In the end, back-to-back overtime losses were too much for the Langley Rivermen to overcome.
“It was tough to bounce back from that,” admitted head coach and general manager Bobby Henderson, a few days after his junior A hockey club’s season came to a close.
The Rivermen lost in five games to the Wenatchee Wild.
The teams had split the first two games in Wenatchee, Langley winning the opener 4-3 while the Wild won by that same score the next night, except in overtime.
And game three was a huge momentum shifter.
After Langley recovered from a 4-0 first period deficit and a 6-4 disadvantage in the third, the Wild won on a fluky goal 18 seconds into overtime for the 7-6 win and series lead.
Game four was 5-0 for Wenatchee — although it was just 2-0 heading into the third period — and the Wild closed things out with a 3-1 victory in game five.
The final goal came into an empty net, so four of the five games were essentially one-goal hockey games.
“Their goalie was hot the last three games,” Henderson said. “We had plenty of chances but just couldn’t capitalize. “It was just that kind of series.”
The Rivermen scored 14 goals in the series, but just one in the final 120 minutes.
The Wild’s Chase Perry was in goal for the game one loss and then after sitting game two, returned to the net in game three following a pair of quick Rivermen goals.
But after Langley scored four times in game three, Perry virtually shut the door the rest of the way. He stopped all 29 shots in game four and then made 25 saves on 26 shots in the series clincher.
Torrin White was Langley’s leading scorer, potting four of his team’s 14 goals.
The Rivermen were hurt by the absence of their leading scorer in the regular season, Justin Fregona, who was only able to play in game one of the series. He had 24 goals and 49 points in 51 regular season games.
Now that the emotion of losing a series has settled down, Henderson said it was another successful campaign.
“We cracked the 30-win mark and moved a lot of players on. And we have some good young players returning, and good recruits lined up,” Henderson said.
“All in all, I have to say it was a successful season. I mean, you want to play as long as you can, but for us it is about developing players and moving them along.”
A dozen of the team’s 23 players earned NCAA scholarships.
Nine of those are scheduled to leave for their respective schools next season.
The Rivermen also dressed 13 BCHL rookies this past season.