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Grizzlies pour it on late and earn the weekend sweep of the Express

The Express and Grizzlies left it all out on the ice for the final game of the regular season. This contest was as close as can be through 57 minutes before Victoria finally broke through. A 1-0 game with both goalies facing north of 35 shots quickly became a 4-0 final score when Luc Pelletier scored with a long wrist shot and the momentum was all Grizzlies from there.

Elliot Dutil opened the scoring 1:23 into the game as the former Chilliwack Chief banged home a loose puck off a rebound. An all too familiar sight after the goals Victoria scored yesterday. That would be the last we saw of goalscoring in any way shape or form until the 57-minute mark of this game.

The Express had their chances on the special teams to make amends for the lackluster showing a night ago but ran into similar problems. Credit to the Grizzlies they got down in front of several key drives the Express manufactured during the powerplay, but Coquitlam still need to find ways to get the puck over the goal line. 0-5 today and then the penalty kill surrendered the Luc Pelletier goal to open the floodgates at the end of the contest.

Coquitlam looked good offensively throughout this afternoon once again despite being snakebitten on scoring. They drove play well and forechecked aggressively. Those important board battles continued to be heavily contested and generated key chances in the offensive zone. The Express kept their heads up also and played an unselfish style of game where players didn’t force too much of their own accord and got others involved.

The prime example of this was Coquitlam’s best chance of the opening period. Joseph Odyniec drove deep below the goal line and instead of carrying the puck in front of the net himself he waited for the defence to challenge him and snapped a pass to Kasper Walther-Sneve right down the middle of the zone. The Norwegian let it fly and Owen Bresson had to be sharp with a great sliding stop to deny the equalizer.

Through the second period the accelerator was pressed for Coquitlam as they outshot the Grizzlies 17 to 12 and kept dictating the offensive possession numbers. Some chippy plays started to creep into the game after the whistles with the second game of the back-to-back fueling the animosity. Discipline wise, Coquitlam did very well from start to finish. The only two penalties they took were borderline and were a result of playing hard. Nothing was in the uncalled for and/or undisciplined variety. With how testy the Alberni series is liable to become, that is an excellent sign for the Express.

The three goals in a 1:20 to end the third period were scored by Luc Pelletier, Ryan Watt and Chase Pirtle. It was a bit jarring to see Victoria find their offence that quickly in succession with how the rest of the game had gone. It was as if the wind left the sails after the 2-0 goal went in and the writing was on the wall thereafter.

There were still plenty of highlights to the day overall. A good crowd was on hand at the Poirier for Fan Appreciation Day and prior to puck drop the 20-year-olds were honored for their commitment to Junior Hockey and the Express. Michael Rubin, Cole Melady, Luke Vardy, Jacob Bonkowski, Oliver Gabrielson and Adam Manji all have seen their final Junior regular season come and go, but there is still plenty of work left to do as the playoffs begin.

It was also the Express awards ceremony after the game, so the fans got to stick around and watch as the boys accepted the team awards from the season. They went as follows:

Top Scorer – Drew Garzone

Unsung Hero – James Shannon

Rookie of the Year – Joseph Odyniec

Most Improved – Sam Frandina

Community Involvement – Adam Manji

Most Dedicated – Eric Young

Hard Hat Award – Luke Vardy

Top Forward – Jake Manfre

Most Outstanding D-man – Michael Rubin

Most Popular Player – Cale Colwell

MVP – Drew Garzone

Another incredible campaign has come to a close as the Express made many key memories, learned and grew as a group, and set the stage for a solid playoff push. The real work begins now as the coaches, training staff and players dial in for the postseason push.



3rd – VIC – Luc Pelletier – 1 Goal

2nd – VIC – Chase Pirtle – 1 Goal 2 Assists

1st – VIC – Owen Bresson – 38 Save Shutout


– Ian Wilson