Friday, March 2, 2018


The Express opened their Interior division quarter final with a tight 2-1 loss to the Penticton Vees. Despite a valiant push by the Express, they couldn't break through for the equalizer late and trail this series 1-0.  Click here for boxscore

The opening 20 minutes saw the teams with chances at both ends. In the opening minute Chris Klack found himself alone behind the Express defense and was stopped by Brock Hamm as he went to the backhand. That save would be the start of a very impressive junior hockey playoff debut for Hamm. Friday was his first ever junior playoff game despite three years in the WHL Saskatoon and one year with Humboldt of the SJHL.

At the other end Eric Linell raced into the Vees zone unleashing a wrist shot that produced a juicy rebound for Jonny Sheardown, but Adam Scheel came to his right to rob the Express defender.

Penticton opened the scoring just shy of the 5 minute mark. Off a won draw in the Express zone by Taylor Ward, Johnny Tychonick did a nice job of walking the line then beating Hamm with a wrist shot that he never saw.

The early goal didn't allow Penticton to open the flood gates and really start to take over the play. The Express stayed right with the top team in the league.

Josh Wildauer came close to evening things up for the Express with a shot that clanged off the goal post on a first period power play.

In the opening minute of the second period the Express did strike. Jack MacNab got the puck into the Vees zone and Will Lawerence on the forecheck forced the turnover then set up Christian Sanda to even the game at one.

It was shortly following this goal that the game started to pick up for the Vees and Hamm started to shine.

He stopped a tip play in the goal crease on Marcus Mitchell to keep the game tied at one.

One momentary let down allowed the Vees to go ahead. A turnover along the boards quickly developed into a two on one down low and Mitchell put a pass on the tape of Jack Barnes who converted the set up for a 2-1 Vees lead.

Right off the face-off following the 2-1 goal Hamm stopped Jackson Keane with a quick glove save. Minutes later Hamm made a save on a Wyatt Sloboshan breakaway to keep the Express deficit at one heading to the third period.

The Vees lead was holding up at 8:46 of the third period when Josh Wildauer was drilled from behind by James Miller who was given a 5 minute major for a check from behind and a game misconduct. Devon Mussio didn't take too kindly to the hit delivered on Wildauer and came to his defense and was given a two minute roughing penalty. The Mussio penalty shaved off two minutes of a 5 minute power play the Express hoped to use for the equalizer. On the three minutes of power play time they did have, they had possession that led a few shots directed towards Scheel but nothing overly dangerous.

Meanwhile at the other end Hamm was still on top of his game keeping the Express one shot away from sending the game to overtime. Hamm made 14 third period saves. He finished with 37 saves and was named the game's second star.

In the dying moments as the Express made their final push they won a number of offensive zone draws that led to some of the best scoring chances of the night.

Will Lawerence was denied as he tried to stuff in the puck at the side of the net. Then off the next draw Josh Wildauer had a great chance in the slot and he let a good shot go that forced Scheel to fight with all he had to get control of the puck before the Express could get a stick on it.

Troy Robillard also had a good wrist shot chance off won face-off.

Eventually the clock ran out and the Vees held on to take the opener. Penticton outshot the Express 39-19.

Both teams were 0 for 2 on the power play.

Game two goes Saturday night 6pm in Penticton.

Game's 3 and 4 will be played Tuesday and Wednesday night in Coquitlam. 

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