Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Rivermen 4 Eagles 2

**Editor's note: due to a lack of internet at my new house, recaps from Games 1 + 2 will not be available on until the morning after the game. Sorry for the inconvenience.**

Two goals in an 11-second span gave Langley a lead just big enough to hold as the Rivermen took Game 1 of this Mainland division semifinal 4-2 Tuesday.

Anthony Conti scored twice for the Eagles, while Jonah Renouf had a possible goal denied in the third period on a split-second play in the Langley crease.

Surrey started well in a tentative opening frame, with Conti putting the visitors ahead on a pretty solo effort 6 minutes into the first. Surrey held the lead going into the intermission after twenty very tentative minutes from both sides.

The hosts found an equalizer early in the second on a power-play. Matt Ustaski one-timed a shot through Surrey netminder Bo Didur after a hard pass from Mitch McLain from the left-wing corner. 

The Eagles very nearly took the lead again shortly after, but Renouf struck the crossbar on a rush down the left wing. Langley countered and found the go-ahead goal just after the 14-minute mark, when Marcus Vela banged home a rebound after Gage Torrel drove the net from the left corner.

Evan Anderson looped a bouncing puck over Didur's shoulder on the ensuing rush to give Langley a 3-1 lead, but again the Eagles pressed, coming close again when Matt Dawson cranked a snapshot off Brock Crossthwaite's right post in the dying moments of the period.

The score stayed static until Renouf found his opportunity, cutting around Langley d-man Tanner Johnson and bearing in alone on Crossthwaite. It appeared Renouf may have tucked the puck just across the goal-line under Crossthwaite's right pad, but no signal was given by the referee, who was at a difficult angle to view goings-on. After conferring with his officiating crew and the goal judge, the call of "no goal" was given.

Undaunted, Surrey pressed on, cutting the Langley lead to 3-2 with less than 3 minutes left when Conti tipped home Kale Bennett's point shot from the right wing. But despite an extra attacker and a slough of offensive zone time, Surrey could not find the equalizing goal, with Langley's Jakob Reichert adding an empty-netter as the final horn sounded for a 4-2 final score.

Game 1 was gritty, intense, and featured the type of physical play that typifies a divisional rivalry. The Eagles worked hard, and with repeated efforts like Tuesday will prove to be a thorn in Langley's side as the series progresses.

My 3 Stars:
1. Matt Ustaski, Langley
2. Anthony Conti, Surrey
3. Mitch McLain, Langley

Up Next: Game 2 of the best-of-seven series goes Wednesday at the Langley Events Centre. Game time is 7:15.

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Bell network.

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