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O’Rourke & Widauer Provide Heroics on Teddy Bear Toss Night

by Eddie Gregory  | 

The Express needed 59 minutes and 58.2 seconds to keep their undefeated home ice record in tact. They did off the stick of Josh Widlauer’s powerplay goal with 1.8 seconds to play to give the Express a 4-3 win over Nanaimo. Click here for boxscore

The teams were without a combined 5 players from their rosters who were off to selection camp for Team Canada West and the World Junior A challenge. The Express were missing Massimo Rizzo and Connor Gregga.

Sunday’s game was also the Express annual teddy bear toss. It’s hard to quantify of the absence of two forwards and or the anticipation of the teddy bear toss goal and if it helped play a role in some early nerves in the Express game.

A turnover at the Express line allowed Travis Walton to pounce in the puck and snap a shot past the glove of Jack Watson to open the scoring just 2:23 into the contest.

The Express had to dig deep throughout the game to find their rhythm. It started to come as the first period progressed.

Ethan O’Rourke along with Danny Pearson joined Will Margel’s line to start the game with Rizzo and Gregga in Calgary. O’Rourke made the most of his opportunity today and he got sent the stuffed animals flying by busting down the wing and snapping a shot past the stick of Jordan Naylor to tie the game at 1.

Ethan O’Rourke – Photo courtesy Garrett James
Photo courtesy Garrett James
Photo courtesy Garrett James
Photo courtesy Garrett James

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Cooper Connell came oh so close to giving the Express a 2-1 lead when the puck got behind Naylor and Connell did his best to jam in the bouncing puck lurking in the crease with no luck.

A won battle behind the Express net midway through the second period resulted with the second Clippers lead of the game on a goal from Steve Agriogianis set up by Sean Donaldson.

Again it was Ethan O’Rourke with a key role to help pull the Express even. This time his shot from the right wing was kicked out by Jordan Naylor but Adam Trotman quickly pounced on the rebound to tie the game at two. For Trotman it was his first goal since his two goal effort at the end of October in Nanaimo.

Nanaimo had an answer for an Express tying goal for a third time. Devon Mussio went D to D to Aidan Hansen-Bukata whose seeing eye shot eluded Jack Watson through a screen for a 3-2 Nanaimo lead after two periods.

Sunday’s game was Nanaimo’s 3rd in as many days with stops in Wenatchee and West Kelowna before coming to Coquitlam.

In the opening seconds of the third period a fall by Steven Bellini allowed Travis Walton to walk in and was denied on a key save by Watson to keep the deficit for the Express at one.

Slowy as the third period went along the tide of the game slowly started to turn in the Express favour. They were spending more time in the offensive zone. Forcing Nanaimo into a number of icing calls. And they were content at times to clear the puck out of their zone by any means necessary while holding on to a one goal lead.

Cooper Connell – Photo courtesy Garrett James

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Just shy of the 9 minute mark Brad Ong pulled the Express onto even terms for a third time burying a rebound set up by Nick Carabin and Will Margel. Margel picked up a pair of helpers for the Express.

Then with just over a minute to play and the Express pressing in the Clippers zone, Josh Wildauer was hauled down behind the net with 1:05 to play for just the second Express powerplay of the game.

The powerplay was patient while waiting for their chance to break the deadlock. It finally came in the dying seconds with Wildauer feeding Steven Bellini at the line and then the puck was back on Wildauer’s stick who snapped home the goal that would give the Express their lone lead of the night with 1.8 seconds left on the clock.

The dramatic goal keeps the Express undefeated at home now sitting at 17-0. And it extended their home winning streak to 18 games dating back to game 4 last year vs. Prince George in the first round.

It’s now 7 straight wins for the Express and 14 wins in their last 15 games. The Trail Smoke Eaters will visit the Express Friday night in the 7th game of the season high 8 game home stand.