by Eddie Gregory I
Prince George put the Express on the brink of elimination with a 5-2 win in game 3 of the Mainland division semi final to open a 3-0 series lead. Click here for boxscore
The visitors looked early on put the Express away early peppering Kolby Matthews with plenty of shots. Their reward came just shy of the 8 minute mark when the puck bounced to Chong Min Lee who tapped it home for a 1-0 Prince George lead.
Alex DiPaolo had the reply for the Express 5 minutes later burying the rebound of a Jack Cameron shot after the blue liner jumped down deep then finding a way to get the puck to the net.
That goal sparked a turn in the play which saw the Express finish strong and coming out of the period with a 14-13 advantage in shots.
Nick Poisson rushed into the Express zone then dished to his brother Ben who snapped a wrist shot just inside the post for a 2-1 Spruce Kings lead.
It was a little harder for the Express to generate scoring chances in the second after the first. But they scrapped their way to find the equalizer late in the period. Dallas Farrell found himself tangled up behind the play with Layton Ahac. The officials allowed it to continue until the players separated. Farrell then went to the net and slid home his first of the series to tie the game at 2.
The tie only lasted just 1:21 before Chong Min Lee found Ben Poisson who scored his second of the net for a 3-2 Prince George lead after 40.
One of two things was going to happen in the third period. Either the Express were going to play with a sense of desperation with the hopes of avoiding a 3-0 series hole. Or Prince George was going to lull the game down the way a proven playoff team can. It was the latter that ended up occurring.
Layton Ahac scored on one timer at 8:40 for a two goal Prince George lead that may have felt like the Express had to scale Mount Everest in order to overcome.
When the Express did get pucks to the net Logan Neaton was there to quash any hopes as he finished with 30 saves.
Liam Watson-Brawn sealed the game with an empty net goal while the Express were on a 6 on 4 powerplay in the final minute of the game.
Game 3 was a pretty cleanly played game with each team only being assessed one penalty each, both coming in the third period.
Game 4 goes Tuesday night in Coquitlam with the Express hoping to extend their season to a game 5.