Probably some nerves of playing on the BCHL's biggest stage played a factor in the start for the Express. Vernon stormed out to a first period lead on goals by Brendan Persley, Brett Mulcahy and Deminco Hannoun. The first two strikes coming in the first 3:05 of the first period.
The visitors settled down and the tide definitely turned in the second period in the Express favor, and Bo Pieper began to take over. He scored his first two goals of the night at even strength and on the power play to pull the Express within one. Then late in the frame Corey Mackin on a shorthanded breakaway scored to tie the game at three with 1:03 left in the period. The Express now have 5 shorthanded goals in the playoffs. And 24 if you including the 19 they tallied in the regular season.
Vernon did restore their lead 3 minutes into the third when Mason Blacklock scored on a breakaway of his own.
Then came a key turning point, Gordie Defiel made a key stop, one of his 31 saves on the night as he came across to his left and stacking the pads to keep his team down just a goal. Moments later Bo Pieper capped off his hat-trick to even the game at 4.
Bo then set an Express playoff franchise record by scoring his 4th of the night to put the Express up for the first time Friday night. Corey Mackin then completed the Express run of 3 goals in a span of 5:02 in the third period with his second of the night. Zach Hodder finished with 3 assists from the backend.
Brendan Persley and Demico Hannoun each had a goal and an assist for Vernon. Austin Smith was tagged for 6 goals on 35 shots.
Game 2 goes Saturday night in Vernon.