Braedon Fleming stopped 69 of the 73 shots he faced over the weekend as the Rivermen picked up three of four points before the holiday break. Gary Ahuja Langley Times file photo

Victory, tie for Rivermen heading into holiday break

Langley junior A hockey club sits in top spot in BCHL’s Mainland Division

The Langley Rivermen head into the holiday break on a high, picking up three of four points over the weekend to maintain their slim division lead.

The Rivermen knocked off the Chilliwack Chiefs 5-1 on Friday night before settling for a 3-3 tie on Saturday against the Surrey Eagles. Both games were at the George Preston Recreation Centre.

And the results give the Rivermen a 17-9-9-2 record, one point better than the Prince George Spruce Kings for top spot in the BCHL’s Mainland Division.

“The guys played hard both nights. We carried the play start to finish (the first night) and Saturday night, we had a great start … (but) we ran out of gas a bit,” said Rivermen head coach and general manager Bobby Henderson.

“All in all, I was pretty proud of the effort. The guys wanted to finish on a high note before Christmas break.”

Nicholas Ponak paced the offence in the victory with a pair of goals while Tanner Versluis (one goal, two assists) and Ethan Leyh (three assists) both had three-point games.

John Wojciechowski and Trevor St. Jean had the other goals.

Chilliwack’s Will Calverley power-play goal with 2:30 remaining ruined Braedon Fleming’s shutout bid as the Langley netminder finished with 29 saves.

Saturday’s contest was going great for the first 50 minutes as Brady Berger scored in the second and Connor Marshall doubled the lead early in the third. Surrey’s Aaron White and Cory Babichuk struck for goals 3:47 apart midway through the frame and John Wesley made it 3-2 for the visitors with just 68 seconds remaining.

But 15 seconds later, Wojciechowski tied things up for the Rivermen.

Surrey did have a power-play for the final two minutes of three-on-three overtime but Fleming stopped all seven Surrey overtime shots.

“Although we would have liked the extra point, it was a valiant effort considering we were missing four regulars for both games,” Henderson said. “It was good to see offensive production out of all the lines.”

That included missing both leading scorers Brendan Budy and Angus Crookshank, who were in Nova Scotia, helping Canada West win gold at the 2017 World Junior A Challenge.

SEE: Golden time in Nova Scotia for Langley duo

The Rivermen are now off until Dec. 29 when they head to Prince George for a pair of huge games against the Spruce Kings. Prince George sits one point back off Langley for top spot.

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