Thunder continue hot start with win over Saints
There must be something about facing the Port Coquitlam Saints which sits well with Nathaniel Kozevnikov.
In the season opener, the Langley Thunder sniper struck for six goals in an 11-8 victory. He nearly matched that on Thursday night, coming up one goal shy of his second sock trick of the season.
Kozevnikov factored into half his team’s goals, scoring five times and setting up three others, as the Thunder improved to 4-0 in BC Junior A Lacrosse League action thanks to a 16-8 victory at Langley Events Centre against the visiting Saints, who fell to 1-4 with the defeat.
Port Coquitlam scored two of the first three goals of the game but Kozevnikov scored the next four – all at even strength – and the Thunder were off and running, posting their highest goal total of the young season.
Langley led 5-3 after one period and 9-6 after two before erupting for seven goals in the final 20 minutes. And while Kozevnikov was held to just one goal over the final 40 minutes, the Thunder’s offensive arsenal was on full display with Nathan McKeigan striking for four goals while Connor Watson and Matthew Abbott tallied twice apiece. Watson also had two assists for the four-point game, a total matched by Ryan Martel (one goal, three assists).
Nick Scott and Chase Moore rounded out Langley’s offensive attack with a goal apiece.
“Our offence is just clicking right now. Everyone is buying in and we are getting good looks and everything is going our way right now,” Kozevnikov offered after the game. “We have tons of weapons out there, so it is never just one guy. If one guy gets hot, you keep going to him until they shut him down and dump it to the next guy.”
With a league-leading 15 goals (he also leads in points with 22), Kozevnikov is almost half-way to last season’s career-high of 32 goals scored in 21 games.
“When he drives hard to the net or through the middle and uses his size and strength, he does really well,” explained Langley assistant coach Adam Smith. “So far this season, he has stayed true to his game and he is playing fantastic.”
Smith liked how the offence moved the ball in Thursday’s victory. The only blemish on his team’s game was their penalty kill and the fact they took a dozen penalties (three of which were coincidental minors) and allowed four power-play goals. Langley’s power play scored three times with the man advantage.
Torin Van Rheenan made 45 saves in the victory as his team was outshot 55-39.
The Saints were led by two goals apiece from Ryan Johansen, Jacob Dunbar and Daytin Vidovich.
Langley looks to make it 5-0 as they travel to Victoria on Saturday (May 11) to battle the Junior Shamrocks (1-2). The next Thunder home game is Thursday (May 16) against the Burnaby Junior Lakers (1-3).