Saturday, March 5, 2016


Ryan Forbres scored the overtime winner as the Chilliwack Chiefs took game one 3-2 of the Mainland division semi final vs. the Express. Click here for boxscore

The Chiefs lead the best of 7, 1-0.

The Express played as close to a perfect road game you could have asked for in a building the Express haven't won in their last 11 visits to Chilliwack.

They played a patient game, didn't allow Chilliwack to run the Express around in their end of the rink. Limiting the quality chances that goaltender Lawson Fenton faced.

Head Coach Barry Wolff gave Chilliwack a different look mixing up his line combinations. Alex Ambrosio took Jackson Cressey's spot centering Colton Kerfoot and Austin McILMurray.

Cressey played on the wing with Mitch Newsome and Cam Bertsch. Cressey did take the majority of the faceoffs when he was on the ice.

The Express came close to opening the scoring in the first period. Ryan Coghan blasted a shot off the post. Seconds later the Express threw the puck at the net and it bounced off the leg of Alex Ambrosio and just wide.

One of the biggest keys for the Express in this series will be how they manage Jordan Kawaguchi. He has torn the Express to shreds the last two seasons. Almost every time the Kawaguchi, Kale Kane and Jeremy Germain line was on the ice they were matched up with against the Mat Michie, Jack Surowiec and Blake Hayward line.

They were responsible for keeping Kawaguchi within an arms length and get in his face whenever possible.

It was scoreless after one period with the Express outshooting the Chiefs 14-10.

Simplicity was one of the best aspects of the Express game all night long. They just threw plenty of pucks at Chiefs goaltender Aiden Pelino whenever they could. That part of the Express game picked up in the second period. Jack Surowiec, Colton Kerfoot, had some of the Express best chances in the opening half of the second period.

At this point in time no one should be surprised who opened the scoring. The Express didn't have the the Surowiec, Michie and Hayward line on the ice, they had a chance to dump the puck in from center ice to make the change and get the matchup they wanted. Then the puck is turned over at the Chilliwack blueline and Kawaguchi is going the other way with it. He beat an Express defender off the rush then bounced the puck in off Lawson Fenton to opening the scoring. Kawaguchi had 10 goals in 6 regular season games vs. the Express this season.

The lead only last four minutes as the Express tied it on a power play goal by Luca Leone coming out the corner with the puck and sliding it between the legs of Pelino.

The Express were in the position they wanted to be in a 1-1 tie entering the third period. Special teams was shaping up to be a big difference maker for the Express in game 1. They killed off a Mat Michie roughing penalty early in the period. Then Austin McIlMurray gave the Express the lead taking a feed in the slot and scoring to put the Express up 2-1 with 12 to go set up by Jackson Cressey and Colton Kerfoot.

Then the Express penalty killers rose to the occasion shutting down a Chilliwack poweprlay with Nic Coltura in the box.

As the clock ticked down to the final minutes the Express were doing everything right to close out game 1 and come away victorious. They were getting pucks deep in the Chiefs zone, they were responsible defensively, getting in shooting lanes and blocking shots protecting the middle part of the ice.

Chilliwack made their final push in the final minute pulling Aidan Pelino and Austin Adam came off the bench as the extra skater. Adam found the puck on his stick at the line and did the smart thing throwing the puck at the net and it bounced to the stick of Jordan Kawaguchi who scored the tie the game with 57 seconds left.

It is becoming the stuff of legend the amount of massive goals that Kawaguchi has scored against the Express the last two seasons. He has 23 goals in his last 21 games against the Express. The vast majority of those goals have all been enormous.

In overtime the Express made an early push looking to end the game with chances for Alex Ambrosio and a Luca Leone defection.

Overtime only lasted four minutes. Ryan Forbes carried the puck into the Express zone, cut into the middle and fired a wrister that powered through Lawson Fenton and trickled into the net to give Chilliwack the come from behind game 1 win.

Despite the disappointing setback, the Express have to focus on the solid effort they put forth in game one. The outcome didn't go their way. But it wasn't from a lack of solid play. Another structured effort in game 2 could put the Express in a position to come home for game 3 in Coquitlam with a split.

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