The wheels didn't fall off the Langley Rivermen's wagon Sunday at the Langley Events Centre, they disintegrated.
Coming off a 5-1 loss on home ice to the defending B.C. Hockey League champion Penticton Vees the night before, the 'Men turned out to be easy prey for the Surrey Eagles.
Powered by a three goal, two assist performance from newly acquired Adam Tambellini, the Eagles routed the Rivermen 102 in front of a sparse matinee crowd of 725 in the LEC's arena bowl.
Rivermen head coach Bobby Henderson said that the players will try to put the Surrey loss behind them.
"We addressed that game, and from a team perspective, it's a matter of turning the page and moving forward," Henderson said. "We still have a lot of work to do, but we can take positives out of the weekend. Both nights, we had a good start."
Rivermen starting goaltender Darren Hogg stopped 11 of 15 shots before making way for James Barr after Colton Mackie gave the Eagles a 4-2 lead at the 10: 27 mark of the second period.
The Eagles proceeded to put six more pucks past Barr, including five in the final stanza.
Down 2-0 after the first period, the Rivermen looked like they were going to make a game of it when BCHL leading scorer Mario Puskarich scored 46 seconds into the middle frame, and Austin Azurdia tied the score 3: 34 later.
But, after Demico Hannoun put the visitors ahead 3-2 at the 8: 06 mark of the middle frame, it was all Eagles.
"We were in a good position, but then they got a couple of quick ones and that took the air out of our balloon," Henderson said. Surrey's powerplay made the 'Men pay for their indiscretions, cashing in on five of eight powerplay opportunities.
The Eagles completely dominated the third period, outshooting the 'Men 26-6. A turning point came 1: 10 into the final frame when the Eagles were awarded a lengthy power-play.
Rivermen defenceman Aaron Dolby racked up seven minutes in penalties for fighting and instigating an altercation, after being involved in a one-man fight with Surrey's Brady Shaw.
"They took a good run at Evan Campbell, one of our better players, and Aaron had to stand up for his teammate and let them know that liberties were not going to be okay," Henderson said.
Surrey led 5-2 at the time. Tambellini, acquired from the Vernon Vipers at the B.C. Hockey League trade deadline on Jan. 10, was the beneficiary of mounds of Eagles' powerplay time.
Two of Tambellini's three goals came while the Eagles were enjoying a man advantage. Tambellini is now tied with Puskarich for the league lead in goals, with 27.
Penticton Vees 5, Rivermen 1 The Vees ended the 'Men's four-game winning streak after beating them by four goals Saturday night at the LEC.
The win sealed the season series for the Vees, who took the first meeting by an identical 5-1 score Dec. 8.
Barr got the start for Langley, while back-up Nic Renyard got the call for Penticton.
The Rivermen had a fantastic start for the first five minutes of the game, but could not slip any pucks past Renyard.
The Vees opened up the scoring just before the 10-minute mark on a goal from 16-year-old Ryan Gropp.
Five minutes later, the Vees' Brad McClure spotted a loose puck in front of Barr and lifted the puck top corner to make it 20 going into the second period.
The Vees continued to pour it on with goals from Sean Flanagan, Jordan McCallum, and Michael Rebry.
Langley had a couple of grade A scoring opportunities, but Renyard was outstanding and showed great rebound control throughout.
The third period was easily the best frame for the 'Men.
They held the Vees off the board and scored the lone goal of the period courtesy of Derek Sutliffe.
Mitch McLain put the puck down low to Nathan Craft, who then spotted an oncoming Sutliffe heading towards the net. After taking the pass, Sutliffe fired the puck top corner for his 10th goal of the season.
With that goal, Sutliffe extended his point streak to seven games.
ICE CHIPS: The Rivermen, who were on a promising four-game win streak heading into last weekend, are now on a two-game slide.
They also fell below .500, at 15-16-1-5, and hold a slim one-point advantage over the fifth-place Coquitlam Express in the battle for the fourth and final playoff spot in the BCHL's Mainland Division.
The Rivermen's lone game of the weekend is this Friday, when they visit the Express at Coquitlam's Poirier Sports and Leisure Centre. Opening puck drop is 7 p.m.
Henderson said the Rivermen know they are better than what they showed last weekend.
"It's a matter of refocusing and getting ready for a big weekend coming up," he said. "They [the players] aren't happy with the end result. We know we're a better team than the scores indicate. It's a matter of addressing it and moving forward."
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