The Salmon Arm Silverbacks scored 4 unanswered goals to erase a pair of three goal deficits and Steven Iacobellis scored with 23 seconds left in the third period to give Salmon Arm a 5-4 win over the Express.
The loss officially clinched 4th place in the Mainland division for the Langley Rivermen and eliminated the Express from the playoff race with just two games left in the season.
Having won 5 of the last 6 games in 3 in a row entering the contest, the Express appeared to be in good shape to keep the run alive in the first 26 minutes of the game.
Justin Georgeson extended his goal scoring streak to 4 games just over 4 minutes into the game as he scored from a sharp angle on Adam Clark.
Then the Express got into some penalty trouble but found ways to get out of it and find ways to respond.
Moments after killing off a Brad Ryan interference penalty Marc Biega scored off the rush snapping a shot over the glove of Clark.
More Express penalties resulted in 5 on 3 to kill off for just under a minute and a double minor penalty to Brad Ryan for high sticking. The Express killed off those penalties and again scored shortly after returning to full strength as Brandon Morley poked in a loose puck at the side of the net to give the Express a 3-0 lead.
Everything appeared to be in good shape for the Express to take a 3 goal lead to the room, but then a brief lapse came back to bite the Express. A wrist shot from distance was turned aside by Cole Huggins but he gave up a big rebound which Brandon Mistal pounced on and roofed it over Huggins cut the Express lead to 3-1 with just 11 seconds left in the first period.
Justin Georgeson re-stored the 3 goal Express lead in the second period as he snapped home a one timer from the slot on the powerplay to give the Express a 4-1 lead. Georgeson has scored 6 goals in his last 4 games. He also had a pair of helpers on the other two Express goals for a four point afternoon. Adam Rossignol was also in a giving mood with 3 assists.
After re-storing a second three goal lead, at some point afterwards the game began to slip away from the Express.
Midway through the period Salmon Arm cut the Express lead back down to two on the powerplay as Brayden Sherbinin pinched in from the point and found a loose puck and poked it past Cole Huggins.
Salmon Arm scored a second straight late period goal following a lapse from the Express in their own zone. A turnover in their own end resulted in Harlan Orr stealing the puck and wiring a shot over the glove of Cole Huggins at 18:41 to cut the Express lead to one at 4-3.
The third period opened up with the Express presented a great opportunity to put the game away. Steven Iacobellis was called for holding then had a unsportsmanlike conduct penalty tacked on in the dying seconds of the second period to give the Express nearly 4 minutes of powerplay time to open the third period.
The Express man advantage didn't pay off as they had trouble setting it up in the Salmon Arm zone. A Brayden Sherbinin slashing penalty in the dying seconds of the Iacobellis penalties meant the Express opened the third period with nearly 6 minutes of powerplay time and came away with nothing.
The opportunity lost for the Express was a boost for the visitors. Mitchell Ferguson blasted home a slap shot from the left point over the shoulder of Cole Huggins with an Express delayed penalty in effect and the three goal lead was a thing of the past.
Now with just under 9 minutes remaining in the third period the Express need to at least make sure they got at least one point to keep any form of their playoff hopes alive.
It wasn't meant to be. Steven Iacobellis picked up his third point of the game as he banged home the rebound of a Shane Hanna point shot with 23 seconds left in the third period to give Salmon Arm their only lead of the game and hammer in the final nail of the playoff coffin for the Express.
The Express will finish off the 2012-13 season with a home and home next weekend with the Surrey Eagles.