The Coquitlam Express surrendered two goals to the Wenatchee Wild in the final 1:41 of regulation time, then another in overtime, to turn a 3-1 third period lead into a 4-3 defeat Sunday at the snowy Poirier Sports and Leisure Complex.
It was the team’s eighth loss in a row. Three of those have been in extra time or a shootout.
The single point the Express did earn restores their three-point margin over the Langley Riverment in the race to finish third in the BC Hockey League’s Mainland division. The Rivermen had their own problems over the weekend, as they dropped a 4-3 decision in a shootout Friday against the Surrey Eagles and then were drubbed 6-0 by Prince George on Saturday.
Against the Wenatchee, Coquitlam scored the only goal of the first period. Connor Gregga put the finishing touch on a rush by Jared Power, who dished off to Jordan Schulting at the centre line who then fed Gregga at the Wild’s blue line. Gregga made a nice backhand to forehand move across the crease and deposited the puck underneath Wenatchee goalkeeper Austin Park.
Jack Cameron put the home team up 2-0 with a rapier shot from just inside the left face-off dot late in the second period. It was his third goal of the season. But it held up for less than a minute as Wenatchee’s Nathan Iannone halved the advantage, beating Coquitlam’s Kolby Matthews at 18:31 of the frame.
Christian Sanda then made it 3-1 for the Express with 5:27 left in the third period.
But with the game clock inside of two minutes left in regulation, Chad Sasaki scored his 13th goal of the season to narrow Coquitlam’s lead to a goal, then Marko Reifenberger connected on the power play with exactly a minute to go to send the game into a 5-minute overtime.
The Express hand a couple of good chances in the overtime period to make good on a victory for their final home game of the season, but a broken play at centre sprung Wenatchee’s Murphy Stratton who made no mistake converting his breakaway into completing the Wild’s comeback victory.
The Express embark on their four-game road trip that will end their regular season schedule with a game next Saturday in Powell River. They’ll then visit Cowichan Valley for an afternoon game on Sunday.