Saturday night the Burnaby Express welcomed the Nanaimo Clippers to the Bill Copeland Sports Centre.
It was another game for the Express to measure themselves up against one of the BCHL's elite.
Nanaimo was playing their third game in three nights and was 2-0 on their mainland division road trip with convincing wins over Langley and Surrey.
The Clips came into the game dominating the season series in recent years. They swept all 4 games last season. And were 10-1 vs. the Express in the last 11 match ups.
Burnaby knew they had to shut down Nanaimo early as they had gotten off to a quick start in each of their two previous games.
The Express opened the scoring off the rush when Max Grassi fed it on the left wing for a streaking Reid Edmondson, who then found Alex Valenti going hard to the net and tipped the pass home.
Burnaby nearly made it 2-0 moments later as Anthony Collins was robbed by Evan Smith on a 2 on 1 break.
That save turned out to be huge as in the final minute, Anders Franzon knocked down a clearing attempt at the blueline then cut into the slot an fired a shot through the legs of Mike Chan for his first BCHL goal to tie the game at one.
This battle between the two teams would be reminiscent of the hard fought battle between the Express and Chiefs a week earlier. Both teams playing a similar grinding, get the puck deep type of game.
Burnaby would re-store their lead in the 2nd after Reid Edmondson's initial shot hit the post, Garrick Perry would be in position to bang home the rebound.
But before the 2nd period was done, the Clippers would tie the game again. Connor Krukowski's point shot would be stopped, but Joe Perry was in position to bang home the rebound to tie the game at 2.
The third period would be another tense affair as the two teams fought hard looking for the go ahead goal.
It would finally come at 13:01, as former Clipper Tim Holloway from behind the net just throw it in front, it hit something and slid home to give the Express their 3rd lead of the game.
The Express would take their lead into the final minute of the period and for the third time in the hockey game, the Clippers would strike.
Just after using their timeout, the Clippers got the puck deep in the Express end. Mike Chan went out to play the puck, he had trouble with it and lost it in his feet, Kurtis Bartliff stole it, walked out front and put it home to tie the game at 3.
So it was off to overtime.
Garrick Perry made a bid for his 4th game winning goal of the season, he fired a shot from the left wing and Sam Gemmel went hard to the net and crashed into the Evan Smith. Gemmel would be called for goaltender interference at 3:02.
This would be a huge test for the Express penalty killing which has been superb. And they would bend, but not break as the Clippers pressed in the Burnaby zone looking for the game winning goal. The Express killed off the penalty and re-grouped for the 2nd overtime.
The Express built off the big kill and put the game to bed.
Max Grassi found a streaking Reid Edmondson on the left wing and his wrist shot got through the legs of Evan Smith for the overtime winner to give the Express the 4-3 win.
Hear Edmondson's OT winner here.
The goal capped off a big night for the hulking centre as he finished with 3 points. (1G,2A)
The win was Burnaby's 5th in their last 6 outings.
3-Connor Krukowski (1A)
2-Max Grassi (2A)
1-Reid Edmondson (1G,2A) *GWG
Sunday, the Express were off to Surrey for an afternoon affair. Burnaby swept the Eagles when the two teams met for 3 straight games earlier in the season. So Burnaby went into the game confident they could beat the Eagles.
Surrey certainly looked like they were prime for the picking. They were riding a 6 game losing streak and had lost 7 of their last 8 games.
The Eagles sent a message right off the opening face off that they weren't going to be pushed around on this night.
Eagle captain and former Express Ilan Cumberbirch dropped the gloves in a tilt with Anthony Collins just 2 seconds into the game.
Burnaby had an opportunity to open the scoring early as they were given a 5 on 3 for 1:30 in the first but weren't able to find the back of the net.
Then it would be the Express getting themselves into penalty trouble. This time their penalty killing couldn't save their bacon. The Express came in having killed off 44 of their last 46 shorthanded situations.
Former Express Spencer Bennett was playing defence for the Eagles took a cross box pass from Tom Janosz to open the scoring.
Burnaby's parade to the penalty box would continue. In the final minute of the period, another former Express struck as Adam Hartley finally found the back of the net on Mike Chan at 19:25 to open up a 2-0 Eagle lead after 20 minutes of play.
The game took a turn for the worse in the second as Garrick Perry drilled Brett Agnew from behind and that would be the end of Perry's night. He was ejected for checking from behind. Coach Dave Mclellan was also ejected after disputing the penalties called against his squad in black and red.
The Eagles didn't take long to strike for the 3rd time in the game on the man advantage as Hartley scored his second of the night from Brennan Strang & Spencer Bennett.
Hard work behind the Express net would result in the Eagles 4th goal of the night as Brennan Strang made no mistake after a centering pass from behind the net. Hartley and Morgan Maclean added the assists.
The longer the game went on, the more it showed the team in white wanted it more. They were just a half step quicker than the Express. They were aggressively pressuring the puck.
Burnaby would find the back of the net in the third on a 5 on 3 power play. Max Grassi fired a wrist shot home from Collins and Valenti.
The goal for Grassi and the assist from Valenti, extended their point streaks. Grassi now has a 8 game point streak (5G,6A) Valenti's streak stands at 7 games (2G,7A).
Chris Santiago, who was having a heck of a hockey game. Especially on the penalty kill. Was rewarded for his hard work he took a centering feed from Mike Henderson to make it a 5-1 Eagle advantage.
The Eagles struck one more time on the man advantage as Tom Janosz scored from the left circle to round out the scoring.
That would bring an end to Mike Chan's night. He allowed 6 goals on 32 shots.
The Express did get 20 shots in the 3rd period to give Tommy Tartaglione some work. But he wasn't overly tested in this hockey game.
Final score, Eagles 6 Express 1.
The loss was disappointing on a number of levels. Especially coming off the huge win the night before vs. the Clippers. Plus, the Express had an opportunity to pull within 2 points of first place in the Mainland division after Powell River lost to Merritt and Langley went 1-2 on the weekend.
Here's my 3 stars in the hockey game.
3-Chris Santiago. He was all over the ice all game long
2-Brennan Strang (1G,2A)
1-Adam Hartley (2G,1A)