The schedule and injuries certainly took their toll on the Express. After yesterday's game vs. Powell River, Burnaby played 7 games in a span of 10 days including twice playing 3 games in 3 nights and 4 in 5.
The week opened up with the Express hosting the Langley Chiefs Wednesday night. The Island road trip from the week before had taken a lot out of the Express. Coming out of the road trip, Sam Gemmell, Garrick Perry, Anthony Collins, Max Grassi and Luke Challier joined Brodie Reid and Jacob Verheyden on the injured list.
It would certainly give coach Dave Mclellan headaches trying to patch a lineup together.
The veterans who were still in the lineup were going to have to take on additional responsibilities.
Langley came to town playing their first game after an 11 day break.
The Express took the last meeting of the season when Garrick Perry broke a 1-1 deadlock with 1:32 to go and the Express held on for a 2-1 win.
The Chiefs opened the scoring just over 2 minutes into the game when Jared Chernoff slipped one past Richie Virtanen who was making his third start of the season vs. the Chiefs.
Jordan Soquila tied the game poking home a loose puck in the crease midway through the opening frame. He along side Tim Holloway were expected to take on additional responsibilities offensively with all the injuries.
Burnaby's penalty killing which came into the game, the best in the BCHL at home, came up large late in the first killing off 3 Chiefs power plays including a 2 man advantage. The Express defence made some big plays by twice clearing the puck off the goal line.
Langley would blow the game open when Milos Gordic and Brady Horn scored 18 seconds apart early in the second. Then just over 3 minutes later the Chiefs made it a 4-1 game when Trevor Elias tipped a Jessie Tresierra point shot past Virtanen.
Reid Edmondson cut the lead back down to two when he followed up on a Steve Ceccanase rush and poked the puck from under Andrew Walsh in the net.
The Chiefs netminder played a very good game as the depleted Express played hard against the Chiefs. Walsh who is a typical butterfly goaltender used his size to his advantage. Got his body in good position to stop the initial shot and limit the second chance opportunities.
The back breaking goal came midway through the third period when Derek Grant slipped a shot through the legs of Virtanen to re-store the Chiefs 3 goal lead.
Jordan Soquila and Colton Beck traded goals to round out the scoring.
Final score Chiefs 6 Express 3.
3-Brad Goss (1A)
2-Jordan Soquila (2G)
1-Derek Grant (1G,2A)
The rematch went Friday night at George Preston Recreation Centre. Burnaby got one of their injured bodies back as Garrick Perry returned after missing 3 games following the hit from Nanaimo's Tyler Mah.
Steve Ceccanase got the Express off to the start they wanted when he slipped home his third goal of the season after a Trevor Elias turnover. It appeared to be a good omen for the Express as they had won every game this season when they score first.
The Chiefs had a reply on the power play as Brad Goss banged home a cross crease pass from Brandon Thompson to tie the game.
That's where things stood till early in the 2nd, when Tim Holloway scored his third shorthanded goal of the season to re-store the Express lead. The courageous Holloway pulled into a tie for the league lead in shorthanded goals. He's tied with former Express and current Merritt Centennial Paul Forster in that category.
The Chiefs got a break when they pulled even moments later, Evan Atkinson from his own zone fired the puck down the ice, it just happened to hit Ilya Kravtchouk and that slowed the puck up just enough to allow Brandon Thompson to catch up with it and roof a backhand past Richie Virtanen. If that puck doesn't hit Kravtchouk, the play is an icing and it's still a 2-1 Express lead.
Alex Valenti re-stored the Burnaby lead just 3:01 later as he poked a puck home from a scramble.
Derek Grant pulled the Chiefs even again early in the third as he picked the top corner on Richie Virtanen. And for the second straight meeting between the two teams in this barn they were locked in a tie game in the third. Burnaby's anemic power play got off the schnide as Greg Bay's point shot was tipped home by Reid Edmondson to give the Express the lead for the 4th time in the game.
Hear Hear Edmondson's goal here.
That sets up a dramatic final minute, Derek Grant got a glorious opportunity as he had Virtanen down and out, but the rookie netminder robbed the Chiefs sniper with one of the best saves you'll ever see with the game on the line. Grant had the whole net but Virtanen put the glove down and kept the Express in the lead.
Hear Richie's spectacular save here.
