Saturday, March 8, 2014


The BCHL's most dangerous team shorthanded team in the regular season have now translated that success in the playoffs in a 6-3 win over the Prince George Spruce Kings in game 4 of the Mainland division semi final.

The Express scored 3 shorthanded goals with captain Ryan Rosenthal scoring a pair of them all part of a 3 goal night for the 20 year old forward.

This was the highest scoring game of the series so far.

The Express captain entered game 4 still seeking his first point of the series. But there was a sense that it was only a matter of time before Rosenthal took his team on his back and led them to victory.

He got his big night started when Cody Boyd fed the Express captain going to the net and he had the puck bounce off him and past Alex Murray for his first shorthanded marker of the night.

Justin Rai evened up the proceedings 3 minutes later when he got in behind the Express defense and scored on a breakaway with a shot over the shoulder of Gordie Defiel.

One area that has separated the Express from Prince George in the last three games has been their depth.

Zach Hodder became the Express 7th skater to score a goal in this series when he pinched in and took a cross crease pass from Corey Mackin and smacked it home to re-store the Express lead.

Gordie Defiel who turned aside 25 Prince George shots for his third straight victory made a key stop off Justin Rai late in the frame to keep the Express in the lead.

Ryan Rosenthal was really proving to be a load that the Spruce Kings just couldn't handle on this night. His speed and power down the wing made him nearly unstoppable. He was his most dangerous with the Express shorthanded.

He scored his second shorthanded goal of the night 4 minutes into the second period for a 3-1 Express lead.

From that point Rosenthal's confidence was at a real high. He continued to follow up with more chances to try and complete his hat-trick with his team a man down.

Jeremiah Luedtke scored the first power play goal for either team in the series on the same power play that saw Rosenthal scored his second of the night to cut the Express lead to 3-2.

Knowing they were in the position of being put on the brink of elimination the Spruce Kings battled hard to try and get back in the game.

This game was decided tonight in the final 30 seconds of the second period when the Spruce Kings appeared to be in position to have the game hanging in the balance entering the third period.

The Express had a chance up the ice and Alex Murray came up with a key stop and the Spruce Kings went the other way. Jeremiah Leudtke was stopped at the other end on a breakaway by Defiel. Leudtke didn't give up on the play and set up Justin Rai for his second of the night with just 21 seconds remaining in the second period and it appeared the game was all square going to the third period.

But the Express had other plans. In the dying seconds of the period Joey Santucci threw it at the net and Jace Hennig scored his first of the series with just 1 second left in the period to give the Express a 4-3 lead heading to the third.

That goal plus the two shorthanded goals had to be real difficult for the Spruce Kings to stomach and something for the Express to build on.

The Express punctuated their shorthanded scoring prowess midway through the third when Alex Murray coughed the puck up to Joey Santucci who snapped it past the out of position goaltender for a 5-3 Express lead and their third shorthanded goal in the game.

Rosenthal then completed the 10th playoff hat-trick in franchise history with an empty net goal to seal the 6-3 win and a 3-1 series lead for the Express heading to Prince George for game 5 looking to advance to the Mainland division final.

Now with the Express in the position they're in, they can try and wrap this series up Monday and try and get some much needed rest and try and limit the amount of travel that may lie ahead for the remainder of the series. Plus the physical toll any series can take on a team.

It won't be an easy task. This series has been very close so far. And it might have been a different story tonight had the Express not scored that late goal with one second remaining in the second period.  The Express will need to have their best game of the series to date to try and get that 4th win of the series which is always the toughest to secure.

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