Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Dustin Cook

BATTLING THROUGH – Rivermen goalie Dawson Smith fights to find the puck during a home game against the South Zone Knights Dec. 3. The Rivermen took three points on their four-game road trip in B.C. to end 2017.

Rivermen take three-point weekend into break

The holiday break couldn’t come soon enough for the depleted Chance Oil Yukon Rivermen squad,

By Dustin Cook on December 20, 2017

The holiday break couldn’t come soon enough for the depleted Chance Oil Yukon Rivermen squad, but that didn’t stop them from playing competitive hockey on their last B.C. road trip of the year.

Due to injuries and illness, the Rivermen travelled with five affiliated players (AP) who were called up to be with the team coming from Yellowknife, Fort St. John and Dawson Creek.

This was the first time during the regular season for the Bantam Tier 1 squad to play four games in a three-day span also having to travel back and forth from Midway to Penticton, B.C. which head coach Martin Lawrie said was about a two hour trip.

The team started their series in Midway against East Kootenay. The Rivermen took their opening game 6-3 against East Kootenay, who was winless so far in league play.

Making their way to Penticton for the second game, Lawrie noted the team stayed overnight halfway to their destination before the morning game against the South Okanagan Zone Knights.

The Knights were the same team the Rivermen faced off against just two weeks ago at home in a feisty series with the Knights taking two games and a draw in the other.

The Rivermen fell in the first game against the Knights 5-2, which Lawrie said is a bit of a deceiving scoreline.

The teams were tied 2-2 with 11 minutes to go in the third before the Knights scored three quick ones.

After the two hour trip back to Midway for a game that evening, the Rivermen fell to East Kootenay in their second game of the day handing the team their first win of the season.

“We had outplayed them. That was a tough one to accept,” Lawrie said of the 3-2 loss with East Kootenay scoring the winner with less than a minute to go.

Heading into their final game of the weekend Sunday against the Knights, the Rivermen have struggled in their final games from tired legs and Lawrie said they were a little bit worried, but the team came out strong and skated to a 2-2 tie.

Lawrie said the game was back and forth and the Rivermen got into a fair bit of penalty trouble late in the third period and were able to hold on to the draw with successful penalty kills.

Having played five games against the Knights in two weeks, a fierce rivalry has already seemed to establish itself, Lawrie said.

“There’s definitely not a lot of like between the two teams,” he said. “I think it’s their style of play, they’re just a really aggressive team. They play hard all the time.”

Head coach Martin Lawrie credited the APs for stepping up and fitting in with the team they aren’t used to playing with as well as goalie Dawson Smith who was the only goalie to travel with the team after Mason Driscoll went down with a late injury in practice.

Taking three points from the four games into the holiday break, the Rivermen did have plans for a B.C. tournament in January, but Lawrie said they recently were told it was cancelled. Lawrie said the team will now get some much needed rest before a back-to-back home weekend series.

The Rivermen will host the North Zone Kings for three games Jan. 27-28 and then host the Central Zone Rockets the following weekend.

“It’s going to be great, the boys are really looking forward to it,” Lawrie said. “We’re feeling pretty good about both weekends, to get everyone back healthy and get a win at home.”

The Rivermen recently received a local title sponsor from Chance Oil, who Lawrie said the team reached out to for a sponsorship and they were excited to come on board.

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