It's been a rough few days for the Langley Rivermen.
Langley's junior A hockey team is stuck in a rut, on a three-game losing streak after losing to Chilliwack Wednesday and dropping back-to-back contests to the West Kelowna Warriors Friday and Saturday.
The trio of losses dropped the 'Men's record to 5-5-0-1.
Wednesday at Chilliwack's Prospera Centre, the Chiefs erased a 3-0 deficit before scoring the winner with under four minutes to play to edge the 'Men 4-3.
Friday at the Langley Events Centre, the visiting Warriors opened a 3-0 lead after two periods and then cruised to a 4-1 victory.
The next night at the West Kelowna's Royal LePage Place, the Warriors scored four unanswered goals in the second and third periods to move ahead 4-2, then held on for a 4-3 win.
"We are looking ahead to our next game but at the same time we want to learn from our mistakes," Rivermen head coach Bobby Henderson said. "At the end of the day we have to learn to keep our composure and get the job done."
Consistency is the key to pulling out of this current funk, Henderson said.
"If you look at the games where we've had success, we had all four lines going and all six defence-men going," Henderson said. "Guys can't take nights off at this level. If you do, it's exposed."
Henderson added, "For us, it's strictly mental. The guys need to be ready to play night in, night out and one bad shift, one bad play can be the difference between us winning and losing. The league's that good: one mistake is going to cost us."
West Kelowna 4, Rivermen 3
It's a rare occurrence when a player scores back-to-back shorthanded goals, but that's exactly what the Rivermen's Derek Sutliffe accomplished in each of the first two periods as the visitors opened a 2-0 lead on the Warriors Saturday at West Kelowna's Royal LePage Place.
Then, the wheels fell off. The Warriors moved ahead 3-2 on a powerplay goal from Brett McKinnon and a pair from Marcus Basara 36 seconds apart in the dying moments of the middle frame.
Basara completed his hat trick 10: 41 into the third period to make it 4-2 Warriors.
Langley's Mario Puskarich narrowed the deficit to 4-3 when he scored 21 seconds later, but that was as close as the 'Men would come.
West Kelowna 4, Rivermen 1
Friday at the Langley Events Centre, Brennan Clark scored with seven seconds to go in the first period, followed by goals from David Pope and McKinnon in the middle frame as the Warriors moved ahead 3-0 after 40 minutes. McKinnon scored with 38 seconds left in the second period.
Austin Azurdia scored Langley's lone marker of the night 36 seconds into the third period.
Then, with 4: 35 remaining in regulation, Langley native Braxton Bilous tallied for the Warriors to round out the scoring.
James Barr took the loss in goal for the Rivermen, who were outshot 34-30.
Chilliwack Chiefs 4, Rivermen 3
For the second straight game, the 'Men led 3-0 only for the opponent to erase the deficit. On Sunday the Rivermen managed to still pull out the victory in the end. But this time the Chiefs had a monumental comeback for a 4-3 win at Prospera Centre.
The first period was filled with chances, but Chilliwack goaltender Mitch Gillam and Barr shut the door, not allowing any goals. Gillam turned aside 15 shots in the opening frame, while Barr stopped 13.
The Rivermen turned it up a notch in the second frame exploding for three goals. Aaron Dolby scored his first career goal on a Rivermen powerplay on a great shot from the point.
Jakob Reichert and Puskarich made the whole thing happen on a great passing play down low, which opened up the shot from Dolby.
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 made it a 3-0 score, notching his first BCHL goal on a rush down the right wing before beating Gillam high blocker side from a sharp angle.
The Rivermen would skate into the third period with a 3-0 lead.
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 two-on-one 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.
Finally, with 3: 48 remaining and on a Chilliwack powerplay, the Chiefs would complete the comeback and take the lead.
Spencer Graboski put home the go-ahead goal to leave the Rivermen speechless.
In the end, the Chiefs outshot the 'Men 43-40.
ICE CHIPS: Friday's home game at the LEC saw only 646 fans visit an arena bowl that seats close to 5,000.
Compare that to Langley's home opener on Sept. 22, when 2,235 people saw the Rivermen blank the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 7-0.
The 'Men play back-to-back home games at the LEC this weekend.
On Friday, they host the Prince George Spruce Kings at 7: 15 p.m.
Saturday sees the Vernon Vipers pay a visit, also at 7: 15 p.m.
Tickets are available at www.langleyeventscentre. com or at the door.
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