Friday, February 10, 2012


Taylor Pears had a memorable 58 save performance as the Victoria Grizzlies snapped a 13 game win less streak with 6-5 win over the Express.

It was another depleted bench for the Grizz dressing just 13 skaters. Victoria needed to get a special exemption to bring in former Express Cole Gelley who played in his 3rd game in black and gold.

Victoria's first goal showed what they would do most of the night is try and get the puck and bodies up the ice when they could to generate a scoring chance. They opened the scoring when former Express Stefan Gonzales quickly advanced the puck up ice to Coltyn Hansen who slid it across to Chase Kaiser who finished off the two on one.

Coquitlam responded shortly thereafter on the powerplay as Brady Shaw shovelled the puck to John Siemer who buried it following a Clinton Atkinson point shot.

The Express were only able to muster the one goal in the opening 20 minutes as they couldn't finish some of their chances in combination with the strong play from Pears who faced 19 shots. It was a sign of things to come on this night.

Victoria got into penalty trouble early in the second as defencemen Stefan Gonzales, Cole Gelley and Braxton Bilous were all called for minors in quick succession giving the Express an extended 5 on 3.

The Express were able to strike once with the advantage as Alex Petan snapped home a shot from the slot seconds after he couldn't convert on a pair of glorious scoring chances just before the goal.

The lead only lasted for just under three minutes as Mitchell Smith scored his first goal of the season to pull the scrappy Grizzlies even at two.

John Siemer put the Express back in the lead as he scored on a partial breakaway sliding the puck through the legs of Pears for his second of the night and Express leading 27th of the season.

Friday's game was the fourth straight Friday the two teams have gone head to head. Much like the last time they met in Victoria last week, the Grizzlies scored three quick goals to end the second period. A pair of powerplay goals just 1:13 apart by Alex Holland and Coltyn Hansen put Victoria into a 4-3 lead.

Then in the final minute of the period Mitchell Smith was the beneficiary of a bad bounce for Rajan Sidhu who lost the puck behind the net and the puck came right to Smith who blasted it past a surprised Khaleed Devji to give Victoria a 5-3 lead entering the third.

Cole Huggins came out to start the third for the Express. He was called upon to come up with a number of key saves in the opening minute to keep the deficit at just two for the Express.

Brady Shaw scored moments later to pull the Express back within one. From then on, the Express came with a full on blitz. They sent puck after puck after puck the way of Taylor Pears. And the Victoria goaltender kept on turning the pucks away. Rebound chances were plentiful for the Express throughout the night, but they couldn't finish them off. Malcom McKinney had two great rebound chances in the third period but wasn't able to finish.

As the shot clock creeped towards 60, time began to run out on the Express. Alex Holland put the final dagger into the heart of the Express as he raced after a loose puck in the Express zone and powered it to the net and slid the puck past Huggins for a huge 6th goal for Victoria.

Zach Hodder scored with just under 10 seconds left to pull the Express within one again, but it was too little too late.

When all was said and done, the Express sent 29 shots on Taylor Pears in the third period who had 27 saves in the frame alone. The Express finished with 63 shots and Pears finished the night with a 58 save performance.

The 63 shots for the Express is the second most they've had in game. The record is 66 set on December 16, 2003 vs. Surrey.

Next up for the Express is a pair of games Saturday and Sunday in Powell River.

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