Friday, February 21, 2014


In one final meeting before they meet in the playoffs, the Prince George Spruce Kings knocked off the Coquitlam Express by a score of 3-2.

It was a tight evenly played game. And if this game and some of the recent match ups are any indication, the up coming playoff matchup could be a very close one.

The first ever Prince George, Coquitlam playoff date was officially set when Langley clinched first place in the Mainland division by knocking off Chilliwack 8-5.

The visitors got the jump on the Express midway through the first period when Stephen Penner's point shot got past a screened Pierce Dushenko.

Another screened point shot this time on the power play found the back of the net 4 minutes later when Brent Lashuk re-directed a Bryant Christian shot for a 2-0 Spruce Kings lead.

The Express had their chances in the first period they couldn't convert on including a Corey Mackin breakaway.

Bo Pieper put the Express on the board when he banged on the rebound of a Ryan Rosenthal shot on the power play at 14:42.

Moments later Braiden Epp cut to the net from the right wing. His shot was stopped by an athletic save by Pierce Dushenko, but the collision left the Express net minder clearly shaken up. He decided to finish the second period after a delay to try and shake off the hit.

Prince George added to their lead in the final minute of the second period. Chad Staley converted a drop pass from Jeremiah Leudtke and snapped a shot over the glove of the Express net minder. It's hard to tell if the collision had an impact on the goal.

When the horn went to end the second period, it was clear the Express net minder was still feeling the effects of the hit when he talked to his teammates on the ice and Erin Berkowski on the Express bench.

Gordie Defiel came out for the start of the third period between the pipes for the Express.

Marc Biega pulled the Express within one 6 minutes into the period when his slap shot changed directions and got past Alex Murray. The goal for Biega was his 16th of the season which ties him with Brad Hunt for most goals in a season by an Express defenceman originally set in 2007-08.

The Express pressed hard in the third looking for the equalizer. But Alex Murray was very solid in the Prince George crease turning aside 32 of 34 Express shots sent his way. His best save came with less than 4 minutes remaining in the third period to deny Bo Pieper who was set up on back door pass  but Murray came to his left and stretched out the pad to protect the lead.

Ryan Rosenthal had one final chance for the Express to equalize in the final 10 seconds he had the puck bounce over his stick on a 6 on 4 power play. The Express finished 1 for 7 with the man advantage.

This game tonight I don't think one way or the other gave any indication of how the upcoming Express and Spruce Kings series will go. If anything, be prepared for an evenly played and possibly 6 game or more series.

When the Express have all their regulars in their lineup, they were missing 5 tonight, we will get a better indication of how they matchup with Prince George.

The Express have two games left in their season next weekend with a home and home with the Chilliwack Chiefs.

The playoffs will begin Tuesday March 4th in Prince George.

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