Saturday night the Express came home to face the Victoria Grizzlies. The Express were coming home after a 3 game northern road swing where they went 2-1. Burnaby would be getting a boost offensively with the return of Brodie Reid. He was playing his first game with the Express since returning home with a silver medal from the World Junior A Challenge in Camrose Alberta.
It was the second meeting of the season between the two teams. Victoria took the first matchup 6-1 on October 11th. That was a game marred by poor officiating and Victoria took advantage of all the penalties handed to the Express by going 4/10 on the power play.
The game was Victoria's second of their 3 game Mainland division road trip. They opened the trip with a 4-2 win over Powell River the night before.
Getting off to a good start and staying out of the box would be key for Burnaby on this night. Victoria had scored first in each of their last 5 games. Outscoring their opposition 10-2 in those 5 games in the first period. Winning 4 of them. The Grizzlies power play was 5/13 in their last 2 games.
Well, Burnaby got off to the start they wanted when Max Grassi teamed up with John Bokla to open the scoring on a beautiful give and go play. Bokla was on the business end for his 5th goal of the season.
Hear Bokla's goal here.
Victoria had a reply less than a minute and a half later when Evan Pighin took a feed from Cam Reid behind Burnaby's net and Pighin made no mistake putting home his 14th of the season. The goal was very remniscent to Victoria's success against Burnaby on the powerplay in the first meeting of the season. So it appeared early, that the Express would have to try and find a way to take that play away from Victoria.
The Grizzlies used the same play later in the period on another powerplay to take the lead for the first time when Dustin Mowrey found Tyler Matheson in front of the net to give Victoria a 2-1 lead.
The Express had a reply before the period was done. Jacob Verheyden, playing in his first game back from an infection knocked down a puck along the half boards in the Victoria zone, he put it in front and Matt Frydresyk would score on the rebound to tie the game. Frydresyk was acquired by Burnaby earlier in the week from the Drumheller Dragons of the AJHL for future considerations.
Hear Frydrysek's first Express goal here.
Frydresyk adds another big body to the Express lineup. He stands 6'3 200 lbs. He played part of the last 2 seasons with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
In the second period, the injury bug would start to bite the Express again. This time the defenceman would take the hit. Captain Mike Leidl and Johnny Mahovlich didn't return for the start of the second period. Both suffering head injuries. Those injuries already followed Colin De Jersey leaving again very wobbly after being hit by Justin Courtnall. It was De Jersey's first game since leaving each of his last 2 games in very similar fashion after hits in back to back games. Let's all hope Colin will be ok.
More penalty trouble would come back to bite the Express. Anthony Collins came to the defence of a teammate after Myles Macrae hit an Express player near their bench and Collins was given a 5 minute major for fighting and a 10 minute misconduct. In the latter portion of the 5 minute major to Collins, Greg Bay joined Collins in the box giving Victoria a 5 on 3. It wouldn't take them long to strike. The Grizzlies again worked it down low, and Derek Lee from the goal line found Justin Courtnall in the slot and he made no mistake sliding it under Richie Virtanen to restore the Victoria lead.
So the Express would need to come from behind in the third period to at least salvage a point out of the game.
Midway through the 3rd period, the Express broke through on a bit of a broken play. Garrick Perry poked the puck past Victoria goaltender Alex Peck. It just crossed the goal line enough from inside the post and came right back out to tie the game at 3.
Both teams had their chances to break the tie, but failed to do so. Off to overtime the teams went.
Victoria scored the winning goal when Jeff Forsythe fed Sean Stuart at the left point and his shot was tipped home by Derek Lee at 3:23 of the first overtime.
Hear Lee's game winning goal here.
Special teams was the difference maker in this hockey game as Victoria went 3/6 on the power play. While playing well with the man advantage, Victoria played a very disciplined game giving Burnaby only 1 power play on this night.
The Victoria power play has torched the Express in the two meetings this season. Victoria's power play is 7/16 vs. the Express this season, 43.75%. You're not going to lose that many games when you power play is playing that well. The next time these two teams meet on December 4th, the Express will have to find a way to take away the play from behind the net for Victoria. That play has burned the Express all season long in the head to head matchups.
3-Alex Peck (25 saves, W)
2-Richie Virtanen (32 saves)
1-Derek Lee (GWG, assist)
This coming week, the Expresss have a pair of divisional games. It begins with the first "big" game of the season when the Express travel to Surrey Friday night. The Eagles have won 8 of their last 10 games and now sit one point up on the Express for third place in the Mainland division. The Eagles have taken the last 2 meetings between the two teams.
Saturday the Express host the division leading Powell River Kings. Burnaby will be looking for their first win of the season vs. Powell River (0-3-1).