The Bunraby Express did their part Sunday afternoon to support the Canadian Breast Cancer foundation. During the game vs. the Victoria Grizzlies, the Express players taped their sticks with pink tape.
Regardless of what color the Express tape on their sticks, their effort was much improved as they knocked off the Grizzlies 4-1 on Sunday. The win was just the 2nd win for Burnaby in 12 games in the month of October.
The Express showed early that they were ready to play and showed lots of jump in the opening minutes of the game getting off to a good start. The Express were more physical, skating harder and overall just taking their intentisty to another level.
Penalties however halted Burnaby's strong start as they were shorthaded three times in the opening period. The Express penalty killing stepped up killing off all 3 Victoria powerplays in the opening period.
The most notable performance during the penalty kills for Burnaby was the play of goaltender Harrison May.
He was on top of his game in the opening period keeping Victoria off the board.
The Express number 1 goaltender had played well in each of his previous two outings on home ice. But, he was the 2nd best goaltender on the ice. That was one area that had to change for the Express to get back in the win column. May needed a performance where he was the best goaltender on the ice after being out played by Langley's Andrew Walsh and Surrey's Vinny Lessard in the Express last two home games.
It was a tough task to ask of the Express netminder. But it had to be the case with the Express being blanked in their previous 5 periods of hockey heading into Sunday.
Burnaby needed a performance from their goaltender that would at most see just one goal allowed in order to have a chance to win.
May's performance in the opening period showed he was ready to meet the challenge.
After kiling all 3 first period Victoria powerplays, (mainly thanks to May) the Express resumed their pressure on Victoria in the Grizzlies zone.
The game was scoreless after 20 periods. The goalless drought had extended to 6 periods or the equilvalant of 2 games going back to Thursday's 8-1 loss in Langley for Burnaby.
Finally the Express found the back of the net again in the 2nd period when Alex Petan fed a pass back to Simon Denis who blasted home his first goal of the season through the legs of Colin Fernandes.
Hear Denis' 1-0 goal here.
The Burnaby goal was their first goal in 1:26:25 of game action dating back to Garrick Perry's goal at 18:32 of the first period Thursday in Langley.
Petan's assist on the goal was his first BCHL point. And the goal for Denis was his first of the season and just the 3rd goal this season from an Express defenceman. David Dotan and Matt Ridley have the others.
Now with the Express in the lead, they picked up their game in an attempt to add to their advantage. The Express had numerous quality chances but couldn't get another puck past Fernandes who was doing his part to keep Victoria in the game. The Express chances included a shot from Rich Manley that rang off the crossbar.
The Express also had a total of 5 powerplays in the second period but couldn't score on any of them and the Grizzlies remained just one goal down. The Express powerplay struggles continued on this day.
The Express were 0 for 22 on the powerplay in their previous 4 games heading into Sunday's matchup with Victoria.
The question at that point raised was, would the Burnaby's inability to convert on any of those powerplays come back and hurt the Express?
Thanks to those powerplays for Burnaby, they outshot Victoria 12-2 in the 2nd period. And much like Harrison May's play in the first period, Colin Fernades' play in the 2nd period kept Victoria in the game.
The Grizzlies pulled even at 6:13 of the third period on a powerplay. Jordan Heywood pinched in from the blueline and took a centering pass and snapped it past Harrison May.
The tie however only lasted 13 seconds as Garrick Perry took a stretch pass, cut to the Grizzlies net and jammed the puck under Fernandes to re-store Burnaby's lead.
Hear Perry's game winning goal here.
The Express got some insurance less than 6 minutes later on a pretty passing play. Matt Ridley hit Jon Puskar with a pass at the Victoria blueline. Puskar then quickly tipped it into the middle of the ice to spring Brad Reid on a breakaway. And Reid made no mistake deking to the backhand and roofing it over a sparawled out Fernandes to give the Express a 3-1 lead.
Hear Reid's 3-1 goal here.
Reid then rounded out the scoring by hitting the empty net scoring from his own zone for Reid's second of the game giving Burnaby a 4-1 lead.
Overall, it was a drastically improved performance for the Express. Dave Mclellan's troops had played well in each of their previous 2 home games but didn't get the result they wanted. The Express took their compete level up another notch and the were paid off with the win and the 2 points in the standings.
All 18 Express skaters were better. They were more physical, resulting in more battles for the puck won. They skated harder resulting in more races to the puck won. And more often that not, the Express were first on the puck in all 3 zones.
That compete level allowed Burnaby to get the puck out of their zone on a regular basis. At the other end of the rink, the won puck battles allowed Burnaby to get to the puck to the net more often creating more scoring chances.
Harrison May on this day was outstanding. The Express needed their goaltender to be the best goaltender on the ice and he provided that type of performance stopping 27 of the 28 shots he faced.
The most important thing to remember for this Express team following Sunday's win is to remember the compete level they brought to the rink Sunday and they have to do it every night they hit the ice. If they do that, the wins will come again on regular basis like they did in September.
3. Simon Denis - Scored his first goal of the season to open the scoring and added an assist.
2. Garrick Perry - Scored the game winning goal. Added an assist as well. Overall, he was one of Burnaby's best skaters and showed great leadership being a physical force and playing with an edge.
1. Harrison May - Was the best goaltender on the ice. His stellar played allowed his team to stay in the game and give them an opportunity to win.
Friday in Penticton. The Express will need a effort level similar to Sunday's game vs. Victoria to have a shot at the high flying Vees. Burnaby has risen to the challenge each time they have played vs. the BCHL's elite.
Penticton will be without number 1 goaltender Sean Bonar and defenceman Joey Laleggia who will represent Canada West in the upcoming World Junior A Challenge in Summerside PEI. The Vees will also be without forward Beau Bennett who will play for the defending gold medalists from the USA. Bennett currently sits 3rd in BCHL scoring.