But that save only delayed the inevitable as with 8.8 seconds left and an extra attacker for the Chiefs, Chris Ickert pinched in from his point position and he poked the puck home to send the game to overtime.
Hear Ickert's game tying goal here.
It wouldn't take long for the game to be decided as Colton Beck played hero scoring on a backhand after a broken play to hand the Express a heart breaking 5-4 defeat.
Hear Beck's OT winner here.
The game was another hard fought game for Burnaby. The effort was there. They were even able to keep up with the pace at times which was frantic.
3-Trevor Elias (3A)
2-Gavin Hohl (2A)
1-Chris Ickert (1G,1A)
Saturday saw the Cowichan Valley Capitals make their first visit to Burnaby. From the drop of the puck, the Caps showed early that the Express would need their skating legs early to keep pace.
Defencemen Jimmy Geerin and Zach Currie scored on point shots to open up a 2-0 lead after the first period. The Caps speed gave the Express problems and out shot Burnaby 8-3 in the opening 20 minutes.
The Express started to find their legs in the second, but the Caps added to their lead just moments after a Jimmy Geerin penalty had expired, Spencer Fraipont fired the puck off the glass and found Geerin coming out of the box and he made no mistake on the breakaway finding the five hole on Mike Chan. Communication was a breakdown on the goal when the Express netminder didn't bang his stick on the ice to indicate to his teammates the penalty was expiring.
Gavin Hohl got the Express on the board scoring on a scramble for his first BCHL goal.
The Express got a great opportunity to get back within one when they got a 5 on 3 for 1:20. The Express repeatedly set up Greg Bay for the one timer and create havoc and hope to score on a rebound. But Chris Rawlings held strong and kept the Express at bay. This is an opportunity that was a great example of how the absence of Reid, Grassi and even Collins are truly hurting this team. The Express power play has taken a pure beating since some of their top performers have been out of the lineup.
The Caps blow the game open in the third by adding 3 more goals from Taylor Holst, Alex Gellert and Joey Massingham en route to the 6-1 win.
Cowichan Valley 2/3
3-Chris Rawlings 29 saves
2-Zach Currie (1G,2A)
1-Jimmy Geerin (2G,1A)
Sunday afternoon the Express welcomed the Powell River Kings to the Bill Copeland Sports Centre.
It was the third game in 2 1/2 days for both teams and Burnaby's 4th in 5.
The Kings were looking for a sweep of their 3 game weekend. While the Express were looking to salvage one.
The Express were winless in the first two meetings between the two teams. 0-2-1.
An exhausted Express team were finally able to dress 18 skaters. But 4 of them were AP's and 3 were playing their second game of the day after coach Dave Mclellan brought in 3 players from the Vancouver Northwest Giants who played at 9:30 in the morning at the Burnaby winter club.
Garrick Perry was back on the sidelines after battling strep throat.
Ben Schmidt opened the scoring 6 minutes into the game scoring from his backside in front of the net.
Gavin Hohl scored his second goal in as many games re-directing a Mike Leidl point shot midway through the second to tie the game.
The Express appeared to be holding their own with the Kings. But in the last 5 minutes penalties came back to bite the Express in the butt. Mac Williams was called for cross checking and Eric Vos made the Express pay scoring on a beautiful passing play.
Then in the final 90 seconds, Ryan Green made it a 3-1 game taking a feed from behind the net and putting it home.
More Burnaby penalties followed with Williams again in the box for hooking and then Holloway was ejected for checking from behind giving the Kings a 5 on 3. Kyle Bodie fired a shot from the right circle with 5 seconds left in the second to make the score 4-1 Powell River.
After that, the Express were emotionally spent. The effect of the injuries, 7 games in 10 days, 4 in 5 and 3 in 2 1/2 days left the Express with literally nothing left in the tank. The third period was some awful hockey to watch. The Express were just running down the clock, firing it off the glass and out, and Powell River would just shoot it right back in. It was like watching tennis just going back and forth.
Mark McKamey rounded out the scoring for Powell River.
Final score, Kings 5 Express 1. The loss was Burnaby's 6th in a row and 7th in their last 8 games.
Now the Express get a much deserved break. They don't play again until Saturday when they host the Alberni Valley Bulldogs then travel to Surrey Sunday afternoon. The Express hope to have some of their injured bodies back including Reid and Grassi. That will certainly give this team a huge shot in the arm.