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Express Win First Shootout in Coquitlam

by Eddie Gregory  |

The Express scored on all three of their shootout attempts as they defeated Prince George 4-3 to stay undefeated in 10 games at the Poirier Sports and Leisure complex. Click here for boxscore

It took a few minutes for the Express to find their pace, but once they got going, the offence quickly followed.

Massimo Rizzo was really noticeable all night with his quickness. He teamed up with Danny Pearson for a good shift in the Spruce Kings zone. Eventually the puck ended up in the slot where Connor Gregga pounced on it to open the scoring. It was the 20th time in 22 games that the Express have scored first.

11 minutes later the powerplay expanded the Express lead. The collective puck and body movement on the powerplay was looking really dangerous for the Express. Then the puck got back to Noah De La Durantaye who showed great poise to hold onto the puck until he found the right moment to unleash his 5th powerplay goal of the season for 2-0 Express lead after one. Danny Pearson assisted on both first period Express goals.

Danny Pearson & Noah De La Durantaye
Danny Pearson & Noah De La Durantaye – Photo courtesy Garrett James

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Prince George cut the lead in half in the opening minute of the second period on a rebound goal from Preston Brodziak sliding a shot past Jack Watson.

The visitors proved to be a pesky opponent on this night. Defenceman Evan Orr pounced on a loose puck chipping it over Jack Watson to tie the game at two 3:30 into the third period.

The Express entered the game tied with Nanaimo for the top ranking penalty killing unit in the league. They earned their money midway through the third period killing off a mid period interference penalty to Steven Bellini. Prince George finished the night 0 for 4 on the powerplay.

Josh Wildauer showed crafty hands to deflect a Drew Cooper point shot to put the Express in a 3-2 lead with just 2:23 to play in the third period.

That goal didn’t dissuade the Spruce Kings who forced overtime in a rebound goal by Chong Min Lee following a won face-off in the Express zone with just 11 seconds to go.

The early portion of overtime was the closest either side would come to deciding it in 3 on 3. Massimo Rizzo was stopped after driving hard to the net on the rush. Josh Wildauer had the puck cleared away from the goal crease by Chong Min Lee after Wildauer cut in from the left wing.

Preston Brodziak snapped a shot past the glove of Watson but it rang off the post and stayed out.

So the Express went to a shootout for the first time this season. Connor Gregga on the first attempt got the Express off on the right foot snapping a shot over the stick side shoulder of Jett Alexander.

By the time Thomas Richter made his way to centre ice for Prince George in round two he needed to score to keep the game going after Massimo Rizzo scored on his attempt. Richter did exactly that with a quick fake then a shot over the right shoulder of Jack Watson.

That set the stage for Greg Lapointe in the third round and he made no mistake winning the game for the Express snapping shot through the pads of Jett Alexander.

This weekend the Express will hit the Island with games scheduled for Alberni Valley, Cowichan Valley and Powell River Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday’s game in Alberni Valley right now is in question after the Alberni Valley Multiplex was closed Wednesday after a low level ammonia leak was detected last Sunday. More information was expected Thursday about the status of Friday’s game.