You can punch the Express' ticket the playoffs! They're in the dance with a 7-4 win over the Surrey Eagles combined with Powell River knocking off Cowichan Valley 7-6 in overtime.
It marks a return to the playoffs for the Express after missing each of the previous two seasons in Burnaby.
Friday the Express never trailed vs. Surrey. They got off to a good start with Riley Mcintosh opening the scoring just 58 seconds into the contest. That goal set off what would be a back and forth game for most of the night.
Surrey quickly countered with Bradley McGowan adding to his BCHL leading point total for the moment when he snapped a quick wrist shot past Khaleed Devji just 1:57 after Riley Mcintosh's goal.
Alex Petan put the Express back in front when he picked up a loose puck and lifted a backhand past Andrew Hunt at 6:34.
Jake Charles finished off a poised play by Austin Carroll to set up Jake Charles who scored just his second goal of the season early in the 2nd period to put the Express up by two. The assist for Carroll was his third point in as many games.
Surrey again had a reply when Riley Sweeney rushed the puck up the ice and snapped a quick shot past Devji.
The Eagles then got themselves into penalty trouble that saw Bradley McGowan get called for interference. In addition, Jeff Vanderlugt was given a double minor for butt ending giving the Express a 5 on 3 for a full two minutes then an additional two minutes at 5 on 4.
Jared Eng and a patient Express powerplay made the Eagles pay as the Express defenceman blasted a powerplay goal in the second of the two penalties assessed to Vanderlugt putting the Express back up by a pair.
Just 51 seconds later it was back to a one goal game when Scott Holm stole the puck in the Express zone and snapped it home.
Surrey's parade to the penalty box resumed when Linden Saip was called for goaltender interference. Again the Express powerplay found pay dirt when Massimo Lamacchia snapped home a cross ice feed for his team leading 32nd goal of the season.
The Express took their 5-3 lead to the third. Surrey again pulled back within a goal when Daniel Gentzler's wrap around attempt went across to Brandon Morley who buried it at 6:28.
With a playoff spot hanging in the balance, Matt Hutchinson came up with a perfect time for his first goal of the season when his point shot bounced off an Eagles player past Andrew Hunt. Hutchinson had a strong game and was determined to not finish the season without a goal as he was firing the puck on a regular basis all night.
That goal gave the Express some much needed breathing room. Massimo Lamacchia finished off his 4 point night when he dropped the puck for Jason Grecica who put it into the empty net to seal the Express' win. Lamacchia finished with 1 goal and 3 assists.
After the game was over, there was still some nail biting left to do as Cowichan had a 4-3 lead by the time the Express game with Surrey came to an end. The finish at the Big Stick was dramatic a one as the Kings took a 5-4 lead before the Caps staved off elimination with Tyler Matheson scoring a powerplay goal with ten seconds left to send the game to overtime to keep the Caps playoff hopes alive for the time being at least.
Matt Garbowsky clinched the Express berth in the playoffs when he scored at 3:09 of the first overtime to give Powell River another dramatic 7-6 overtime win over the Caps. That result assured that Cowichan Valley will not catch the Express in points.
In the final 40 minutes the Express more than doubled the Eagles in shots 30-14 and finished the game out shooting the Eagles 37-23. The powerplay finished 2 for 4. And the team was disciplined taking just two minor penalties all game.
The Express will meet the Surrey Eagles in the first round of the playoffs. It will be the first time the two Lower Mainland clubs will meet in the post season.
Here is the playoff schedule for round 1.
Game 1 - Friday February 25 @ Surrey
Game 2 - Saturday February 26 @ Surrey
Game 3 - Monday February 28 @ Coquitlam
Game 4 - Tuesday March 1 @ Coquitlam
Game 5 - Thursday March 3 @ Surrey *If necessary
Game 6 - Friday March 4 @ Coquitlam *If necessary
Game 7 - Saturday March 5 @ Surrey *If necessary