by Eddie Gregory
The Coquitlam Express winning streak was snapped at five games thanks to a third period rally by the Chilliwack Chiefs to defeat the Express by a 4-1 score. The Chiefs scored all their goals in the 3rd period for the come from behind win. Click here for boxscore
The Express stormed Chilliwack in the opening minutes peppering Mathieu Caron with the first five shots of the game. Christian MacDougall had the best chance early on taking a pass and finding himself alone in front of the net only to lift his shot too high and out of play.
Tyler Schleppe then was set up in the slot only to be denied by a quick glove save from Caron. Then Caron made his best save of the night coming to his left to rob Brad Ong on a two on one break with a pad save.
At the other end Tyler Schleppe made a great play defensively diving to get a stick on a cross ice pass to break up a Chiefs two on one break.
Thursday’s game saw the return to the lineup of forward Josh Wildauer and Massimo Rizzo made his Express debut. They joined Connor Gregga on a line. And the addition of Rizzo down the middle moved Connor Gregga to the wing.
Rizzo’s impact was immediately felt on the first goal of the night. He took a pass with speed on the powerplay from Steven Bellini. Rizzo then slid the puck into Connor Gregga’s wheelhouse where he ripped home his first of the season to open the scoring. That goal capped off a strong opening 20 minutes that saw the Express outshoot Chilliwack 13-5.
Chilliwack was determined in the second period to send more rubber the way of Clay Stevenson. That was highlighted by Stevenson quickly shutting the five hole on a chance for Brett Willits.
As the second period wound down the Express created more top notch chances. Connor Gregga came close to adding his second of the night but had his stick checked at the last minute as he tired to tuck it in past Caron. Then Massimo Rizzo dished a cross ice pass to Ryan Tattle who had to adjust his angle to receive the pass but still got a decent shot away and put it wide of the net.
Brett Willits got Chilliwack on the board in the 3rd period finishing a give and go with Peter Reynolds to tie the game at 1 at 4:25.
8 minutes into the third Cooper Connell was whistled for a tripping penalty on Cooper Moore deep in the offensive zone. The Express penalty killers did a good job on the penalty kill by disrupting the Chiefs break out with strong up ice pressure most notably by Ryan Tattle.
But just as the penalty came to an end and before Connell could get back in the play the puck was snapped to the side of the Express net where Joey Larson scored to give Chilliwack a 2-1 lead.
Then in a blink of an eye Chilliwack scored again as Kyle Penny snapped a shot through the pads of Clay Stevenson for a 3-1 Chiefs lead with the goal coming just 16 seconds after the goal by Larson.
Caron shut the door in the third period finishing with 9 saves in the final frame. That capped off a 27 save performance.
Ethan Bowen capped the game off for Chilliwack by hitting the empty net with 5 seconds to play to round out the scoring.
The Express saw their record fall to 7-2 on the season. Chilliwack’s win was their 4th straight and they pulled within two points of the Express for first place in the Mainland division.
Saturday will see the Express in Penticton for their second game of the showcase bright and early at 10 in the morning vs. the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.