Friday Night Hockey? Check. Game against your rival? Check. Thrilling game through three periods ending in a tie? Check. Overtime solved nothing? Check. Shootout??? Check. Major comeback performance for your goaltender on home ice to make the Train Station come unglued? Oh, you better believe it.
Coquitlam chose theatrics Friday night as they need their second shootout in four games and third game going beyond regulation in the same span to vanquish the Chilliwack Chiefs.
The Express came into this game energized beyond any doubt thanks to it being their annual Moms’ weekend. There’s just something different about getting out there on the ice when Mom is there in the crowd to cheer you on in person. You could see the energy it inspired amongst the players as they went full tilt from start to finish against a Chiefs squad coming in on a five-game win streak.
No sequence may have embodied this sentiment better than Joseph Odyniec’s shorthanded goal. The pride of Washington, DC not 30 seconds prior to opening the scoring for Coquitlam, nearly set up Drew Garzone on a two-on-one break that Garzone fired overtop of the goal. Odyniec hustled onto a flip pass sent down ice by Michael Adamek before quickly snapping it past Nikitin for his first career shorty.
Coquitlam was excellent defensively, astute in the neutral zone and they managed the puck extremely well on the breakout. Chilliwack was able to garner some offensive zone time throughout the game, but they had to work their tails off for it. And when Chilliwack was directing pucks to the goal, only a fraction of the total rubber to the goal was from real in tight areas.
The opportunities for the Chiefs that did make it through to the tough areas were sent packing by none other than the Burnaby Brick Wall. Adam Manji had himself a fantastic game this evening, especially when you factor in how well he bounced back after Sunday’s game against the Eagles. Chilliwack had several chances on the powerplay to crack this game open, but Manji and the defenders kept one of the better special teams units in the BCHL at bay.
Chilliwack would not be held off forever as with under two minutes to go in the third they pulled Nikitin to the bench for the extra attacker. The Chiefs looked to channel a bit of the 6-on-5 luck the Express have shown this year and they got it from Brian Morse. In a bit of Déjà vu to the way the playoffs ended for Coquitlam last season, Morse lobbed the puck through heavy traffic. It would find a body on the way through and deflect over the arm of Manji to tie the game and send things to the extra frame.
Once in overtime, both teams were careful with their possessions and the play flowed in heart stopping manner. But one sequence in particular made everyone’s breath catch…
Coquitlam would have their chances following the wonderful saves, including one odd rush where Kasper Walther-Sneve nearly ended the night but put the puck over top of the net with Valdimir Nikitin sliding across in desperation. Nothing was solved with overtime so the Express and Chiefs went to the shootout.
In the skills competition it came down to the final round. Manji had already stopped two Chiefs including one with another flashy glove save and then Grady Lenton stepped up to kick off the third set of shooters.
Top to bottom the Express played a solid game this evening. Credit where it is due to the Chilliwack Chiefs, they were excellent as well. The best part of this entire experience? It goes again tomorrow night at the Colisseum in Chilliwack.
The Express are now 6-0 dating back to last season’s Moms’ and Dads’ weekends. We shall soon see if the power of the parents can will the Express to another tough win.
FORTIS BC ENERGY PLAYER – Michael Adamek
MARINER BREWING 3 STARS
3rd – COQ – Grady Lenton – Shootout Winner
2nd – COQ – Joseph Odyniec – Shorthanded Goal
1st – COQ – Adam Manji – 39 Saves and Stopped 3/3 in Shootout
– Ian Wilson