The Langley Thunderâ€™s rollercoaster season has been very similar to the 1958 wooden scream-ride at Playland.
Itâ€™s been jolting, hard on your system, and will leave you a little light-headed and shaken by the time it mercifully rolls to a stop.
After a steady climb up the Western Lacrosse Association standings, in which they went 6-2 over an eight-game stretch and hovered above .500 at 6-5 after an 0-3 start, down went the Thunder again.
And itâ€™s been a swift, tummy-turning descent.
A 10-6 road loss to the New Westminster Salmonbellies on Thursday marked the Thunderâ€™s sixth straight setback and dropped their record to 6-11.
As a result, Langley has missed the WLA playoffs for the first time in four years. They made back-to-back Mann Cup national championship appearances in 2011 and â€™12 and lost to Victoria in the WLA playoff final in 2013.
â€œIts been really tough,â€ said Thunder bench boss Rod Jensen, who missed the playoffs for the first time since taking the coaching reins in 2011. â€œWhen you have a young team with players who havenâ€™t played too much at this level you have to keep yourself thick-skinned, and we were vulnerable. It wasnâ€™t for a lack of effort: itâ€™s just that the guys didnâ€™t execute well and didnâ€™t do the basics. Weâ€™d have one good period and then two bad periods.â€
Jensen said this yearâ€™s team, with a dearth of senior A experience, was completely different from the star-studded squads that won back-to-back WLA titles and made it to the league final last season.
â€œBut I donâ€™t want to downplay the fact that this was an enjoyable team to coach, even though we didnâ€™t get results,â€ Jensen said. â€œWe werenâ€™t faking it, we wanted to win and wanted to do what it took, but this year was an eye-opener for some of the guys.â€
A bright note was the play of veterans Alex Turner and Ethan Iannucci.
Jensen said Turner had a â€œphenomenal year,â€ and heading into tomorrow nightâ€™s home finale leads the Thunder in goals (31), assists (33) and points (64).
Iannucci, a towering right-hander, also was a strong leader with 23 goals and 55 points.
New Westminster Salmonbellies 10, Thunder 6
At Queenâ€™s Park Arena in New West, the host â€™Bellies led 3-2 after the first period and 8-4 after 40 minutes before cruising to victory.
Jeff Cornwall and Tyler Crompton each scored twice for the Salmonbellies, who, with an 8-9 record, hold on to the fourth and final playoff spot in the seven-team WLA.
Tyler Melynk notched a hat trick for the Thunder, while Turner added a pair. Brett Baron also scored for Langley.
Maple Ridge Burrards 9, Thunder 3
The Burrards all but won the game in the first period, scoring five unanswered goals while out-shooting the Thunder 18-8.
Three of the goals, from Garrett McIntosh at 15:08, Riley Loewen at 16 minutes, and Aaron Davis at 17:39, came 2:31 apart from each other.
The goal outburst prompted Jensen to call a time out to settle his troops.
Down 5-0, the hosts settled down somewhat, limiting the Burrards to three goals while scoring two of their own in the middle frame, and exchanging a goal each with Maple Ridge in the final stanza.
The Burrards took an 8-1 lead on Andrew Murphyâ€™s unassisted goal 15:21 into the second period.
Loewen scored a hat trick for the Burrards with singles coming off the sticks Jarrett Davis (who added three assists), Andrew Murphy and Patrick Oâ€™Meara (who each had a three-point night on a goal and two helpers), Aaron Davis, and Ben and Garrett McIntosh.
Turner scored twice for the Thunder, with Daniel McQuade notching the final goal of the game.
FINAL BUZZER: The Thunder close out their regular season tomorrow night (Wednesday, July 30), when they host Nanaimo at the LEC. Game time is 7 p.m.
The Timbermen sit in the WLA cellar with a 4-11-1 record.