The Express only have 2 wins since the start of November, Both of those "W's" however have come vs. their long time rivals the Langley Chiefs. And both of those wins have come by identical 5-4 scores.
Last night two teams heading in similar directions met up at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre. Both teams riding 5 game losing streaks heading in.
Some of Langley's reasons for their struggles was getting off to bad starts. And the opposition lighting up the Chiefs penalty killing. Heading into Friday's game, the oppostion was 14 for 51 on the powerplay in Langley's last 8 games 27.45%.
The problems would manifest itself for the Chiefs again on this night at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre.
Burnaby found themselves shorthanded in the games opening minute with Jimmy Geerin being sent off for interference just 21 seconds into the game. But it was the Express finding the back of the net.
Rich Manley aggressively forechecking forced a turnover in the Langley zone and stole the puck and fed Brad Reid in the slot who deked and slid the puck past Mark Friesen to open the scoring 90 seconds into the game. The goal was Reid's third shorthanded marker of the season and the 6th shorty of the season for the Express.
Hear Reid's shorthanded goal here.
The Express showed plenty of energy in the games opening 10 minutes buzzing in the Langley zone and opening up an early 9-2 advantage in shots on goal.
Luke Challier nearly extended the Express lead to two as he got behind the Chief defence but was stopped by Friesen on the partial breakaway.
A bad bounce allowed the Chiefs to pull even late in the first period. Josh Meyers cut in the Express zone on the right wing while the Chiefs were on a powerplay and he put the puck towards the net and it went off the skate of Simon Denis handcuffing Harrison May and slid in the net to tie the game.
Langley started the 2nd period on a powerplay with James Bettauer being called for roughing at the 20:00 mark of the first period.
It didn't take long for the Chiefs to take advantage of the powerplay as Colton Beck slid the puck across to Meyers who scored on the 2 on 1 just 7 seconds into the second period to give the Chiefs their first lead of the game.
The Express had a reply on a powerplay of their own just over 4 minutes later as Jimmy Geerin's point shot found its way past Friesen to tie the game with his 2nd of the season.
Hear Geerin's first goal of the game here.
The seasaw battle continued in the second period as a shot from the left wing was kicked out by Harrison May but Mac Roy buried the juicy rebound to restore Langley's lead at 3-2.
The officials played a hand in Langley's 4th goal as a Burnaby clearing attempt hit the linesman who failed to get out of the way. That allowed Colton Beck to turn the play the other way and set up Tim Daly to give Langley a 4-2 lead at 10:19.
A 2 goal disadvantage didn't discourage the Express on this night. Just 2:21 after Daly's tally, Brad Reid cut to the net and jammed home his second of the game on the powerplay to cut the Chiefs lead to one.
Hear Reid's second goal of the game here.
Langley had a great chance to re-store their two goal advantage as Colton Beck was set up at the lip of the crease and somehow couldn't re-direct the pass into the gaping cage instead putting the puck out of play.
The blown opportunity would be just the break that the Express would need.
Moments after Beck's miss, Burnaby tied the game on another powerplay as Jimmy Geerin scored his second of the game firing a shot off the post and in to pull the Express even at 4.
Hear Geerin's 4-4 goal here.
Late in the second, what the officials giveth away, they can also taketh away. The clearing attempt that allowed the Chiefs to score their 4th goal was follwed by a break the other way for the Express, Langley appeared to have a tap into an empty net for what could have been Langley's 5th goal but didn't happen as referee Kam Poirier got in the way of a shot and that was heading in keeping the game even at 4.
After a 6 goal second period, the offence cooled off in the third. Burnaby had their chances to break the deadlock. Garrick Perry was stopped on a 2 on 1 with Brad Reid. Luke Challier rang a shot off the crossbar and it stayed out.
Finally in the final minute the Express broke the deadlock. James Bettauer wired a shot that powered its way through Friesen to give the Express a 5-4 lead with just 19 seconds left.
Burnaby killed the remaning seconds on the clock and held on for the victory. The loss extended Langley's losing streak to 6 games.
The Express got top performances from their best players. Brad Reid (2G, 1A) and Rich Manley (3A) each had 3 points. Jimmy Geerin chipped in with a pair of powerplay goals from the blueline. And James Bettauer also had 1 goal and 1 assist from the Express backend.
Special teams was prominent in the Express attack with 3 powerplay goals and a shorthanded marker to open the scoring.
The win combined with Cowichan Valley's 7-3 loss in Powell River, propelled the Express into the 7th and final playoff spot in the Coastal Conference. Burnaby is now 2 points up on the Caps and the two teams will go head to head in a crucial matchup Sunday afternoon at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre.