Saturday, February 24, 2018


Jake Toor delivers a big hit.
Photo courtesy of Garrett James
The regular season came to an end Friday night for the Express concluding a home and home with the Langley Rivermen. It was a dramatic finish to the regular season with a entertaining 2-2 tie.
Click here for boxscore

Langley is fighting with the Chilliwack Chiefs and Surrey Eagles for home ice in the first round of the playoffs. Meanwhile the Express are playing out the string while they await to learn who their first round opponent will be which is the team that finishes first in the Interior division.

To start the game the visitors played with a desperation of a team trying to secure home ice. They were fast, moving the puck quickly with authority and they peppered Brock Hamm opening an early 6-0 advantage in shots.

Hamm stood tall until the Express were able to start turning the game in their favour.

Penalties to Jordan Dawson and Colin Bernard gave the Express a two man advantage. It didn't take long for them to strike. Jonny Sheardown rushed the puck into Langley's zone and dished on the right wing to Ryan Stack who walked in and ripped a wrist shot past Braedon Fleming to open the scoring on Stack's second goal in an Express uniform. Brock Hamm picked up the second assist on the play.

Colby Pederson & Eric Linell - Photo courtesy of Garrett James
That goal got the Express going and by the end of the first period the shots were nearly even. In the final minute Stack and Josh Wildauer worked the puck deep in the Rivermen zone. Eventually Stack set up Wildauer who fired a shot over the shoulder of Fleming for a 2-0 Express lead after 20 minutes.

Langley picked their game up again in the second period. They broke through just past the 5 minute mark when John Wojciechowski from the high slot executed a crafty deflection form the high slot of a Alec Capstick slap shot over Brock Hamm's shoulder to cut the Express lead to 2-1.

Angus Crookshank evened things up on a Rivermen power play that saw them move the puck around in the Express zone, Eventually Sean Gulka found Crookshank alone in the slot and he beat Hamm on a backhand to even things up at 2 after 40 minutes.

The teams played it pretty tight in the third period and nothing was decided after 60 minutes. Friday's game was the 3rd straight visit by Langley this season that went to overtime.

The extra session started with a bang. As Eric Linell was rushing the puck up the ice, behind the play Doug Scott got tangled up with Rivermen captain Brendan Budy and they both dropped the gloves. For Scott it was his third fight against Langley this season after having previous tilts with Sean Gulka and Nik Ponak.

Scott was given an extra two minutes for instigating.

On the power play Brock Hamm made some of his best saves of the night. That included coming to his left for his best save of the night on a Angus Crookshank one timer.

Jack MacNab - Photo courtesy of Garrett James
The Express scratched 5 regulars allowing for three AP's to dress. Cody Hough got another game for the Express on the blueline. He had one of the better chances in 4 on 4 OT jumping into a rush and tipping a pass just wide of the goal on a 2 on 1.

As usual things opened up when the teams went down to 3 on 3. Devon Mussio had the best chance for either side to win it. Eric Linell cut to the net and was stopped, then the puck was just sitting in front of the Langley net for seemingly an eternity and Mussio pounced on it and put a shot off the intersection of the post and cross bar.

The shots finished 32-27 in favor of Langley. The tight season series between the teams saw the Express finish with a 3-3-2 record vs. Langley.

Penticton plays Wenatchee Saturday night. A Vees win will secure top spot in the Interior division and a first round matchup with the Express. The single point for Langley opens up a two point lead on Surrey and Chilliwack for second place and home ice advantage.

The playoffs for the Express will begin on the road next Friday. 

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