The Chilliwack Chiefs nearly rallied from four down to beat the Langley Rivermen Saturday night, but the comeback fell one short in a 4-3 loss at Prospera Centre.
In a battle of Mainland division rival the Chiefs were the better team for 90 per cent of the game, but puck luck wasn’t on their side as they fell for just the second time in their last eight outings.
Chilliwack fell to 7-7-1-0 on the season while the division leading Rivermen improved to 7-3-6-0.
The Chiefs were undoubtedly the best team through 20 minutes, yet trailed 3-0 at the break.
Langley put their second shot of the game behind Chilliwack goaltender Mathieu Caron at 6:17.
Connor Marshall earned the assist with a hard drive to the net. Caron stopped the Florida native’s weak attempt with his right leg but left the puck sitting in the blue paint, where Eric Butte chipped it in for his second of the season.
Langley doubled the lead at 14:39 on a goal by Angus Crookshank, who powered past Chilliwack defenceman Brendan O’Reilly on a rush down the left wing and picked the far top corner with a rifle of a wrist shot.
The third Rivermen goal came on a power play at 15:57, scored by Marshall, who pursued a loose puck into the goal crease and nudged it across the line.
Three goals on eight first period shots and a new goaltender to start period two, with Daniel Chenard replacing Caron.
Carter Stephenson welcomed Chenard to the game with a power play goal at 2:32, beating him through a screen with a rocket shot from the high slot.
That’s the last one that would get behind the rookie.
Harrison Blaisdell finally got Chilliwack on the board 12:48 into the second period, but not without some drama. The 16 year old appeared to put a wrist shot under the cross bar behind Langley netminder Braedon Fleming, but it went in and out so fast that the officials let play continue.
At the next stoppage the stripes huddled and changed the call, giving Blaisdell his third of the year and breathing life back into the Chiefs and the hometown crowd.
Chilliwack spent just about the rest of the period buzzing around the Langley net, but couldn’t put another past Fleming.
They trailed 4-1 through 40, out-shooting the Rivermen 24-17.
Newcomer Adam Berg got his team within two 5:26 into the final frame. Berg was stationed in front of the Langley net as teammate Bryan Allbee put a shot on goal from the left point. Rivermen defender Alec Capstick left Berg alone in the goal-mouth and watched as the Calgary native popped the rebound past Fleming for his first goal as a Chief.
A shorthanded goal by Albee with 6:36 remaining set up a frantic finish.
The defenceman snuck into the goal-mouth, took a centering pass from Kaden Pickering, wheeled 180 degrees and swept a backhander past Fleming.
Chenard came to the bench in the final minute and seconds later Corey Andonovski misfired on a point-blank chance in the goal-mouth. Chilliwack had one last offence zone faceoff with 21.9 ticks remaining. Skyler Brind-Amour won the draw but Anthony Vincent’s shot was stopped and Langley escaped with the win.
Final shots on goal favoured the Chiefs 35-24.
The three stars were Allbee (first), Crookshank (second) and Blaisell (third).
The Fortis B.C. Energy Player of the Game was Jordan Roy.
Announced attendance was 1,952.