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Express Down Eagles, Spoil Home Opener

by Eddie Gregory

The Coquitlam Express got the 2018-19 season off on the right foot with a 4-2 win over the Surrey Eagles. Click here for boxscore

This game had extra attention attached to it following the trade that saw the Express acquire Chase Danol from Surrey with Eric Linell going the other way. And both guys left their mark on the scoresheet.

The Express wasted next to no time getting their attack going. Right off the opening face-off the Express dumped it into the Surrey zone where netminder Seth Eisele came out to play the puck, only to have trouble handling it and Josh Wildauer scored on a loose puck just 12 seconds into the game.

Dallas Farrell came close to extending the Express lead to 2-0 on a crafty give and go play with Regan Kimens but was denied by Eisle who had begun to settle into the game.

Surrey’s best chance of the opening period came late in the first period on a feed to Aaron White who got a half step behind the Express defence and cut to the backhand and slid the puck wide of the net by Clay Stevenson. The Eagles game operations staff were a little quick on the trigger with a pre-mature blast of the goal horn.

Early in the second the two pieces involved in the trade left their mark on the scoresheet.

First it was Eric Linell racing in on a two on one and beating Clay Stevenson with a wrist shot from the right wing past the stick of the Express goaltender to briefly even the game at 1.

56 seconds later Chase Danol who came to the Express in that trade responded by powering the puck to the net and jamming home his first Express goal to restore the Express lead at 2-1.

Jason Chu evened the game at 2 for Surrey scoring from pretty much the exact same spot of the ice that Linell did with a shot from the right wing that also beat Stevenson to the stick side.

Christian Sanda came close to putting the Express in the lead for a third time in the game with a shot from the right wing on a two on one break but clanged it off the goal post.

Friday’s game marked the Express debuts of Juliano Santalucia and Kabir Gill on the blueline after they were signed by the Express earlier in the week.

Gill was the captain of the Valley West Hawks last season. He found himself on the ice on a late second period powerplay and took a pass from behind the net by Josh Wildauer and snapped home his first BCHL goal through the legs of Eisle for the third Express lead of the night at 3-2. Josh Wildauer finished with 1 goal and 1 assist.

The Express locked the game down in the third period. Josh Wildauer came close to giving the Express some insurance cutting to the net and putting his shot off the post.

Both teams played with a good amount of animosity towards each other through the night. Dallas Farrell wasn’t afraid to get in the face of Eric Linell and try to get under his skin.

At the other end Clay Stevenson was rock solid. He finished with 32 saves to post the victory in the Express crease.

With Eisle on the bench with just over two minutes to play, the Eagles won a draw in the Express zone, but the Express found a way with the help of Josh Bruce to poke the puck out of the zone and get it to Christian Sanda who took it down the ice and hit the empty net to seal the 4-2 win for the Express.

The shots finished 34-26 in favour of Surrey. The Express were a perfect 6 for 6 on the penalty kill and 1 for 7 on the powerplay.

They will visit the Langley Rivermen in their second game of the season Saturday night.