by Eddie Gregory
The Express showed a short memory to quickly move on from their loss Wednesday vs. Langley and got right back in the win column by a 4-1 score over the Vernon Vipers Friday. Click here for boxscore
Both teams tried to establish physical dominance along the boards at either end in the opening minutes of the game. But once the Express got free their speed helped lead to scoring chances.
Pito Walton’s mobility helped create chances in the opening period. Eventually it led to the games first goal.
He carried it deep in the Vernon zone and found Regan Kimens at the edge of the crease and he tipped it past Aidan Porter to open the scoring.
It was the first time in 6 games that the Express had scored first.
Vernon had three minutes of powerplay time in the opening half of the second period. That was when they got some of their best scoring chances on Express goaltender Clay Stevenson. His best save of the night was a trio of saves on a Viper powerplay where Stevenson made the original save on Jack Judson’s point shot, he followed that up with two more good saves on the subsequent rebounds.
As the game creeped towards the midway mark of the contest, the game slowly started to tilt in the Express favour.
Alex DiPaolo intercepted a Vipers pass and quickly dished to Christian Sanda who best Porter with a wrist shot over his shoulder. Sanda’s goal was his 10th of the season which surpassed his total in 55 games last season.
Moments later with the Express on a powerplay a bobble by Drew Cooper at the Vipers blueline allowed Jagger Williamson to walk in on a partial breakaway. As Cooper hustled back to impede the chance, the Vipers captain was awarded a penalty shot.
On the free pass Clay Stevenson shutdown Williamson who tried to beat him five hole.
Early in the third seconds after an Express powerplay expired Connor Gregga buried a rebound at the side of the Viper net for a 3-0 Express lead. For Gregga, it was his second goal in as many games.
At this point, the only thing left to decide was if Clay Stevenson would post his first BCHL shutout.
Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. Jagger Williamson tipped a long slap shot from the Vipers end of the ice by Mitch Andres. Stevenson made the save, but couldn’t control the rebound which was put home by Josh Latta for the only Viper goal of the night. Stevenson finished with 31 saves for his 7th win of the season and his 6th in a row to improve his record to 7-1.
Josh Wildauer put the icing on the cake midway through the third period chipping the puck over the shoulder of Porter for a powerplay goal.
Tempers got a little short in the final minutes of the game. Josh Wildauer capped off a Gordie Howe hat-trick following a fight with Carver Watson.
The win improved the Express to 9-2-1 on home ice. And they still remain three points back of the Chilliwack Chiefs for top spot in the overall BCHL standings.
They will hit the road next weekend for games in Trail and Wenatchee.