Top four events in January's local sporting scene

Once the excitement of the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in Vancouver has faded, and the Vancouver Canucks go into their inevitable mid-season swoon, there will still be plenty of local sporting events worthy of your attention in January:

• Jan. 7 The Coquitlam Express kick off a six-game homestand with a rare Monday night game against the West Kelowna Warriors, at 7 p.m.

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The Warriors come to the Poirier Sports and Leisure Complex with the BC Hockey League’s second leading goal scorer, Mike Hardman. The second-year junior who came to West Kelowna from the Des Moines Buccaneers of the US Hockey League, has 27 goals in 39 games for the Warriors. That’s one less than leading sniper, Ryan Brushett of the Powell River Kings.

Along with his 22 assists, Hardman’s fourth in league scoring.

During their homestand, the Express will also play key divisional games against the Chilliwack Chiefs on Jan. 11 and the Langley Rivermen on Jan 18. They’ll also play a special midweek afternoon game on Jan. 16, at 12 p.m., against the Surrey Eagles.

• Jan. 10 to 12 The Jonathan Taylor Legal Beagle Invitational boys basketball tournament features eight of the top ten senior teams in the province, including No. 1 Lord Tweedsmuir and the fourth-ranked host team. The tournament kick off at Terry Fox secondary school at 3:15 on Jan. 10 with a game between the New Westminster Hyacks and Vancouver College. The Ravens will play at 6:45 p.m. against 10th-ranked W.J. Mouat. 

The tournament final will be played Sat., Jan. 12, at 7:30 p.m.

• Jan. 14 to 18 Canadian Olympic figure skater Larkyn Austman has been battling back from illness, injury and changes to her short and long programs after representing Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, last February. As a result she skipped the Grand Prix circuit to hone her form at several smaller regional competitions like the BC/Yukon sectional championships that were held in Coquitlam in November.

The fruits of Austman's hard work will be on display at the 2019 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships being held in Saint John, N.B.

Austman enters the competition seeded second behind defending national champion Gabrielle Daleman and she’ll be looking to solidify her position on Canada’s national team with the hiatus from competition of reigning world champion Kaetlyn Osmond, who announced last summer she was taking an indefinite hiatus from competitive skating.

• Jan. 28 The only two local teams to be ranked provincially in girls’ high school basketball so far this season will face each other in league play for the first time. The Riverside Rapids, who were slotted third heading into the new year, will play the Heritage Woods Kodiaks, who received an honourable mention, at the Port Moody school at 6 p.m.

The Rapids finished sixth in the Surf division at the prestigious Surf N’ Slam Hoop Classic in San Diego, Cal., and guard Jessica Parker was named to the division’s all-star team.

The Kodiaks are still working their way back from injuries to four of the team’s starting players.

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