Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Rivermen 3 Eagles 0

Austin Azurdia scored twice, including the game-winner 8:09 into the second period, and Brock Crossthwaite made 36 saves as the Langley Rivermen shut out the Eagles 3-0 in Game 5 of their Mainland Division semi-final.

With the win, Langley now enjoys a 3-2 series lead with the Eagles now facing elimination in Tuesday's Game 6.

Monday's game was calculated, even, and conservative as both sides were reluctant to make mistakes in their own zone. A tense first period ended scoreless with both Crossthwaite and Bo Didur making difficult stops, in particular the Surrey netminder off hard drives to the goalmouth.

Langley found their breakthrough just past the 8-minute mark of the second. Forward James Robinson, while driving behind the net, knocked the stick out of Didur's hands, and on the ensuing wrap-around found Azurdia alone just outside the crease for his first goal of the playoffs.

Azurdia added a second 1:37 later when, on a rush down the left-wing side, his shot toward Didur's goal caromed in off an Eagles skater.

Surrey fired anything and everything at Crossthwaite's net the other way, including on a five-minute power-play late in period two after Langley captain Mitch McLain was ejected for a goaltender interference penalty. The Rivermen netminder stood tall throughout Monday's game, though, including a 15-save performance in the third period.

Surrey continued to press as time wound down, coming closest when Danton Heinen struck the left post with a wrist-shot with about six minutes to play. Head coach Peter Schaefer then pulled Didur with more than three minutes remaining, but the move proved costly when Langley defenseman Tanner Johnson found the empty net with 2:12 left.

Didur stopped 36 Rivermen shots and was terrific in goal for Surrey, making a number of quick-reacting pad saves off chances from all areas of the Eagles' defensive zone.

Surrey went 0/4 on the power-play, while Langley failed to capitalize on three man-advantage opportunities.

My Three Stars:
1. Brock Crossthwaite, Langley
2. Kale Bennett, Surrey
3. Austin Azurdia, Langley

Up Next: The Eagles face a must-win Game Six at home Tuesday. Game time is 7:00 at South Surrey Arena.

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