The Coquitlam Express are coming off of a big overtime victory last night in Merritt and are looking to extend their winning streak to three games with another road victory tonight over the Prince George Spruce Kings! Puck drop is at 7:00pm.
The Express’ aforementioned victory last night was a major victory for this group, as they battled back from multiple deficits to topple the Centennials in overtime – they trailed after both the first and second periods, and also found themselves down by a pair of goals for a large portion of the third frame. Their penalty killing came up big for them, as they scored three shorthanded goals and also killed off a massive five-minute powerplay that featured stints of both 4-on-3 and 5-on-3. In fact, the Express were shorthanded for five of the final six minutes of the hockey game.
The Express found scoring throughout their lineup and it was Jayden Sison leading the charge, as he chalked up a hat trick that included two shorthanded tallies. Additionally, the duo of Kahlil Fontana and Ryan Tattle continued to be a handful for the opposition’s defenders – they combined for six points last night as Tattle chipped in four helpers and Fontana added a goal and an assist of his own. This duo plays a very fast and in-your-face style of play that is resulting in plenty of scoring chances of the rush, while also providing a very productive forecheck that is yielding a lot of offensive zone time.
Tonight, the Express are set to play a Spruce Kings team that currently resides at fourth in the BCHL’s Interior Conference – they are owners of a 9-5 record and are coming off of a 3-2 shootout victory over the Vernon Vipers last night. The Spruce Kings are currently the highest-scoring team in the league with 56 goals already in the 2021-22 season. This is largely due to the fact that they roster three of the four top scorers in the BCHL, including the two players currently tied for the lead – John Herrington and Nick Rheaume sit at 21 points each while Simon Labelle trails them slightly with 18 points. Rheaume and Labelle play the wings of the Spruce Kings’ top line and Herrington centers the second line, so they have multiple lines that can generate a lot of offence. This really shines through on their powerplay that is arguably the best in the BCHL and currently operating at 35.5% (.1% off of the league lead) – this group draws the most penalties in the league and has had 62 looks on the powerplay.
Staying out of the box will be absolutely critical in tonight’s contest because this Spruce Kings team can take over hockey games with their special teams play. The Express will be without the services of Shane Lavelle, Darren Beattie, and Alek Sukunda, who are all injured. Additionally, Christian MacDougall will be out of the lineup with a suspension. Connor Mackenzie gets the blue paint tonight and he’ll look to build off of a 3-0 shutout that he posted in his last outing. Making his Express debut tonight will be Prince George product, Zach Leslie, who is an AP for the Express this season.
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