Heart break and or frustration is the prevailing feeling for the Express after dropping game 2 of the Mainland division semi final 3-2 in overtime to the Prince George Spruce Kings. The Express had a pair of third period leads, but came out of the game with nothing. Click here for boxscore
The Express got the early jump on Prince George taking the early 1-0 lead on the powerplay on Josh Wildauer’s 1st of the series burying the rebound of a Chase Danol shot set up by a great cross ice pass from Dallas Farrell.
Jason Fortier tapped Kolby Matthews on the shoulder to start game 2. He turned aside the 7 first period Spruce Kings shots. Ben Poisson had the best chance for Prince George that didn’t register as a shot on goal on a re-direct to start a Spruce Kings powerplay.
Early in the 2nd period Regan Kimens somehow couldn’t convert a tap in opportunity at the side of the Spruce Kings net.
The Express did a good job in the 2nd period limiting the amount of time they spent defending in their own zone.
Ben and Nick Poisson had two of the best chances for Spruce Kings in the middle frame. Ben rang a shot off the goal post. Then Nick was robbed on a great glove save by Kolby Matthews.
Through 40 minutes the game was far from an entertaining affair. But the only thing that mattered at this point for the Express it was effective.
The solid defensive effort carried through to the midway mark of the third period.
Finally Prince George broke through off a won face-off in the Express zone. Chong Min Lee’s shot went in off the stick of Danny Pearson who tried to tip it away from the net but inadvertently tipped it past Kolby Matthews to the tie game at 1.
Josh Wildauer scored his second of the night with just over 4 minutes left in the third period converting a pass out of the corner by Regan Kimens for a 2-1 Express lead.
Then with just under 90 seconds left in the third period Ty Westgard coming back into his own zone slashed the stick out of the hands of a Spruce Kings player which resulted in a 6 on 4 advantage following a Spruce Kings time out.
It only took 9 seconds for the Spruce Kings to tie it at 2 off the won face-off in the Express zone, Ben Brar re-directed Layton Ahac’s shot with 1:33 to play sending the series to overtime for the first time.
Dustin Manz had the first good scoring chance of overtime but couldn’t beat the pad of Kolby Matthews.
Then a loose puck was just sitting in a open Express crease, but was thankfully cleared away before an Spruce Kings player could get a stick on it.
Christian Sanda had a good chance for the Express in overtime chopping at a loose puck in the slot, but couldn’t beat Logan Neaton who finished with 27 saves.
Then we had a rare occurrence in overtime. A fight between defensemen Jordan Schulting and Liam Watson-Brawn who were both automatically ejected midway through the period.
Controversy plagues the finish of this game. Troy Robillard fired a shot that was blocked at the point by Ben Brar. They then raced after the puck into the Express zone. Robillard appeared to reach with his stick and get a piece of the puck first before Brar goes down on the play. The Express captain however was whistled for the tripping penalty leaving the visitors furious.
Prince George was patient with their opportunity in overtime with Layton Ahac and Max Coyle playing catch with the puck at the point. Then Coyle let a shot got that was tipped home by Lucas Vanroboys for the winner and a 2-0 Spruce Kings lead in the series.
The Spruce Kings powerplay finished 2 for 5 on the night while the Express went 0 for 3.
39-29 was the shots on goal for Prince George.
The Express come home for game 3 Monday night down 2 games, but they certainly played well enough to put themselves in great shape to have at least come home with a split and maybe even a 2 game lead of their own. But that’s playoff hockey. A play here, and a play there can make so much of a difference.
Monday night the Express will hope that home ice for game 3 will help turn some of their fortunes of what has been a very tight series so far.