Eric Welsh – Chilliwack Progress
The best home-ice team in the BCHL find themselves in a 2-0 hole in the opening round of the BCHL playoffs.
Mark Gallant scored the winner with 4:59 remaining in double overtime Saturday night as the Langley Rivermen stunned the Chilliwack Chiefs 3-2 at Prospera Centre.
The home team put 54 shots on Langley netminder Braedon Fleming, and he stopped 52.
His team now heads home to the George Preston Arena for games three and four of this best-of-seven series Monday and Tuesday night.
The Chiefs opened the scoring 5:53 into period one with a power play goal by Skyler Brind’Amour, who drove hard to the net and popped home the rebound of a Harrison Blaisdell shot.
Langley got that back at 12:25 with a power play goal of their own.
Ethan Leyh missed on a hot shot from the right faceoff circle, but the puck found Jake Livingstone’s stick to the left of the Chilliwack net and he buried a sharp-angle shot behind Chiefs goalie Daniel Chenard.
Just over two minutes later, sloppy coverage led to the second Langley goal, potted by Gallant. Daneel Lategan was allowed to skate unchecked into the high slot and rifle a shot on net. The rebound came to Gallant who punched it in at 14:34.
Through 20 minutes the Rivermen led 2-1 on the scoreboard and 11-10 on the shot clock.
The home team came alive in the second period, looking more like the top-seed favourite they’re supposed to be.
Nathan Kelly sent a wrist shot on net from the point and Carter Wilkie, Ethan Bowen and Brett Willits all waded into the goal mouth hunting the loose puck. Willits tracked it down, wheeling 180 degrees and firing the puck through Fleming to tie the game at 2-2.
But that was the high point for the Chiefs, who struggled to generate good chances against a surprisingly stingy Langley D.
The third period came and went without a goal, and the teams ended up in overtime.
Langley thought they had it won 7:51 into the first OT period, but the apparent goal by Gallant was waved off due to ‘incidental contact’ by Rivermen forward Ethan Leyh on Chenard.
Chilliwack got lucky there.
The first overtime session ended without a goal and they almost made it through a second before the game was ended.
From the left faceoff circle, Lategan fed a pass to Gallant who fought off a Chiefs defender and ripped a wrister past the blocker of Chenard to give Langley the W.
The three stars were Nathan Kelly (first), Ethan Leyh (second) and Gallant (third).
The Energy Player of the Game was Brett Rylance.