For the Express heading up to Penticton if you were to list a number of items for the Express to tick off to snap the Vees 22 game winning streak they would be...
- Top notch goaltending - check
- Smart decisions with the puck - check
- Disciplined play - check
- Be ready to go for 60 minutes and possibly more - check
The Express did all those things and played their best game of the season in Penticton Wednesday but lost 1-0 in double overtime. Click here for boxscore
Wednesday's game may have been the game of the season in the BCHL this year. Tyler Howat for the Express and Anthony Brodeur for the Vees were stellar in their respective creases.
Head Coach Barry Wolff knew entering this week that his team had three big tests with two games vs. Penticton and one vs. Wenatchee. He pushed his troops hard at practice to be ready to go. And in their first test they rewarded their head coach with a strong game.
The Express caught a break right from the start with Colton Poolman of the Vees being called for delay of game after he failed to leave the ice on time following the conclusion of warm up.
That allowed the Express to settle in the game and try and put the Vees in an early hole. The Express weren't able to convert on the power play. Minutes later the Express were on the power play a second time. This time around they were a little more threatening around the Vees net but weren't able to get a puck past Brodeur.
The Express started the game by outshooting the Vees 11-0.
One of the Vees best chances in the first period came off the stick of Demico Hannoun who had a shorthanded breakaway and couldn't beat Howat trying to go to the backhand. (Full disclosure here) It was hard to tell from my broadcast position so far away if Howat got a piece to make a save or Hannoun missed the net.
Scott Conway came close to opening the scoring in the first period ringing a shot off the crossbar from the left circle. Then the best chance for either team in the first period came off the stick of Tyson Jost, he had the puck at the side of a wide open Express net and I still don't know how he was unable to convert the tap in and it was scoreless after one period.
The bounces continued to go Howat's way in the second period when Hannoun rang a shot off the post from the right wing. Owen Sillenger also ripped a shot off the red metal from the left wing.
The Express had another solid period outshooting the Vees 13-10 and had a 27-18 advantage in shots through 40 minutes.
The Vees really began to press in the third period looking to break the deadlock. But Howat only raised his game to match the Vees level.
Tyson Jost had three good chances in regulation play to score. Aside from the tap in he missed, he was robbed by Howat on the power play after unleashing a one timer from the right circle only to be turned away by the black and red leather glove of Howat. Jost also had a good chance to score in the final two minutes of the third period as he used his speed to attack the Express defence and take the puck to the net.
Blake Hayward watched for an anxious two minutes in the third period sitting on the penalty box after a solid play on the back check. Hayward came out of the box and joined Colton Kerfoot to set up a two on one. Kerfoot slid the puck across the Hayward who couldn't finish the chance as Brodeur reached back to keep the puck out.
The Express executed their game plan to a "T" for a full 60 minutes but not a single goal was scored. So for just the second time in franchise history the Express had played 60 minutes of scoreless hockey. The only other occasion was the season opener for the Express at the first ever BCHL showcase where Brady Shaw gave the Express a 1-0 OT win over Victoria on September 12, 2013.
But this game was historic for the Express being the first game to be scoreless going into 3 on 3 overtime after nothing was decided of 5 minutes of 4 on 4.
After 65 minutes of scoreless hockey, it seemed like the game ended in a blink of an eye in 3 on 3. The Vees won the opening draw and Scott Conway on the opening possession attacked Jackson Cressey one on one and beat him then just trickled a shot through Howat for a heart breaking ending for the Express and extending the Vees winning streak to 23 just 16 seconds into double overtime.
The loss for the Express was disappointing. But they showed what they can do when they're on their game. Play smart and be able to compete with the best team in the country. The Express will have another crack at the Vees Saturday night in Coquitlam. Before that they will host the Wenatchee Wild Friday.