Danny Pearson’s overtime winner gave the Express a 5-4 come from behind win over the Langley Rivermen opening up a 3-0 Express lead in the Mainland division semi final. Click here for boxscore
The dramatic finish capped off a gutsy come back effort that saw the Express tie the game three times in the third period alone to force overtime.
Langley looking for a change in fortunes went with Bredeon Fleming in goal for his first start of the series. The Express meanwhile got Connor Gregga back after he missed the first two games.
Gregga paid immediate dividends with his return with a toe drag to change the angle of his shot that found the back of the net to open the scoring at 8:45.
Brendan Budy was pointless in the first two games of the series. He put an end to that shortly after Gregga’s goal by taking a Jonathan Stein drop pass and ripping a rocket over the glove of Jack Watson to pull Langley even.
Game 3 had some similarities from game two with the teams being very patient which didn’t result in a lot of shots on goal or scoring chances for either side early on. After 20 minutes the shots were just 6 apiece.
Matthew Hubbarde gave Langley their first lead of the series with a shot from the left wing where he used Wyatt Head as a screen and snapped it past Jack Watson on the short side.
Early in the third period just after an Express powerplay expired, Josh Wildauer swatted a loose puck in front of the net home to pull the Express even at two.
That goal set the stage for a wild back and forth third period.
1:07 later Hubbarde potted his second of the night burying the rebound of a Brian Scoville point shot for a 3-2 Langley lead.
Wldauer pulled the Express even for a second time in the third period. This time his backhand had barely enough steam to slide between the post and Fleming’s stick and cross the goal line to tie the game at 3.
Langley’s response came on the powerplay 34 seconds later after winning the face-off to start the powerplay and Ryan Helliwell fired a seeing eye shot to the net that gave Langley a 4-3 lead.
Now with their third lead of the period the Rivermen played it very conservatively hoping to hold on long enough to get the win. Dumping the puck deep any chance they could. Even at the expense of passing up chances to expand the lead.
As the third period ticked down the Express kept up the pressure looking for the equalizer. Off a face-off with 26 seconds left Greg Lapointe’s quick shot was blockered away by Fleming. Seconds later Lapointe had the puck behind the net and made a great pass to Will Margel in the high slot who used his time wisely to find his spot and beat Fleming low to the glove side with 9.8 seconds left in the third period to tie the game at 4. It was the third goal for the Express in the final frame that pulled them on even terms and sent the game to overtime.
Jack Watson did his part early in overtime turning aside all 3 Langley shots. As the OT progressed the Express started spending more time in the Rivermen zone. Just past the 7 minute mark Massimo Rizzo found Danny Pearson in the slot and he wasted no time bringing this game to an end beating Fleming high over the glove to give the Express the 5-4 win and commanding 3-0 lead in the series.
The Express will be in search of the sweep as the series continues on Wednesday night with game 4 in Langley.