The Chilliwack Chiefs saw a five game winning streak snapped Sunday afternoon, but they still got a point out of a tough road game in Langley.
The Chiefs fell 6-5 in a shootout to the Rivermen, playing their fourth game in four and a half days. Fatigue showed up big time in the back half of the game.
The Chiefs led 5-1 at the 13:14 mark of period two after Xavier Henry scored his first of the season.
But they cratered from there.
“It was running out of gas mentally more than anything,” said head coach Brian Maloney. “We let them back into the game with mental errors, and it’s a good learning experience for our guys to know when to manage the puck.
“We had the opportunity to grind them down and walk away with two points, but we tried to push for more and it bit us in the butt.”
Things started unravelling when Brendan Budy made it 5-2 before the second period was done.
The Rivermen got third period goals from Budy, Devin Leduc and Tanner Komzak to send it to overtime.
“Most likely some of the mental errors don’t happen if they’re fresher, but that’s not an excuse,” Maloney said. “It’s not going to be any easier at playoff time. They’ve got to learn to manage the puck and make decisions when they’re fatigued and realize it’s not always point night.”
Chilliwack goalie Mathieu Caron faced 16 shots in the third period and 43 overall. In the shootout he thwarted Kalen Szeto and Joseph Musa, but Budy got to him for the decisive strike.
“He’s a smaller player, but you can tell Brendan knows how to play in the hard areas,” Maloney said. “He knows what it takes to compete at the next level and he’s that much hungrier at this level.”
Chilliwack’s Nikita Nesterenko, Carter Wilkie and Peter Reynolds came up empty in the shootout, stopped by Langley goalie Braedon Fleming.
Regulation time goals came from Henry, Brett Willits (two), Cooper Moore and Brett Rylance.Rylance scored a highlight reel end-to-end goal in a 4-2 win over Surrey Saturday and now has four goals in his last five games.
“He’s starting to show signs of what we expected him to be this year,” Maloney said. “We have a deep lineup, but these kids determine how much extra ice and opportunities they’ll get.
“Brett is starting to settle in and show signs of where he was at the end of last year.”
Moore collected his seventh of the season, which ties him with seven other players (including teammate Ethan Bowen) for third in BCHL goal scoring.
Five defenders have more points than Moore’s nine, but no one has more goals. Coquitlam’s Drew Cooper is the next highest goal scoring blueliner with four.
“He’s a pretty dynamic player who’s figuring it out more and more,” Maloney noted. “The offensive side is always there for him, but if he’s going to be a player at the next level, which I think he will be, then he has to learn how to defend and use his body and then let the offensive talent take over.”
The Chiefs (7-4-0-1) have collected points in six straight games and sit just one point back of Coquitlam (8-2-0-0) for first in the Mainland division standings. What they’ve done is impressive, considering Maloney doesn’t feel they’re playing anywhere near their best.
“To be honest, I’m kind of uneasy with everything,” he said. “It’s great to grab points, but I don’t think we’ve put together 60 minutes yet.
“But you’ve got to remember it’s early in the season and this is a young group. It’s going to take a half a year to figure it out completely and we just have to patient with them.”
The Chiefs are right back in action Wednesday night, hosting the Vernon Vipers at the Chilliwack Coliseum.
Game time is 7 pm.