by Eddie Gregory
Saturday night the Express were without 8 regulars due to various aliments and had 5 affiliate players in the lineup and they helped play a role in the Express 8-4 win over the Surrey Eagles. Click here for boxscore
Jackson Mainse and Jason Lin dressed on the backend while Nick Amsler, Dante Ballarin and Logan Kurki played up front. Head Coach Jason Fortier had all 5 AP’s in the Express starting lineup. By the end of the night they all had a hand in the Express win.
It was the veterans getting things rolling for the Express. Pito Walton zipped a pass into the corner for Josh Wildauer who quickly set up Christian Sanda in the slot who scored on the powerplay for a 1-0 lead just 2:10 into the game.
Saturday was Surrey’s teddy bear toss game. The locals tossed their stuffed animals on the ice at 6:10 on a powerplay goal from Jeremy Smith who pounced on a loose puck blasting a shot past Kolby Matthews.
That goal sparked some early momentum for the Eagles. 1:10 later Matthew McKim took advantage of a defensive zone turnover then snapped a shot off the cheater of Matthews glove and in for a 2-1 Eagles lead.
Max Mohagen capped off three Eagles goals in 4:22 tipping a Jeremy Smith snapshot for a 3-1 Eagles lead at 10:38.
After allowing three goals in the first 11 minutes Kolby Matthews really dialled into tame a Surrey push as they looked to extend their lead. His best save was a rebound sequence to deny Teddy Prior and Holden Katzalay.
Christian Sanda’s 2nd of the night on the powerplay deflecting a Dallas Farrell wrist shot to cut Surrey’s lead to 3-2 after 1 period.
With 8 regulars out of the Express lineup they needed the remaining veterans and even some younger players raise their game.
That certainly began for the Express in the middle frame. Connor Gregga continued his hot play finishing off a give and go with Josh Wildauer to tie the game at 3 just 2:42 into the period.
Then Gregga returned the favour sliding a pass through to Wildauer who was patient before roofing a shot over Cayden Bailey to give the Express their second lead of the night.
Jason Fortier said pre-game he wanted to see his young players to be relaxed and just play their game. They were showing their poise more and more as the second period progressed.
Jackson Mainse made a good play defensively taking on Justyn Gurney in a one a one defensive situation and Mainse played him very well despite the size mismatch and bumped him off the puck.
Jason Lin looked poised with the puck on his stick as the game went on.
Then up front the AP’s chipped in. Logan Kurki’s shot from the right wing generated a scramble that resulted in Dante Ballarin buring the rebound for his first BCHL goal and a 5-3 lead after three goals in a 7:08 span.
That 5th Express goal chased Cayden Bailey after 5 goals on 21 shots.
In the opening half of the third period the Express quickly salted the game away.
Dallas Farrell ripped a shot from the right wing for a 6-3 Express lead on his 8th of the season.
That was followed up less than two minutes later by Josh Wildauer hustling to the Surrey net and poking at a Danny Pearson dump in that was played a little nonchalantly by Hayden Missler and Wildauer’s poke found the back of the net for Wildauer’s 4th point of the night.
Nick Amsler finished with two assists, he set up Logan Kurki from behind the net for Kurki’s 1st BCHL goal and the 7th unanswered Express goal and a 8-3 lead.
Brandon Santa Juana capped off the scoring with a late powerplay goal to make it a 8-4 game. Both teams finished 2 for 5 on the powerplay. That would be the lone blemish on Kolby Matthews after he had a very strong finish to the game after three goals allowed in the first 10 minutes. Matthews finished with 37 saves.
The Express have an early week visit Tuesday night in West Kelowna.