For the second straight game, the Langley Rivermen led the contest 3-0 only for the opponent to erase the deficit. On Sunday the team managed to still pull out the victory in the end, but this time not so much as the Chilliwack Chiefs had a monumental comeback for a 4-3 win at Prospera Centre.
The first period was filled with chances from both sides, but Mitch Gillam and James Barr shut the door not allowing any goals. Gillam turned aside 15 shots, while Barr stopped 13. There were some grade A scoring chances to say the least, but both goalies were terrific making save after save.
The Rivermen turned it up a notch in the second frame exploding for three straight goals. Aaron Dolby scored his first career goal on a Rivermen power play on a great shot from the point. Jakob Reichert and Mario Puskarich made the whole thing happen on a great passing play down low, which opened up the shot from Dolby. Mario Puskarich then scored his fourth of the season less than two minutes later as he was left all alone in the slot and ripped a shot high glove side on Gillam. Mitch McLain would make it a 3-0 score notching his first BCHL goal on a rush down the right-wing that beat Gillam high blocker side from a sharp angle. The Rivermen would skate into the third period with a 3-0 lead and were looking very good.
The first 10 minutes had no scoring and the Rivermen looked poised to come away with the two points- that is until the 53 minute mark of the game hit. Luke Esposito got the ball rolling as he fired the puck towards the net that was meant to be a pass to an open teammate, but hit a Rivermen defender’s skate and pin-balled into the back of the net. Less than a minute later, Esposito scored another goal shorthanded on a 2 on 1 to cut the deficit to just one. Just over a minute later, Ryan Donahoe would get the equalizer on a pretty play in tight of the goal. With 3:48 remaining and on a power play, the Chiefs would complete the comeback and take the lead. Spencer Graboski would put home the go ahead goal to leave the Rivermen speechless. With the win, Chilliwack moves into first place in the Mainland Division, while Langley stays in fourth. In the end, the Chiefs outshot the ‘Men 43-40.
This is the third time this season the Rivermen have given up a 3-0 lead. Twice it has come back to bite them, and both of those losses happened at the Prospera Centre(PG at the Showcase). Sometimes a hard lesson can be good for a team, but this one will sting for the next 24 hours that is for sure. It just goes to show you that no lead is safe and a solid 53 minute effort won’t cut it. The good news is that they only have one day to think about it as West Kelowna comes to town on Friday night.