The Langley Rivermen have had a rather quiet summer so far, however, that doesn’t mean they haven’t done the work to bolster the roster for next season. Once the season was canceled due to COVID-19, the Rivermen announced a handful of new player commitments which was expected since 10 players from last season either aged out or moved on to play college hockey at their respective schools.
It is uncertain as to what the roster will look like once the puck drops this season, but let’s take a look at where the roster is now.
Between the pipes
— Brandon Milberg (@Bmilberg_1) March 28, 2020
The Rivermen will come into the 2020-21 season without either of their goaltenders from 2019-20 as both 2000-born Jonathan Mor and 1999-born Braedon Fleming have moved on to college hockey. However, in the spring they announced the signing of 2001-born goalie Brandon Milberg for this upcoming season. He is a 6’1″, 180-pound netminder from Thornhill, Ontario, and committed to Sacred Heart University for 2021-22.
Rivermen head coach Bobby Henderson was excited about the signing when I spoke with him back in March. “I’d expect him to come in and take the reins right away. Obviously there is a bit of a transition coming to a new league. There will be an adjustment period, but with his experience in prep and the fact that he is an older guy coming in, it should be smooth for him.”
The back end
The D-core of the Rivermen will take a bit of a hit as Ryan Helliwell (University of Notre Dame), Brian Scoville (University of Alabama-Huntsville) and Jake Livingstone (Minnesota State University) have all moved on to college.
But, that’s not the end of the world as the Riv will have 2000-born Colten Kovich and Will Dow-Kenny, 2002-born Tanner Komzak, and 2001-born Stephen Sielsky returning on the back end.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a guy like Komzak or Sielsky have big years as they were both consistent during the back half of last season. Kovich is a workhorse who laid it all on the line every game, he even blocked a shot off his face during the playoffs, and then only missed a couple of shifts to get a cage on his helmet and was back on the ice. Dow-Kenny was also a solid asset on the blueline as his vision and defensive mindset really stood out.
— McKenzie Guardiero (@MacGuardiero) April 19, 2020
The Riv will have some reinforcements coming in on the back end as they have signed 2002-born Joseph Messina and 2001-born Eamon Doheny.
Messina is 5’10”, 170-pounds and from Woodbridge, Ontario, he finished last season with two goals and 15 assists playing for the Selects Hockey Academy U18 team. Doheny is 6’1″, 195-pounds, and hails from Lunenburg, Massachusetts. Last season he was the captain of Deerfield Academy, finishing with five goals and 15 assists in 25 games.
The front end
The forward group will look similar to last season however the Rivermen did lose a few key players as captain Tanner Versluis (Marian University), Brendan Budy (University of North Dakota), Joey Musa (Dartmouth University), and Jonathan Stein (Albertus Magnus College) have all moved on to start their college hockey careers.
Losing the leadership of Versluis and the scoring ability of Budy will be tough on the Rivermen this season but they are still in good hands with the players they have coming back and the new recruits coming in.
The forward group could have a huge veteran presence with possibly five 20-year olds in the forward group. Hunter McCoy, Matthew Hubbarde, Matteo Pecchia, Kaeden Patrick, and Sean Bunting are all expected to be at training camp in September.
Other forwards eligible to return next season include 2001-born Tristan Fraser and Riley Wallack, 2002-born Kalen Szeto and Daniel O’Neill, and 2003-born Chase Sandhu.
Fraser’s play really impressed me last season, he finished with 34 points in 56 games and I wouldn’t be surprised if he increases on that total as he should see more ice time, especially on the powerplay. Szeto was another player that caught my eye right away, his speed and hockey IQ is off the charts. It will be a huge boost to have him return to the lineup as he was originally slated to start his NCAA career his season with Yale University.
Another Commitment for #RivNation. Seamus Campbell played for the St. Louis Jr Blues last season and was included in the NHL Central Scouting 2020 Mid-term Draft Ranking. Welcome to the Riv, Seamus! BCHL Network article coming soon! pic.twitter.com/xU9gtvOPTb
— Langley Rivermen (@LangleyRivermen) April 4, 2020
Now let’s take a look at the new recruits coming in to fight for a roster spot. So far, the Rivermen have eight new forwards committed to the team for 2020-21, which will make training camp ultra-competitive as there could be nine returning veterans coming back.
The incoming rookies are 2002-born Seamus Campbell, Keaton Oakley, and Samuel Marburg, 2001-born Mark D’Agostino, Stephen Wiley, and Morgan Winters, 2003-born Ashton Taylor, and 2004-born Cameron Johnson.
Campbell (Quinnipiac University), D’Agostino (University of Connecticut), and Winters (University of New Hampshire) all have NCAA commitments for the 2021-22 season.
How the forward group will look once the season starts is hard to predict, but with the players who are returning and the new players coming in the Rivermen are trending in the right direction.
What to expect
If you look back through the history of any team that Bobby Henderson has coached you will see a trend of competitive teams each year, they may not be the flashiest, high-scoring team but they will always come in and compete. This season will be no different. Fans can expect a hard-working, blue-collar hockey team that won’t be outworked.
None of these players mentioned above are guaranteed to be on the opening night roster though. Some tough decisions will need to be made when training camp rolls around as the Rivermen currently have seven 20-year olds eligible to return but can only carry six on the roster. With that said, a competitive training camp is on the horizon in September.