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The offence comes alive but the special teams were the difference

The Express found their offence tonight in a wild one versus the Grizzlies but they came up just short in a 5-4 final. The playoff preview weekend is only half over so it’s back to the drawing board then right at it again tomorrow against Victoria to finish off the regular season.

Pregame featured plenty of touching moments as the Express honoured their billet families and welcomed back their former Captain, Ryan Tattle to the Train Station to kick off Score for Cancer Night. Coquitlam also welcomed Danika, a local Cancer survivor who bravely fought and won her battle with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Nine months exactly to the day she has been Cancer free. If that isn’t a shining example of why Score for Cancer and other initiatives like it exist, I don’t know what is.

Once the hunt for the Fred Page Cup begins April 5th, there will be no escaping any given opponent until one side is left standing at the end of a best of seven. Having the Grizzlies in three of their last four games of the campaign gives Coquitlam a unique opportunity to roll with the punches of a tough game and bounce back after assessing the results against the same opponent the next day.

The final product of this game is a mixed bag. The offence finally came to life and looked great out on the ice. They moved the puck well, got to the hard areas and attacked relentlessly. On the flip side of the coin, the special teams were not up to par.

The Express came into tonight with the second-best penalty kill in the league and gave up two powerplay goals, making the Grizzlies a perfect two for two on the game. Those goals both came at pivotal times, to break a 1-1 and 3-3 tie respectively, and forced the Express onto their heels to battle back. Then when it came time for Coquitlam to have their chance with the powerplay, they couldn’t capitalise.

Twice the Express had lengthy 5-on-3 advantages and both times they were stymied by the Grizzlies. Patrick Sexton called a timeout partway through the second 5-on-3 to try and rally the troops and they came close, but no cigar. Scoring needs to come from all facets in the playoffs, and tonight they got depth scoring for 4 out of 5 goals yet couldn’t get a couple extra from the special teams. It should be noted that more than once Jake Manfre absolutely ripped a shot off the post. Hockey will always be a game of inches and what-ifs.

Coquitlam got their offence tonight from two key areas. The net-front damage was done not once but twice by Cale Colwell. The Langley product tallied his first and second career BCHL goals, both tying the game when they were scored. Talking with Jeff Wagner after the game you could see the pride in his eyes when recounting how rewarding it is to see a guy who works as hard as Cale does finally break through. Smash through he did as he got his stick down on the ice and steered some pucks home in amongst the chaos in front of the goal.

The other area Coquitlam thrived from was rushing down the left wing. Joseph Odyniec wired a wrist shot glove side on Oliver Auyeung-Ashton for his 15th of the year and James Shannon unloaded a cannon of a shot on a cross ice feed from Odyniec to make the game 4-4 just over a minute into the third.

Victoria were a problem in front of the net all evening long. Three of their five goals came from rebounds being put away past Adam Manji, often on a second or third chance opportunity as the Express couldn’t find pucks after the initial denial. Anthony Carone, Ryan Watt and Chase Pirtle all tallied this way while Oliver Genest had a wraparound goal to open the scoring and Jacksenn Hungle found a weird one. Hungle’s goal came off an attempted clear to the corner boards went wrong. Instead of the puck carrying around the boards or being trapped in the corner, it came straight back out and Hungle one timed it past Manji for the game winner.

The Express pulled the goalie with just under a minute fifty to go in the third and found some good chances in the offensive zone. They controlled play and defended well to not have the Grizzlies find the empty net. Kudos to the games’ first star Anthony Carone on a key defensive deflection in the final 20 seconds to steer the puck up out of play.

Dictating the offensive flow was a part of the Express’ gameplan tonight and they continually answered what Victoria sent their way. The key difference to hope for tomorrow is if the Express can strike first and play with a lead as opposed to playing catchup. Should they keep the same intensity as they had tonight, good things will happen.



3rd – VIC – Oliver Auyeung Ashton – 42 Saves on 46 Shots

2nd – COQ – Cale Colwell – 2 Goals

1st – VIC – Anthony Carone – 1 Goal 1 Assist


– Ian Wilson