Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Express salute fans following game 6 win over Prince George.

The Coquitlam Express eliminated the Prince George Spruce Kings in game 6 of their Mainland division semi final with a 2-1 win.

It's the first series win for the Express franchise since the Kyle Turris years in 2006 and 2007 when the franchise was located in Burnaby. It's also the first time the Express franchise based in Coquitlam has won a playoff series.

Both teams hit the ice 24 hours after playing game 5 the night before 9 hour drive up north in game 5 following a 3-2 Prince George OT win.

Midway through the first period Prince George opened the scoring midway through the first period when Justin Rai took a drop pass from Cole Todd and snapped home his fourth goal of the playoffs.

Captain Ryan Rosenthal pulled the Express even just over 4 minutes later when he took a pass from Corey Mackin from behind the net and snapped home his fourth goal of the series to tie the game at one.

The second period saw Prince George open the period with a power play with Cody Boyd in the box. The man advantage was extended with 1 second left in the penalty when Joey Santucci was called for roughing.

The Express killed off both penalties after being a man down for nearly 4 minutes.

On the other side of the special teams coin the Express power play was starting to feel a little heat for not having scored entering game 6. It finally broke through midway through the second period when Bo Pieper banged home the rebound of a Cam Marks shot off the end boards midway through the second period for a 2-1 Express lead.

As the second period ticked down, the Express top line of Adam Rockwood, Corey Mackin and Ryan Rosenthal began to really dominate every time they were on the ice. Many of their shifts were spent in the Prince George zone trying to extend the Express lead.

The third period began with the Spruce Kings needing to raise their game with hopes of extending their season in an attempt to force a game 7.

And they sure did have a push. Prince George had chances for Skylar Pacheco and Jeremiah Luedtke ring off the post. Justin Rai was denied at the side the net. Gordie Defiel made a solid save on a deflection from the slot. The Express net minder saved his best save for a glove save off Mitch Eden.

The Express also killed off two more Prince George power plays in the third period and they finished a perfect 6 for 6 while a man down.

In a series that saw the teams combine for just 3 power play goals, 2 for Prince George and 1 for the Express, the Express went 1 for 23 on the power play while killing off 28 of 30 shorthanded situations in the series.

There was very little that separated these two teams through the 6 games. 4 of the 6 games were decided by just a single goal.

In the end I believe the Express depth which saw 10 different players score goals to just 5 for Prince George, and just some slightly better goaltending by Gordie Defiel than Alex Murray propelled this series win.

Round two of the playoffs will begin Friday night when the Express will line up against the BCHL regular season champion Langley Rivermen in the Mainland division final.

This series has the makings to be another hard fought and tight series similar to what the Express faced in round one. The biggest difference from round 1 to round 2 might be a more physical test against a bigger and more physical Langley team. It certainly has the makings to be another good one.

I'm sure I speak for all of you when I say I can't wait.

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