by Eddie Gregory I
Tanner Versluis scored with 1:23 left in the third period to give the Langley Rivermen a 3-2 win over the Express. Click here for boxscore
The win improved Langley to 5-1 vs. the Express this season.
In the first 5 games of the 6 game home stand for the Express the games were more wide open which allowed the Express to pile up the offence with 4 wins in 5 games.
Friday was a lock it down, fight for your ice tight game where it matched the Express skill against the Rivermen will.
The Express bent in the opening half of the first period, but never broke and moments after killing off a Juliano Santalucia penalty, Ty Westgard set up Pito Walton in the slot whose shot was stopped by Braedon Fleming, but Regan Kimens buried the rebound to open the scoring.
Dallas Farrell kept up his productive play on this home stand taking feed in the slot and ripping a powerplay goal over the shoulder of Fleming for a 2-0 Express lead after 1.
Langley outshot the Express 12-10 in the first period, then in the second the Express tightened up their game in the second to the tune of opening a 8-0 lead in shots in the middle frame. But Fleming shut the door on the Express.
Once Langley got in position for their first shot late in the period, Daneel Lategan quickly rushed up the ice after the Express turned the puck over at the attacking blueline and Lategan’s shot was stopped by Matthews but the rebound was buried by Riley Lanthier to make it a 2-1 game.
The third period set up for the Express needing to clamp down against a Langley team that used their physicality to slow down the skill of the Express. It was going to require finding a way to fight through the tight checking of the Rivermen to seal the win.
But slowly the Rivermen wore down the Express as the period ticked down.
At 12:22 Juliano Santalucia battling a bouncing puck in the Express zone eventually ended up behind the Express net where it was quickly fed out front to Daneel Lategan who tied it.
The chances for the Express in the third period were limited. Their best opportunity came to the stick of Christian Sanda who was stopped in tight with about 3 minutes to play.
Moments later Pito Walton was whistled for closing his hand on the puck after scooping a rebound off Kolby Matthews giving Langley a late powerplay.
Following a Langley time out a shot from the point by Jake Livingstone hit the glass then created a scramble opportunity for Tanner Versluis to jam in loose puck at the side for the Express net with 1:23 to play and the first Langley lead of the night at 3-2.
The Express did pull Matthews for the extra attacker and created scramble opportunities in the crease, but Fleming held on as he shut the door with 17 saves in the final 40 minutes to allow his team to claw back for the win.
Langley improved to 5-1 vs. the Express this season. The teams meet again Saturday night in Langley.