by Eddie Gregory
The shorthanded Express made the trek through the snowy conditions of the Coquihalla highway for a Tuesday meeting in West Kelowna. When it was said and done the Warriors prevailed by a 4-2 score. Click here for boxscore
Similar to Saturday in Surrey the Express were without 7 regulars and dressed 5 AP’s. Despite the roster short on regulars, the Express played hard against the Warriors.
Jared Power was called for a pair of penalties in just over the first 6 minutes of the game. On the second Warriors powerplay Chase Dubois put a pass on the tee for Mike Hardman who scored on a one timer from a tight angle beating Clay Stevenson on the glove side.
That goal sparked a back and forth first period between the two teams.
Connor Gregga continued his hot play Tuesday night in West K., 27 seconds after the Hardman goal, Gregga took a pass in the slot from Dallas Farrell and he ripped home a shot past Connor Hopkins to tie the game at 1.
Just 1:51 later two quick Warriors passes sprung Lucas Cullen who got a half step in behind the Express defence and slid a shot through the pads of Stevenson for the Warriors second lead of the night.
Again Connor Gregga had an answer for the Express. This time it came late on a powerplay taking a cross ice pass from Jared Power and ripping a one timer for his 13th goal of the season. The assist was the first point in an Express uniform for Jared Power. For Gregga it was his 7th goal and 11th point in his last 8 games.
The Warriors had an edge in play in the opening half of the second period. Clay Stevenson made a number of saves to preserve the tie for a while.
West K. broke through 8 minutes into the second period off the rush on a goal by Brandon Dent going hard to the net and right from the edge of the crease tipping home a pass from Mason Richey for the Warriors third lead of the night at 3-2.
In the latter half off the frame the Express had chances for the equalizer including a two on one shorthanded chance for Chase Danol who put his shot right into the crest of Connor Hopkins. Then late in the period Jared Power got in tight on Hopkins and looked to tuck the puck around the goaltender who found a way to reach back and keep the puck out and carry the Warriors lead to the third period.
Mike Hardman has had a great season in West Kelowna this year. He pulled into a tie for the league lead in goals at 2:36 of the third period banging home the rebound of a shot by Auston Chorney off the end boards for Hardman’s 24th goal of the season. The goal ties him in that category with Ryan Brushett of the Powell River Kings.
Connor Hopkins shut the door in the final 40 minutes for the Warriors making 22 saves during that time. That included shutting down a pair of third period Express powerplays. The Express were 1 for 6 on the night.
The Warriors outshot the Express 38-34.
The Express return home Friday playing host to the Chilliwack Chiefs. Then host Powell River on Sunday afternoon.