Sports

Reichert forces OT, Puskarich buries winner as Langley splits road trip

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Jakob Reichert scored late and Mario Puskarich buried the double overtime winner as the Langley Rivermen salvaged a split on their weekend road trip.

The junior A hockey club won 3-2 on Saturday in Salmon Arm, one night after a 2-1 loss in Merritt to the Centennials.

"For the most part, the guys competed really hard," said coach Bobby Henderson.

"They showed pretty good resilience.

"The guys didn't get discouraged and just kept playing hard."

In both games, the Rivermen had the advantage when it came to shots on goal, but unfortunately, their efforts were not rewarded on the first night as they ran into a hot goaltender in Tyler Steel, who turned aside 41 of the 42 shots he faced. That included some grade A scoring chances such as back-to-back breakaways.

"We had our chances, we just couldn't get the job done," Henderson said.

"We ran into a hot goalie."

The lone goal to beat Steel came on the power play, and with the goaltender on the bench for another extra attacker, as Evan Campbell ruined the shutout with 47 seconds remaining.

Merritt led thanks to goals from Brandon Bruce and Derek Huisman, both of which came in the second period.

James Barr was no slouch in the Langley goal either as he turned aside 36 of the 38 shots he faced.

Saturday in Salmon Arm was much of the same as the Rivermen were playing from behind.

Jason Trott opened the scoring for the Silverbacks in the first with a short-handed goal.

In the second, Trevor Cope tied things up at one before Salmon Arm's Evan Schwalbe — on the power play — restored the hosts advantage.

Cope's goal came on a fluke play as Aaron Dolby's shot hit Cope's stomach and deflected past Colin Dzijacky. The goal extended Cope's point streak to six games.

And it looked like the Rivermen were on their way to defeat before Langley cashed in on their third power play chance, and with the goalie on the bench, of the period to force overtime.

Reichert took a pass from Bo Pellah on the wing, made a strong power move to the back-hand and lifted a shot to the top corner past Colin Dzijacky.

And after neither team could score four-on-four, the game went to double overtime and three-on-three. Both sides had glorious chances to score with the goalies standing on their heads to extend the game.

One shift after Barr stretched across to rob a sure goal, the Rivermen rewarded their goalie as Campbell found Puskarich behind the defence. And the sniper made no mistake, blistering a wrist shot blocker-side for the winner.

•••••

Langley (3-2-0-1) is at home for a pair of games this weekend, both against the Prince George Spruce Kings (4-1-1-0). The teams play Saturday at 7:15 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

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