It took a trip down to British Columbia to do it, but the Yukon Rivermen are on the board with the first win in the team’s young history.
In their second game of a three-game road trip, the new Bantam Tier 1 team came from behind in the third period to beat the North Okanagan Zone Kings 5-4.
After travelling down Thursday night, head coach Martin Lawrie said the team had a chance to skate Friday morning ahead of their first game against the Kings.
The Rivermen found themselves behind 3-0 in the first period and couldn’t recover falling 5-2.
“We probably deserved a little better fate,” Lawrie said about the opening game. “We outshot them, carried most of the play, but couldn’t finish around the net.”
Heading into the second game against the Kings a day later, the Rivermen were 0-4 with all the losses in hard-fought contests that could have gone either way.
“You get that feeling are we ever going to get one, what do we got to do,” Lawrie said.
Jarred Feist, who scored two goals for the Kings in the first game, scored two early in the first period to put the Rivermen down early.
But the Rivermen got one right back 29 seconds later to cut the lead in half. Down 3-2 with just over five minutes to go in the game, the Kings doubled their lead on a delayed penalty to Yukon.
On a power play of their own, which Lawrie said was a big focus for the team heading into the weekend, the Rivermen cut the lead to one.
The Kings took a four-minute head contact penalty with 2:40 to go in the game and the Rivermen went to work cutting the lead to one with 1:51 to go. Just 32 seconds later – still on the power play – the Rivermen took their first lead of the game on a goal by defenceman Aleksandre Jirousek.
“It was pretty exciting,” Lawrie said of the team’s come-from-behind win. “I thought they deserved to win that game and I think they felt it as well. Almost a little bit of relief I think for a number of them. Finally.”
To win the game, the Rivermen scored their last three goals with less than 3:45 in the game and all on the power play, which struggled immensely in their first four games of the season.
“The kids are a lot more comfortable in the offensive zone, moved the puck better,” Lawrie said. “We still have some work to do on our zone entrance and breakout on our power play, I wasn’t a fan of that.”
Coming off the win, Yukon didn’t have time to rest as they were back on the ice the next day in Kelowna against the Central Zone Rockets.
The Rivermen were down 2-0 after only 12 minutes in the first period, and Lawrie said it was tough for the team to bounce back because they were chasing the game from that point.
The Rockets went on to win 5-0 in their only game of the weekend.
“They were waiting for us all weekend and that might have been part of it,” Lawrie said.
“They were prepared to try and wear us out and I think they did. We really didn’t have a lot left in the third.”
Before their next home series the first weekend of December, the Rivermen will head down to B.C. once more to take part in a Tier 1 tournament in Vernon Nov. 24-26.
The team will get a chance to play teams in their division outside of league play including the Kings again and the South Zone Knights out of Penticton/West Kelowna, who will be coming up to Whitehorse in December.
The Rivermen will also play against the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy bantam team in the tournament, Lawrie said.