by Eddie Gregory
The Express first four goals of the night came on the powerplay and Thomas Wardle made 41 saves in his BCHL debut as the Express opened the 2019-20 season with a 5-2 win over the Langley Rivermen. Click here for boxscore
Wardle got thrust into the starting role on opening night and not once did he show signs of nerves.
The West Vancouver native needed to be ready right from the get go as Langley peppered the Express net often in the first period. He made two good saves off Rivermen forward Joseph Musa in the first period. The second save coming on a one timer off the rush.
At the other end the Express had quality chances from Ryan Tattle and Tyler Schleppe but couldn’t beat Braedon Fleming. The first period finished with Langley outshooting the Express 20-11.
The visitors settled down in the 2nd period. Then began to tilt the ice which led to powerplay opportunities.
On their second man advantage of the night the Express quickly struck by winning the face-off and setting up Drew Cooper for a one timer just seven seconds into the powerplay opening the scoring.
Langley got that one back right away with Kalen Szeto lifting the puck over Wardle to tie the game at 1 just seconds later.
The captain potted his second of the night exactly at the midway mark of the game. Again on the powerplay. This time creeping in back door and converting a cross crease pass from Connor Gregga to put the Express into a 2-1 lead.
The collective movement of the Express powerplay left Langley guessing all night long. And it played a role in the 3rd Express goal of the night. A quick set up and one timer into the slot was stopped by Fleming. But the rebound was buried by Tyler Schleppe for his first Express goal and a 3-1 lead.
Thomas Wardle was less busy in the second period turning aside 10 of the 11 Langley shots in the 2nd period as the Express carried a 3-1 lead into the third.
The powerplay kept rolling into the third period. Adam Trotman was set up in the slot and ripped a shot high bouncing off the end glass right to the side of the Langley net where Danny Pearson jammed in his first of the season for a 4-1 Express lead with every one of their goals coming on the powerplay. For all the attention that the Express powerplay generated, the penalty killing meanwhile shutdown all 6 Rivermen powerplays.
Finally the offence at 5 on 5 for the Express got rolling with Adam Trotman dishing a pass on the right wing to Steven Bellini who slid a pass to Bradley Ong who tapped it past Fleming for a 5-1 Express lead.
Tristan Fraser jammed a puck just across the goal line past Thomas Wardle to round out the scoring with just over 6 minutes remaining in the third period.
Langley did show some signs of frustration as the third period wound down. The Express were smart being able to maintain their focus the rest of the night to close out their first victory of the season.
The shots finished 43-29 in favour of Langley. But they were only 23-18 in favour of Langley in the final 40 minutes.
The Express will play their 2nd game of the season next Friday in Surrey.