The Langley Rivermen appear to be coming close to snapping their losing streak.
Unfortunately for the ’Men, close doesn’t cut it.
On Friday, Langley’s British Columbia Hockey League’s squad dropped its fifth consecutive game, this time by a single goal to the Coquitlam Express.
And, for a second straight game, the opposition won with less than two minutes to play in regulation.
The Express snatched the victory in dramatic fashion, overcoming a 3-0 deficit on their way to a 5-4 victory at Coquitlam’s Poirier Sports and Leisure Centre.
The ice was noticeably tilted early – the Express played the first seven minutes of the game in the Rivermen’s end.
It looked as if it was going to be a long night for the ’Men, but to their credit they weathered the storm and were able to open the scoring.
Ben Greiner took a pass into the attacking zone from Mario Puskarich before sneaking a shot between the legs of Coquitlam goaltender Cole Huggins for his 12th of the year.
The Rivermen added to their lead late in the opening frame as Chris Tracy skated the puck to the slot and let go a wrist shot. The puck bounced off the crossbar and into to the back of the net as, for the third straight game, the local juniors took a two-goal lead into the second period.
Then, with his team on a powerplay in the middle frame, Darnell Dyck made it 3-0 for the visitors after he ripped a snapshot past Huggins, leading to the puckstopper being pulled.
The coaching move seemed to spark the Express as, with his team shorthanded, Clinton Atkinson fired a slapshot from the point past Langley goaltender James Barr to get Coquitlam on the board.
A little more than three minutes later, Express captain Alex Petan found room on the right wing and placed a pinpoint shot past Barr to cut the Rivermen’s lead to a single marker.
In the third period, Brady Shaw completed the comeback for the Express after he put home a loose puck for his team-leading 14th powerplay marker of the campaign.
A shift later, the Express turned the puck over in the neutral zone, allowing Rivermen centre Austin Plevy to move down the ice on a two-on-one with Dyck.
Plevy placed a perfect saucer pass on the tape of Dyck, who proceeded to put the puck top corner to regain the Rivermen lead for his second of the night.
The lead did not last long as Petan tied the game up at 4-4 on an impressive spin-o-rama pass from Malcolm Mckinney.
With overtime nearing, Coquitlam’s Zach Hodder rushed into the Langley end before firing a shot off the end wall. The puck ended up on the stick of Petan, who bagged his third of the game with just 1:43 to go in regulation.
It turned out to be the game-winner as the Rivermen couldn’t equalize with Barr pulled in favour of an extra attacker.
Petan recorded his second hat trick of the season against the Rivermen.
The ’Men saw their record drop to 17-32-1-5 with the loss, while the Express improved to 33-18-2-2.
The rubber match is tonight, but this time the teams meet at the Langley Events Centre in the series finale. Game time is 7 p.m.
The Rivermen close out their weekend Sunday afternoon at the LEC against the visiting Alberni Valley Bulldogs. Game time is 2 p.m.