It was 5 1/2 years between home games for the Express at the Coquitlam Sports Centre. And last night the Express made it a memorable night with a 4-2 win over the Surrey Eagles on this historic occasion.
It didn't take long for the Express to give the home fans, some new faithful and some old faces from the first go round in Coquitlam something to cheer about.
Just 4 and a half minutes into the game Garrick Perry drove the puck hard to the net. And former Eagle Jason Grecica was there to bang home the loose puck for his first goal of the season to open the scoring.
Then just 3 and a half minutes later the Express struck again. Destry Straight did some nice work to bounce off a check along the boards. Then put a pass on the tape of Brad Reid who slid home his 4th goal of the season to give the Express a 2-0 lead.
The game marked the Express debut of Matt Mazzarolo who was acquired from the Surrey Eagles earlier this week.
The veteran defenceman got involved in the game physically early getting re-acquainted with his old mates. Including exchanging hits with Mike Krgovich.
Coquitlam went to the dressing room after 20 minutes with their 2 goal advantage.
Two of the biggest keys for the Express to be successful was to stay disciplined and shut down their top line of Richard Vanderhoek, Bradley McGowan and Jeff Vanderlugt.
Vanderhoek entered the game leading the BCHL in scoring with 16 points. And McGowan and Vanderlugt were right there with him among the top scorers in the league.
That line has done almost all of the scoring for the Eagles in this young season. Most of that damage was done on the powerplay which went 14/26 53.84% in their 3 game sweep of a Island road trip last weekend.
Surrey got their chance to get back into the game early in the second period with a powerplay. And they took advantage with Mitch Jones sending a nice pass down low to McGowan who quickly slid it across to Vanderlugt to buried the feed to get the Eagles on the board.
The Eagles powerplay struck again in the second period with Richard Vanderhoek blasting a shot past Khaleed Devji from the high slot to tie the game. And just like that, the Eagles powerplay turned the game around striking on both of their 2nd period powerplays.
With a 2 goal lead erased entering the third period, the Express didn't show any signs of being rattled. They stuck to their game plan and worked on just continuing their attack.
This young season so far, the Express have shown that their best period is the third. That trend continued Friday night.
Alex Petan, who missed the last 2 games with an illness broke the deadlock 5:21 into the third as he picked off a Eric Cooper pass in the high slot and wired a wrist shot past Andrew Hunt for his second goal of the season.
Now that the Express had the lead again, it was time to shut it down. They calmly stayed composed and executed the game plan. Trying to keep the puck 200 feet away from their own net as much as possible. When defending, protect the middle of the ice, block shots and keep the Eagle skaters to the outside.
Surrey had their chances in the third period with a pair of power plays. But when it mattered most, the Express PK rose to the challenge and kept the Eagles off the scoresheet. Much like last weekend in Prince George with Express killing off a key penalty to Riley Mcintosh.
Garrick Perry iced the win for the Express when he took advantage of another Eagles in zone gaffe intercepting a cross ice pass then diving and poking the loose puck into the empty net to seal the win.
The win for the Express is their biggest to date this young season. It was a test to truly see what this team is made of against one of the league's better teams this young season. They rose to the challenge and conquered it.
5 on 5 is when the Express were at their best. They limited the quality scoring chances against. The Eagles top line didn't have a lot of great chances. And it was on the powerplay where they did their damage. The Express limited the Eagles to just 26 shots. Goaltender Khaleed Devji turned 24 of them aside to pick up his second win.
The 26 shots allowed was the first time this season the Express were able to allow fewer than 30 shots on goal. The Express fired 34 shots the way of Eagles cage.
Quietly the Express have managed 34 shots on goal in 4 of their first 5 games this season.
The Express are right back at it Saturday night when the 1-5 Merritt Centennials come to town. Then the Express have a re-match with the Surrey Eagles Sunday afternoon at 4.