One night after the Langley Chiefs opened their BCHL season with a 3-1 loss to their rival Surrey Eagles, the Chiefs bounced back with a convincing 7-3 victory against those same Eagles in what was Langley’s home opener at the George Preston Recreation Centre on Saturday.
Sporting their new look uniforms in front of a boisterous crowd that was near capacity, Langley took charge early with a goal from Konrad Sander at 6:01 of the first period. Sander, who played twelve games last season with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice, ended up with 2 goals on the night and was the game’s second star.
“It (the first goal) was definitely important because it got our team going,” said the Squamish, BC native after the win.
The Chiefs gave up the first goal to the Eagles the night before and in addition to the first goal, Sander also noted that Langley looked for a good start physically.
“We were definitely more aggressive on our forecheck,” stated Sander when talking about the differences between the first two games. “Last night we weren’t very physical, which was our main issue.”
Leading the way in the physical part of the game was Chiefs’ third year player Mac Roy who was instrumental in helping Langley take the lead after Surrey tied the game at 1-1 early in the first.
Roy – with a jolt of energy that seemed to last the entire game – rushed down the ice with the puck, carried it around the net and drew a penalty with his speed. On the ensuing power play, Chiefs’ captain Jesse Tresierra potted his first of the season and Langley never looked back.
“We came out flying and we kept to it all game,” said Roy, speaking of his energy throughout the night, “I try to put my best effort out there so that they (his teammates) follow in stride.”
Late in the third period with the game out of reach for the Eagles, Roy dropped the gloves and jousted with Eagles tough guy Nolan Toigo who out-weighs and out-measures the Chiefs’ energy bug who weighs in at a generous 5 foot 11 inches and 185 pounds.
“I like scoring goals but I like scrapping and getting hits in too,” responded Roy when asked about his late game fisticuffs,“I like to be an all-around player.”
The Chiefs will be looking to veteran players like Roy to step up and be well rounded players this season as two of their leaders, last season’s leading scorer Taylor Stefishen and team MVP goaltender Kurt Jory have moved on from the BCHL.
Stefishen’s offense will be likely replaced by Ottawa Senators’ draft choice Derek Grant who scored 24 goals and 39 assists for the Chiefs last season and players such as Milos Gordic and Trevor Elias who were not far behind Grant.
In goal, seventeen year-old netminder Andrew Walsh enters his first season as a starter in the BCHL after playing in the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League last season. And while he has big shoes to fill, his teammates have full confidence in him.
“Even last night he played great and he just followed that up with an even better performance today” said Roy of his goaltender. Roy was also impressed with Walsh’s ability to take the next step.
“For him to step into Junior A and start games and win them for us is huge”.
Sander, who provided offense in front of Walsh, echoed many of the same sentiments of his goaltender who notched his first BCHL win in the victory over the Eagles.
“He was great, he stood on his head for us at times and we definitely need that on the back end to win games.”
Langley looks to strike up a home winning streak as they take on the Burnaby Express and the Victoria Grizzlies on Friday the 12th and Saturday the 13th respectively, both at the George Preston Recreation Centre. The Surrey Eagles look to get back on the winning track with a three game homestand beginning next weekend against Powell River and Burnaby.