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Langley Rivermen captain’s corner

 

Since joining the BCHL back in 2011, the Langley Rivermen have had nine captains with three of them being local Langley products. To become a captain of a hockey team, the player must show maturity, leadership, and a will to win, and all of these players have shown that over the years. Not only were these good players on the ice, but exceptional characters off of the ice, leaving their mark on the community of Langley.

Let’s take a look at all nine Rivermen players who have had the honour of wearing the “C” on their jersey.

2011-12 – Ryan Bakken

Bakken played three full BCHL seasons in his hometown of Langley. In his first two seasons, he played for the Langley Chiefs, scoring three goals and adding 26 assists in 106 games. The 2011-12 season saw Bakken become the captain of the Rivermen during their inaugural season and he finished with a goal and 14 assists in 55 games. He also won the Rivermen top defenseman award that season.

Bakken then moved on to play college hockey at Lindenwood University from 2012-14 and picked up seven assists in 52 games. The 2014-15 season saw Bakken move back home to Langley and he played two seasons with Trinity Western University in the BCIHL. In 46 games with TWU, Bakken notched eight goals and 26 assists.

2012-13 – Thomas Nitsche

Nitsche joined the Rivermen in 2011-12, playing in 55 games while scoring four goals and adding 15 assists. He was named captain of the Rivermen in 2012-13 season where he scored a goal and added six assists in 27 games before being traded to the Penticton Vees halfway through the season. Nitsche finished the season with three assists in 21 games with the Vees, before heading on a playoff run that saw him add four assists in 15 games.

Once his BCHL career came to an end, Nitsche played college hockey at Western Michigan University for four seasons. His first two seasons were in the NCAA and he scored a single goal and four assists in 38 games. Then his final two college seasons were in the ACHA, again with Western Michigan. In 32 ACHA games, Nitsche contributed a goal and five assists. The 1992-born defenseman’s final season came in 2016-17.

2013-14 – Mitch McLain

McLain played his rookie season with Rivermen in 2012-13 and potted 14 goals and 18 assists in 54 games. The 1993-born forward was named captain the following season, scoring 24 goals and adding 36 assists in 57 games. He also had an excellent playoff run in 2014, picking up four goals and seven assists in 11 games.

Following his two seasons in the BCHL, McLain played four seasons with Bowling Green University and was also named team captain in his senior year. In 161 NCAA games, McLain finished with 53 goals and 48 assists.

After his senior season with Bowling Green ended, McLain signed a contract with the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League and was called up to finish the season. He added a single assist in 10 AHL games. The 2018-19 season saw McLain play a full season in the American League, scoring 10 goals and 10 assists in 58 games. He posted one assist in eight playoff games.

The product of Baxter, Minnesota split last season between the Wild in the AHL and the Allen Americans of the ECHL. He scored two goals and two assists in 28 games with the Wild and picked up four goals and two assists in eight games with the Americans.

Earlier this month, it was announced that Iowa has re-signed Mclain to a one-year AHL deal.

2014-15 – Kevan Kilistoff

Kilistoff started his BCHL career with the Surrey Eagles in 2012-13. He had seven goals and 10 assists in 52 games as a rookie on his way to an appearance in the RBC Cup where he scored once and added two assists in five games.

Kilistoff was traded to his hometown of Langley after the RBC Cup run and ended up playing two seasons with the Rivermen between 2013-15. He scored 35 goals and added 60 assists in 112 games and was also named team captain in 2014-15.

Following his BCHL career, Kilistoff played four seasons of NCAA hockey at Dartmouth College where he was also named team captain for his junior and senior seasons. He suited up in 119 NCAA games and scored 36 points before retiring from hockey after his college career ended in 2018-19.

2015-16 – Jordan Schneider

Schneider was traded to the Rivermen in 2014 after playing three seasons with the St. Michaels Buzzers in the Ontario Junior Hockey League. Schneider, who is originally from Toronto, transitioned seamlessly to the BCHL, putting up eight goals and 39 assists in 109 games over two seasons.

After his two seasons in the BCHL ended, the 6’4″ defenseman embarked on his NCAA career with Clarkson University. Over four seasons for Clarkson, Schneider scored three goals and17 assists in 103 games. He was also named assistant captain during his senior season in 2019-20.

2016-17 – Cooper Leitch

Leitch started his BCHL career with the Prince George Spruce Kings in 2014-15 before being traded midway through the season to the Trail Smoke Eaters where he finished the season. He spent another season in Trail before being traded to the Rivermen in 2016 was named captain. In total, the London, Ontario product suited up in 167 BCHL games with a total of 36 goals and 42 assists.

Following his lone season in Langley, Leitch started his college career in Canada for Lakehead University. In his first three seasons, he chipped in with 12 goals and eight assists in 79 U SPORTS games.

2017-18 – Brendan Budy

In total, Budy played three seasons with the Rivermen, but they weren’t consecutive. His rookie season came back in 2016, the following season he was named team captain, and committed to the University of Denver.

Budy headed to Denver for the 2018-19 season but only played eight games before leaving school and joining the Tri-City Storm of the US Hockey League where he scored 11 goals and added 20 assists in 31 games. Budy ended up committing to the University of North Dakota during his season in the USHL.

After his season with the Storm, Budy decided to head back to his hometown of Langley and play another season with the Rivermen. In total, he played in 155 BCHL games spanning three years, scoring 56 goals and adding 94 assists. He restarts his college career this coming season with the Fighting Hawks.

2018-19 – Alec Capstick

Capstick played four seasons in a Rivermen jersey, finishing it off as team captain during his final year in 2018-19. In 153 BCHL games, the Langley local posted seven goals and 44 assists.

The numbers don’t jump out at you but they should, because back in 2016-17, Capstick thought his hockey career was over after being diagnosed with a mysterious illness called the EBV virus. He missed the entire season and some doctors even told him he would never play hockey again. That didn’t sit well with Capstick and he started his comeback to the BCHL and wrapped his career as captain of the RIvermen.

His hard work to get back on the ice paid off as Capstick earned a scholarship to Miami University (Ohio) and played his freshmen season in 2019-20, suiting up in 26 games and adding a goal and two assists.

2019-20 – Tanner Versluis

Versluis just capped off his 20-year-old season as the captain of the Rivermen. In total, he spent three seasons with Langley. He suited up in 150 games and scored 66 points on 31 goals and 35 assists.

Before joining the Riv in 2017-18, the product of Vancouver played a season of junior B in the Pacific Junior Hockey League for the North Van Wolf Pack, scoring 18 goals and adding 21 assists in 43 games.

Versluis, who aged out of the BCHL after the 2019-20 season, announced earlier this summer that he committed to Marian University to play NCAA Div III hockey for the upcoming season.