After a disappointing run to close out April, the Coquitlam Express are hoping to find much more success in the month of May, starting with a matinee tilt with the Surrey Eagles! Puck drop is 1:00pm.
The Express come into this one following a loss in what was an extremely close hockey game with the Powell River Kings. They played a very strong game and deserved a much better fate. This Express squad has looked hungry as of late and are due for a big victory.
This afternoon, they’ll have their hands full with the high-flying Eagles, who sit comfortably atop the Coquitlam Pod with a 13-2-1 record on the season – they are two points out of first place in the entirety of the BCHL. The Eagles run the most lethal power play in the league, as they execute 35.9% of the time. This is bad news for an Express team who have been penalized the most in the league (191 PIMS).
With that being said, the Express’ penalty killing has been lights out as of late, killing 10/10 in their last two outings. This can be largely attributed to the deployment of Ryan Tattle & Danny Pearson in a penalty-killing role – they bring a lot of energy and play an aggressive style that both the Kings and Eagles power plays couldn’t handle. They even give themselves ample opportunities to find shorthanded markers with their aggressive style, which in turn kills a lot of extra power play time.
If the Express can carry over their effort levels and urgency from their last game, keep the Eagles man advantage in check, and cash in on the few opportunities that the Eagles present, then this team will find that elusive victory here this afternoon.
The Express are expected to run a similar-looking lineup to what we saw in their last game, with the veterans dispersed a little more evenly throughout the lineup. The additions of Sam Marit and the aforementioned Pearson on the third line paid dividends last game, as they were a thorn in the side of the Kings all night and even found a goal. Something to keep an eye on is the promotion of 2004-born William Yee, who now finds himself bumped up to the first defensive pairing. The kid has wheels, a strong first pass, and excellent vision pushing the puck up ice. Additionally, he’s displayed a level of composure that can often be lost amongst younger players. It will be interesting to see him in more of an offensive role this afternoon, and you have to wonder if he’ll even see some time on the power play.
With just four games left this season, the thought of preparations for next season must be starting to creep into the minds of the Express’ coaching staff. With limited practice time, this season can almost be looked at as an evaluation stint for this young and inexperienced club. Expect to see some younger players in more prominent roles down the stretch.
Get off the tracks – a train is coming through!