Wenatchee scored twice in the final minutes of the third period then Murphy Stratton won it in overtime in a stunning come from behind 4-3 win over the Express. The loss for the Express was their 8th straight and 10th in their last 11 games. Click here for boxscore
It took a little while for the Express to adapt to the style of a Wild team who dressed just 15 skaters. Kolby Matthews held Wenatchee at bay to keep the game scoreless highlighted by a breakaway save off Christophe Fillion.
That save helped spark the Express who began to ramp up their game. During this run for the Express many of their top offensive producers have collectively gone into slumps. One of those players was Connor Gregga. But the first year forward busted his funk in spectacular fashion. He took a pass in stride from Jared Power then cut around a Wild defender then slid home his 19th of the season for a 1-0 Express lead. For the Minnesota State committed forward it was his first point in 8 games.
The lead stood into the latter minutes of the second period when it was extended by Jack Cameron who picked up the puck just inside the Wild blueline and slid a low shot under Austin Park on Cameron's 3rd of the season and a 2-0 Express lead.
It was a defenceman at the other end who would help cut the lead in half just 46 seconds later. Brandon Koch's point shot was tipped in front of by Nathan Iannone past Matthews to cut the Express lead to 2-1 after 2 periods.
With the one goal lead in the third period the Express were in playing well during the frame protecting it. Josh Wildauer is another Express veteran who had gone into a slump recently. But he brought an inspired effort to the rink Sunday. He was diligent and hard on the puck all game long.
Wildauder got tangled up with Jacob Modry behind the Wild net behind the play. When the players separated Wildauer hustled out of the zone to get back on side as the Express came up ice. He got out of the zone in time to take a pass then leave it for a speeding Christian Sanda who scored on a backhand for what appeared to be a big insurance goal with 5:27 to play. Sanda snapped his 13 game goalless drought in the process.
It was shortly after this goal that Wenatchee put on one final desperate push. The Express appeared to be holding it off well.
Then the tables turned with 2 minutes to play. Juliano Santalucia was hit from behind deep in his own zone and was shaken up on the play but no penalty was called. Jordan Schulting came to the defence of his fallen teammate but he came out of the sequence as the only player penalized.
Wenatchee scored right away on the powerplay with a point shot from Chad Sasaki with 1:41 left in the third period to cut the lead to 3-2.
Sasaki then played a role in the equalizer saucing a pass to the Express line that was knocked down by Marko Reifenberger who scored in a breakaway with exactly a minute to go to tie the game at 3.
The stunned Express appeared to shake off the effect of the two quick goals once the game went to overtime.
Pito Walton in the opening minute found himself alone in front of the net but was stoned in tight by Austin Park. Then Jack Cameron was stopped on a 2 on 1 a minute later. Walton was denied a second time of the overtime winner on a rebound chance of a Connor Gregga shot.
In the final minute the Wild got their chance after a Christian Sanda pass back for Josh Bruce eluded the Express forward allowing Murphy Stratton to walk in on a breakaway and he made no mistake beating Kolby Matthews on a backhand to give the Wild the 4-3 win.
Sunday's game was the final home game for the Express in the regular season. They will play their final 4 games on the road in Powell River, Cowichan Valley, Vernon and Surrey.
Liam Watson-Brawn scored a shorthanded goal with 2:21 remaining in the third period that stood as the game winning goal in the Spruce Kings 4-2 win over the Express Friday.
In what is becoming an all too familiar theme, the Express had a solid outing against one of the top teams in the BCHL, but the result just didn't go their way.
The Express played fast in the first period not allowing the Spruce Kings to clamp down on the Express at the other end. However despite the strong play, the reward wasn't there again for the Express to get the lead for the first time in 7 games.
Ben Brar opened the scoring on the first Spruce Kings powerplay of the night. He buried the rebound after a shot from the slot from Nick Poisson was kicked out by Clay Stevenson.
Some of the best chances for either team in the second period came when they were shorthanded. Prince George had multiple two on one opportunities with Lucas Vanroboys in the box, but Clay Stevenson shut the door each time.
At the other end Logan Neaton got his left pad down to prevent Jared Power to score on a shorthanded breakaway with Dallas Farrell in the box. Power would get his revenge however off the ensuing face-off just two seconds later swiping a puck past Logan Neaton to tie the game at 1.
