Coming off of a huge and much-needed shutout victory over the Langley Rivermen on Wednesday night, the Coquitlam Express are back in action as they hit the road to take on the Merritt Centennials! Puck drop is at 7:00pm.
The Express snapped an eight-game losing streak with a real statement victory over the top team in the Coastal Conference – a Rivermen team who had defeated them in their previous three meetings. Connor Mackenzie was the story as he posted his first BCHL shutout, turning away all 33 shots that he faced. The Toronto product has been fantastic as of late, posting a .947 SV% over his last three outings.
The Express have seemingly turned a page over the past week and have played their best hockey over their last few games. They’ve generated over 40 shots in all three of their most recent games and have really controlled play nicely. In the aforementioned victory against the Rivermen, their powerplay found a goal and they only took one penalty – both areas were cause for concern in the early stages of this campaign. They also did a fantastic job at clogging up the neutral zone to stifle the Rivermen’s quick transition game – this group needs to maintain that defensive discipline moving forward.
Tonight, the Express are going head-to-head with the Merritt Centennials who have struggled mightily so far in this 2021-22 season. They are the only pointless team in the BCHL, holding a 0-12 record. This team plays very undisciplined and have been shorthanded a league-leading 62 times this season, averaging 5.1 penalty kills per game. Also of note, the Centennials average 1.6 goals per game and surrender an average of 5.8 goals per game. This game needs to be a building block game for the Express. They need to roll Wednesday night’s momentum into tonight’s outing and beyond. This group is right on the cusp of getting the snowball heading downhill and tonight’s game is the tip of the hill.
The keys to tonight’s game are to capitalize on the inevitable powerplays that the Centennials provide. The Express also need all four of their offensive lines to maintain their strong play – the forecheck has been fantastic as of late and they’re winning the majority of races to loose pucks. Maintain the detail management and victories will follow.
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