There will be no BCHL playoffs for the Express for the second straight season.
The Express chances of game 61 and beyond were officially dashed Sunday when the Express lost to the Powell River Kings 6-5 in overtime Sunday afternoon combined with Cowichan Valley's 4-3 win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
This weekend on the sunshine coast the Powell River Kings dominated the shots on goal both Saturday and Sunday. But the main reason the Kings didn't blow out the Express each night was the play of Robin Billingham. Saturday night he stood on his head especially in the first period stopping all 19 shots he faced. Many of those saves of the spectacular variety.
Sure the Kings eventually broke Billingham's dam on Saturday getting 6 pucks past him in the 6-2 Kings win. But were it not for Billingham's strong play, the Kings probably would have lit the Express up for double digits.
The unique story line about Saturday's performance was that Billingham played nearly 2 periods of that game with a wrong handed stick. Billingham broke both of his sticks shortly after the second period began, and he had to play the rest of the game with Nick Enegren's stick. Enegren's stick was for a left handed shooting goaltender. And with Billingham catching with his right hand, naturally he had a stick for a right handed shooting goaltender.
The Powell River Kings fired 57 shots the way of Billingham Saturday night and he was amazing stopping 51 shots.
In the rematch Sunday afternoon, the Express and Kings met in Gibsons in what was technically a home game for Burnaby.
The Express got off to a quick start jumping out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Brad Reid and Kulby Kulhanek. Justin Dasilva pulled the Kings back within one blasting a shot past Billingham and Burnaby took their 2-1 lead to the dressing room.
Again, the story in the first period was the play of Robin Billingham. He didn't have to be as spectacular like he was in the opening period Saturday night. But he still was the main reason why the Express took the lead to the room turning aside 11 of the 12 Kings shots.
Billingham didn't have to worry about playing this game with the wrong handed stick. The team made a stop at a local Canadian Tire and bought Billingham some new goal sticks.
Justin Dasilva wired another slap shot past Billingham off a faceoff to pull Powell River even in the second period.
The game didn't remain tied for long as Dylan Herold re-stored the Express lead picking the top corner of Micheal Garteig to give the Express a 3-2 lead.
Sunday's game was a real roller coaster affair between the two clubs. The Kings bounced back with a pair of goals by Ben Schmidt and Andrew Pettitt 5 minutes apart and the Kings took a 4-3 lead to the third period.
Burnaby pulled even with a powerplay goal in the opening minute of the third period. Simon Denis made one of the best back door passes you will ever see right on the tape of Garrick Perry who easily re-directed it past Garteig. The pass from Denis to Perry was a rocket that in fact broke Perry's stick.
Brad Reid restored Burnaby's lead by scoring a tap in with just under 12 minutes remaining in the third period. Reid and Perry are tied for the Express lead with 25 goals apiece.
The back and forth swings continued before the conclusion of the third period. Justin Dasilva fired a wrist shot that was tipped past Billingham by Daniel Carr with 3:46 remaining in the third period.
Powell River had their chances to try and win it before the end of regulation, but Billingham's spectacular play allowed the Express to take the game to overtime.
The extra session didn't last long as Justin Dasilva finished his strong game by picking up his 4th point when he fired the puck up to Chad Niddery who went one on one with Chris Van Duynhoven and Niddery wired a wrist shot over the shoulder of Billingham to give Powell River a 6-5 OT win. With the win, the Kings swept the 6 game season series with the Express.
Robin Billingham only saw 51 shots sent his way Sunday, but played his second straight strong game in the Express crease. His play prevented Powell River from lighting up the Express.
The line of Garrick Perry, Dylan Herold and Kolby Kulhanek lead the Express attack combining for 3 goals and 5 assists for 8 points. Brad Reid's 2 goal performance certainly deserves recognition as well.
Now that the Express fate has been sealed, there's just 4 games left to be played to finish the season. The Express will play their final game in Burnaby Sunday afternoon vs. the Cowichan Valley Capitals. The Express hoped this game would be the biggest of the season for Burnaby. But after what transpired this weekend, it wasn't meant to be. But a hat has to be tipped to the Cowichan Valley Capitals who took care of their own business by going on the road this weekend and winning 3 times.
The Express will wrap up the season in 2 weeks with games in Quesnel, Prince George and Williams Lake.