by Eddie Gregory
Game 1 of the Mainland Division semi final between the Express and the Spruce Kings went as most people expected, a low scoring affair that saw the BCHL’s top defensive team come out on top 3-1 to take a 1-0 series lead in the best of 7. Click here for boxscore
The first period was a penalty filled affair. Prince George got the early jump on the Express scoring on their first powerplay on a cross ice one timer that was buried by Nick Poisson past Clay Stevenson.
Logan Neaton at the other end made some his best saves of the first period with the Express on the powerplay. Most notably denying Chase Danol on a rebound chance.
The Express couldn’t strike on their first three powerplays of the opening period. Their 4th came late in the frame. Regan Kimens was denied twice on cross ice passes late in the opening period.
10-10 was the shot count after the first period.
Connor Gregga scored your typical type playoff goal in the opening minute of the 2nd period jamming a puck under Logan Neaton to tie the game at 1 just 45 seconds into the period.
Josh Wildauer came close to the giving the Express their first lead of the night on a rebound chance in close that was shut down by Neaton.
Layton Ahac put Prince George back in the lead just under 4 minutes after Gregga’s goal with a shot from the left wing boards that sailed over the glove of Clay Stevenson.
That goal sparked a flurry of activity that saw Patrick Cozzi fan on a shot on a great chance in the slot.
Regan Kimens then delivered one of the best hits of the night in the neutral zone, then watched the play go into the Express end where Clay Stevenson made a glove save off Ben Brar.
Jordan Schulting rang a shot off the goal post with 4 minutes left in the 2nd period.
The second goal of the night was one probably Clay Stevenson would want to have back. But he responded afterwards with some of his best saves of the night to this point. He made a marvellous glove save off Nick Poisson to keep it just a 2-1 game through 2 periods.
Prince George put the clamp down on the game in the third period liming the Express to just 4 shots and they finished the game with 22 on the night.
Clay Stevenson kept the Express one shot away with a breakaway save off Dustin Manz on a shorthanded opportunity.
Manz got his revenge in the final minute sealing the game with an empty net goal.
Prince George outshot the Express 29-22. The Express went 1 for 5 on the powerplay while the Spruce Kings went 1 for 3.
Game 2 of the series goes Saturday night in Prince George.