Chiefs complete epic comeback to beat Rivermen
The Chilliwack Chiefs saved their best for last Wednesday night, roaring back from three down in the final minutes to edge the Langley Rivermen 4-3 at Prospera Centre.
The Chiefs scored four goals in the final six minutes and 28 seconds to extend their unbeaten streak to five games.
In the process, they took two valuable points from a Mainland division opponent that still doesn't know what hit them.
This game was scoreless through 20 minutes, thanks in large part to the goaltenders.
Mitch Gillam did what Mitch Gillam does at the Chilliwack end, stopping 15 pucks, and James Barr was his equal at the other end, making a handful of stellar stops.
His best came off Chiefs forward Josh Hansen, who took a stretch pass from Austin Plevy and rolled in on a breakaway. The Chilliwack kid tried the five hole, only to see Barr snap the leg pads shut and keep it out.
On the same shift, Plevy set up Luke Esposito with a cross-the-slot feed, only to see his linemate shoot the one-timer half a foot wide.
The other highlight of note in the first period was a brief scrap between Chilliwack's David Thompson and Langley's Mitch McLain.
McLain got the Chiefs captain fired up with an elbow to the chops, and paid the price when the gloves came off.
Thompson hammered away, dropping his 19-year-old foe with a well placed right jab.
The Rivermen landed the body blows in the second period, putting three pucks in the net.
Langley scored twice in 1:53 to start the onslaught.
Aaron Dolby scored the first at 3:48 on a power play wrist shot, with Chilliwack's Garrett Forster serving two minutes for an ill-advised retaliatory slash. Mario Puskarich scored his fourth of the year a couple shifts later, putting the Chiefs in a 2-0 hole.
McLain added to the Langley lead with 5:15 remaining in the middle frame.
The Florida native got a step on newest Chief Kiefer McNaughton, driving wide around the big blueliner before beating Gillam for his first goal of the season.
Shots on goal through 40 minutes favoured Langley 30-27.
Cue the epic comeback.
After making Barr look like Jacques Plante for 53 minutes, the Chiefs made him look like Hardy Astrom in the final six and a half.
Chilliwack got on the board with 5:48 left, with Luke Esposito pulling the trigger. The Connecticut native rushed down the left wing, pulled the puck into the slot and beat Barr glove side for his third of the year.
Esposito scored again 20 seconds later, lighting the lamp from 20 feet out on a shorthanded two-on-one.
Ryan Donohoe scored the equalizer with 4:08 left. Spencer Graboski led the rush, feeding to Ben Masella who in turn fed Donahoe. The Ontario native caught Barr leaning too far to the left, and lifted the puck over his blocker for his fourth of the year.
Graboski completed the comeback with 2:48 remaining.
The Quesnel native wired a hot shot from the high slot that whipped past Barr, bringing the announced crowd of 1,677 to its feet.
The stunned Rivermen had nothing left, and looked like a truly dejected bunch as they left the ice.
The three stars were Graboski (third), Puskarich (second) and Esposito (first).
The Chiefs return to home ice Saturday night, hosting the Vernon Vipers.
Puck drop is 7 p.m.