When you have two teams going head to head late in the season knowing there's a good chance they will face-off against one another in the playoffs, there's bound to be some animosity displayed on both sides. The Express showed some jam getting in the grill of a number of Spruce Kings players during a testy second period.
Entering the third period of a 1-1 game, one would hope that the players would be allowed to decide such a competitive game.
That however was not the case. Just past the 5 minute mark of the third period Cooper Connell was whistled for a holding call on what appeared to be a good hard play to come back for the puck at the Prince George blueline.
Nick Poisson scored on that powerplay just 5 seconds later for a 2-1 Spruce Kings lead.
By the time Lucas Vanroboys was whistled for high sticking midway through the period, there was plenty of frustration on both sides with the penalties that were being handed out during the course of the game.
Pito Walton scored a wrist shot on the powerplay to pull the Express even at 2.
With 2:30 left to play in the third period Chong Min Lee was whistled for tripping setting up the most important powerplay for either side on the night.
Right from the draw that was won by the Express, Spruce Kings defenceman Liam Watson-Brawn jumped on the loose puck and rushed the puck into the Express zone and from his off wing snapped a shot past the glove of Clay Stevenson for the third Prince George lead of the night.
Dustin Manz sealed the game in the final minute for Prince George with an empty net goal.
For the Express it was a season high 7th straight loss and 9th loss in the last 10 games.
They will host the Wenatchee Wild on Sunday afternoon.
The Express 2001 expansion cousins the Salmon Arm Silverbacks handed the Express a 2-1 shootout loss as the Express opened a two game Interior division road trip. Click here for boxscore
Getting out of the Mainland division did little for the Express to find a way to get their offensive engine up and running again.
The chances for the Express were there in the first period, but the execution on the finish wasn't there as Ethan Laggennagger turned aside 12 first period Express shots.
Clay Stevenson was solid in the first period with 7 saves on 8 shots. The only puck to beat him was a goal from 16 year old John Little who kept up his hot play when a puck bounced from behind the Express net to Little in front of the net who scored for the only goal of the first period.
The shots in the second period showed the Silverbacks outshot the Express 15-3, I personally don't think they were quite that lopsided in a period with few top end chances for either team.
The Express finally broke through on a third period powerplay when Clay Stevenson quickly moved the puck up ice to Ty Westgard who skated into the zone then dropped a pass for Regan Kimens who scored his 18th of the season to tie the game at 1.
That goal sparked a push for the Express to finish the third period but they couldn't get another puck past Laggennagger in regulation.
In overtime the Express had the better of the chances which included a breakaway for Ty Westgard that was stopped. Plus Jordan Schulting undressed a couple of Silverbacks, but he too couldn't win the game for the Express.
Clay Stevenson at the other end turned aside both Silverbacks shots in overtime. He finished with 31 saves.
The shootout was decided ASAP. Dallas Farrell and Ty Westgard were stopped on their attempts while Nick Unruh and Matthew Verboon scored for Salmon Arm and the shootout was decided after 2 rounds.
The Express are now 2-3 in shootouts (all on the road) and have dropped their last three games that have gone to a shootout.
The mid-week road trip will wrap up in Merritt on Wednesday.
Kolby Matthews has had some of best games of the season in Langley. Saturday night was no different, but like the previous two games, Matthews and the Express ended up on the losing end. This time 1-0 on Saturday night. Click here for boxscore
Matthews counterpart on the other end Braedon Fleming posted his 3rd shutout against the Express this season. Langley finished the season with a 7-1 record against the Express this season.
Saturday's game was no different than plenty of other Express games in recent weeks that was a tight checking, playoff style contest.
It didn't take long to become clear that both goaltenders were going to be difficult to beat.
Kolby Matthews in particular made first period saves on William Stromp on a a 2 on 0 break, then a snapshot save followed by a wraparound save both on Langley forward Bronson Sharp. Matthews then capped off a 10 save first period with two more great saves off Bronson Sharp.
Fleming at the other end turned aside all 8 first period Express shots.
It was more of the same in the second period with the goaltenders going toe to toe.
Alex DiPaolo was hooked as he cut to the net but was still able to get a backhand shot away that was stopped by Fleming. The hook resulted in an Express powerplay. On the advantage the Express struggled to set up the quality chances they wanted.
