Rivermen also have a game in hand.

The Rivermen host the Chiefs on Friday at the LEC with puck drop at 7:15 p.m.

They then hit the road for a pair of games in Prince George on March 2 and 3.

Langley Times

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