by Eddie Gregory |
A strong 29 save effort from Clay Stevenson and effective special teams was the difference as the Express improved to 12-0 at home with a 2-1 win over the Vernon Vipers. Click here for boxscore
A low scoring game was to be expected when those two stingy teams went head to head. And it played out as expected.
The Express quickness set the early pace which led to first period powerplays. A theme on those powerplays was keeping the puck moving. Josh Wildauer opening the scoring converting a cross ice pass from Greg Lapointe for Wildauer’s 7th of the season.
On their third powerplay of the frame some deceptive puck movement between Steven Bellini in the slot, and Will Margel and Massimo Rizzo trading places at the right wall and goal line kept Vernon guessing as they just repeatedly moved the puck back and forth among themselves. Then when the time was right the puck was fired back to Noah De La Durantaye who wired home his 6th powerplay goal of the season for a 2-0 Express lead. The powerplay finished 2 for 5.
The services of defenceman Addison Macey were lost in the first period for a checking from behind penalty and a game misconduct for a hit on Vernon’s Jojo Tanaka-Campbell.
Clay Stevenson really began to shine in the second period. He was seeing the puck very squarely, his legs were making quick reaction saves, all part of a 15 save second period that kept the Express in a 2-0 lead after 2 periods. And by this time the penalty killing had shut down 5 Vernon powerplays. When the night was completed the Express had killed off all 6 man advantages.
Josh Wildauer came close to giving the Express some insurance late in the third period with a shot that clanged off the post behind James Porter and narrowly avoided bouncing in the net off the Vernon goaltender.
In the dying seconds Clay Stevenson was closing in on his 4th shutout of the season and 6th in his Express regular season career which would have set a new all time franchise record. But it wasn’t meant to be as a failed clear and 6 skaters on the ice for Vernon saw Dawson Holt break the shutout with just under 5 seconds left.
The season high 8 game home stand for the Express will resume Wednesday with a marquee matchup as the BCHL leading Express will host the Penticton Vees who trail the Express by one point in the overall league standings after Saturday night’s play.