Then in the dying seconds of the powerplay the puck was flipped back to the Express line where Bronson Sharp was able to get away from Pito Walton then drop a pass back to Jake Livingstone who was stopped by Matthews with another great save, but Livingstone buried the rebound for a shorthanded goal to open the scoring. It was Langley's BCHL leading 11th shorthanded goal of the season.
Kolby Matthews continued to hold firm into the third period keeping the Express within striking distance. But at the other end the Express weren't able to generate many top end chances on Braedon Fleming. With 8 minutes left in the 3rd period Alex DiPaolo was set up on a backdoor pass, but couldn't lift the puck over the shoulder of Fleming who hustled to his right to make the save.
Late in the third period Matthews made another sparking save on Bronson Sharp who saw more than enough of the Express goaltender at his best Saturday night.
The Express got one final shot for the equalizer late in the third period when Ryan Helliwell was called for tripping Regan Kimens with just over two minutes to play.
On the powerplay the Express decided against pulling Matthews for a two man advantage. Fleming capped off his shutout with a one timer save on Connor Gregga with 30 seconds left and then shutting the door on Christian Sanda on the rebound.
Fleming finished with 19 saves for the shutout. Matthews made 32 saves in the losing cause. He's unfortunate to not pick up a win in 3 games in Langley this season where he was fantastic in every single game and allowing only 3 goals on Langley's home ice. Langley has pulled within two points of the Express for 3rd place in the Mainland division with 8 games remaining on the schedule for the Express.
The Express hit the road for a pair of Interior division games this week in Salmon Arm and Merritt Tuesday and Wednesday.
Matt Holmes scored a pair of powerplay goals in the third period which ended up being the difference in the Chiefs 4-2 victory over the Express Friday. Click here for boxscore
The win finished the season series between the two teams which both teams won 4 games. Chilliwack gets the slight edge by picking 9 points head to head against the Express who had 8.
Clark Nelson scored the only goal of the first period following a turnover by the Express inside the Chiefs blue line allowing the Chiefs to go the other way and Nelson snapped a shot short side past the pad of Kolby Matthews. That would be the only goal of a first period that saw Chilliwack outshoot the Express 13-4.
The Express picked their game up in the second period, and right away they were rewarded. Regan Kimens' pass hit the stick of a Chiefs player and the puck just crossed the goal line to tie the game at one.
From there, the Express rode that goal and carried the play to start the second period. Jared Power and Ty Westgard appeared to have a great chance shaping up as they rushed over the blueline, but Power inexplicably dropped the puck back instead of giving it to Westgard who would have a great chance, the drop pass allowed Kevin Wall to go the other way and snap a shot over the glove of Kolby Matthews for the Chiefs second lead of the night.
Power made up for it by taking a Jordan Schuting pass and blasting a one timer over the glove of Daniel Chenard to tie the game at 2. If you combine Power's goals 11 goals with Grande Prairie and 9 with the Express he now has 20 on the season.
This game was similar to a lot of recent outings for the Express that was tight with both teams having to fight for find any open ice.
Josh Bruce was whistled for a double minor high sticking penalty with 7 minutes left in the second period. That was shaping up to be a key moment for the Express by killing off the 4 minutes in penalties pretty effectively.
Chilliwack pushed the pace to open the third period, that combined with some turnovers coming out of the defensive zone the Express eventually were penalized.
With Juliano Santalucia in the box for slashing, Matt Holmes scored from the top of the right circle to give the Chiefs 3-2 lead.
The best chances for the Express to tie came on a powerplay midway through the period. First Alex DiPaolo was denied by Chenard as DiPaolo tired to slide it home on the backhand.
Then DiPaolo was stopped by Chenard on a good setup in the slot.
Santalucia was whistled for his second penalty of the third period for kneeing with 1:58 remaining in the 3rd period.
Matt Holmes sealed the game with his second of the night with just 51 seconds remaining in the game. The Chiefs finished 2 for 5 on the powerplay while killing off 3 Express powerplays.
The Express have now lost 5 of their last 6 games. They will visit Langley on Saturday night where the Express will look for just their 2nd victory of the season vs. the Rivermen.