by Eddie Gregory
The Express had three two goal leads, but lost by two goals by a 7-5 score in Langley. The loss extends the Express season high losing streak to four games. Click here for boxscore
The opening three minutes was a good indication of what was to come on this night. A turnover in the Express zone led to a good chance for Daneel Lategan that was stopped by Clay Stevenson. Moments later the Express got their attack going.
Connor Gregga in the high slot re-directed a pass from the boards by Cole Edgerton beating Braedon Fleming for a 1-0 Express lead.
That was followed just 37 seconds later by Josh Wildauer banging home a loose puck at the side of the Rivermen net for a 2-0 Express lead before the game was 3 minutes old. Heading into this game Head Coach Jason Fortier had the blender out mixing up his top three lines hoping for a change in results. Early on the changes appeared to be paying off.
But despite the early lead, there were signs that this wasn’t going to be an easy night for the Express.
Numerous defensive breakdowns led to quality chances for Langley including breakaways for Trevor Ayre and William Stromp that was stopped by Clay Stevenson to preserve the two goal lead for the time being.
Midway through the first the Rivermen got on the board on a goal from Chase Pletzke beating Stevenson with a wrist shot over his glove.
Alex DiPaolo restored the Express two goal lead late in the opening period after being sprung following two good passes from Danny Pearson and Dallas Farrell and DiPaolo snapping a shot past the stick of Fleming.
But the two goal lead masked some of the quality chances Langley had in the opening period after they outshot the Express 19-13. The Express also lost the services of captain Troy Robillard who went down with injury and he didn’t return.
In the second period Ethan Leyh sparked a Rivermen comeback by first scoring a powerplay goal with a wrist shot from the off wing at 2:13. The Express have now allowed a powerplay goal in 4 straight games giving up 9 goals while a man down in that time.
Leyh scored his second of the night just over three minutes later with a backhand following a shot from CJ Walker from the right wing to tie the game at three.
Danny Pearson returned to the lineup after missing the previous three games with injury. The rookie forward has had a solid season so far. He took another step on the right direction Tuesday. He assisted on DiPaolo’s first period goal.
In the second period he cut in from the right wing snapping a shot past Fleming to give the Express a 4-3 lead. Then just 24 seconds later he re-directed a Pito Walton point shot for his second of the night and a 5-3 Express lead.
That goal chased Braedon Fleming after 5 goals on 15 shots and Rivermen newcomer Shayne Battler recently acquired from the NOJHL made his Rivermen debut.
With their second two goal lead of the game the Express appeared to settle their game down carrying their lead into the third period.
5 minutes into the third with the Express on the powerplay the roof caved in on. A turnover allowed William Stromp to score on a breakaway for a shorthanded goal to pull Langley within one.
Then exactly a minute later another defensive breakdown resulted in a stretch pass to spring Ethan Leyh who completed his hat-trick with shot between the pads of Stevenson for two Langley shorthanded goals on the same penalty and the game was tied at 5 as the Rivermen erased their second two goal deficit of the night.
The Express never recovered from the two shorthanded goals allowed. Devin Leduc gave Langley their first lead as he beat Cooper Connell back to the net and buried a William Stromp rebound for a 6-5 Langley lead at 12:30.
At the other end the Express had very few quality chances to test Battler who was perfect in his 32 minutes on 14 Express shots.
Trevor Ayre iced the game with an empty net goal in the final minute to round out the scoring.
Langley finished with 49 shots which was a new season high for shots allowed by the Express this season.
The Express will look to get back in the win column when they return home to play host to the Penticton Vees.