Saturday, May 30, 2009


(Taken from Burnaby Now)

The Express signed two 1992-born players from their recent prospect camp last weekend at the Burnaby Winter Club.

Defenceman Stefan Gonzales and forward Alex Petan inked their way to the B.C. Junior Hockey League club's main camp in August with eye-catching performances in front of the Express coaching staff.

"Both players are exciting to us," said McLellan.

Gonzales is a 6-1, 180-pound defenceman, who played last season with the Valley West Hawks in the B.C. major midget hockey league.

The Surrey blueliner scored six goals and added 14 assists, while taking 46 minutes in penalties last season.

Petan, a 5-8, 147-pound forward, led the Okanagan Hockey Academy major midget team in scoring last year.

"Petan, in my estimation, is a gem. He's a guy with a lot of special abilities," said McLellan. "I knew after his first shift, he's a pretty dynamic kid."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Burnaby Express Strength & Conditioning coach Grant Ammann has been added to the training staff for Team Pacific for the World Under 17 Championships coming up in late December and early January.

Here's the story from BC Hockey.

BC Hockey announced today the BC staff for Team Pacific that will compete at the 2010 World Under 17 Hockey Challenge in Timmons, Ontario from December 29, 2009 to January 4, 2010. The announcement is a culmination of an application process led by Officer at Large Robin Douville.

BC Staff:

Assistant Director of Operations
Rick Schievink
(Port Alberni, BC)

Assistant Coach
Matt Hughes
(Salmon Arm, BC)

Athletic Therapist
Grant Ammann
(Aldergrove, BC)

Alberta Staff:

Director of Operations
Janis Entem
(Blairmore, AB)

Head Coach
Michael Dyck
(Lethbridge, AB)

Assistant Coach
Kevin Hasselberg
(Didsbury, AB

Equipment Manager
Darrell Dingwall
(Edmonton, AB)

Team Pacific is made up of players from both British Columbia and Alberta who were born in 1993. This represents the first stage in Hockey Canada's Program of Excellence. The 11 players selected from BC will be identified, evaluated, and trained through BC Hockey’s Under 17 High Performance Program, which acts as the province's talent identification and training program for player representation on Canada's national teams.

The World Under 17 Hockey Challenge is the unofficial World Championship for this age level and the first stage for Hockey Canada to identify players for the National Under 18 Team and the World Junior Team. In addition to the five Canadian teams (Pacific, Western, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic) there will be five international teams from USA, Finland, Russia, Sweden, and the Czech Republic.

For more information about BC Hockey, please visit the BC Hockey website at or email .

Sunday, May 24, 2009


While checking out Express prospects camp this weekend, I had a chance to catch up with Express head coach Dave Mclellan who provided an update on how the rebuilding of the Express is going. Dave talks about how the future considerations from last seasons trades are coming together, and his recruting efforts for the upcoming season.

Hear from Coach Dave here.

Here's some the statistics for the players coach Dave Mclellan mentioned in the interview.

Brad Reid - 6'1 - 160lbs - Birthyear (1988) Entering 3rd BCHL season.
08-09 - Penticton Vees (BCHL) - 49GP, 6G, 12A, 18PTS
Career statistics - 100 GP, 12G, 16A, 28PTS

Harrison May - 6'3 - 175lbs - Birthyear (1989) Entering 4th BCHL season
08-09 Merritt Centennials (BCHL) - 46GP, 8W, 29L 4.46GAA, 88.93 Sv.% *Faced 1536 shots last season. 3rd most amongst all goaltenders last season in the BCHL.
Career statistics - 104GP, 25W, 59L, 4.25GAA, 88.90 Sv.%
*Interior Conference All Star last season.

Byron Maxwell - 6'1 - 205lbs - Birthyear (1991) Entering 1st BCHL season
08-09 Abbotsford Pilots (PIJHL) - 40GP - 26G, 7A, 33PTS *26 goals tied for 6th highest total in PIJHL last season. *2008 BC Major Midget League All Star.

Marco Finucci - 6'0 - 180lbs - Birthyear (1991) Entering 1st BCHL season
08-09 Delta Ice Hawks (PIJHL) - 47GP, 19G, 15A, 34PTS *Brother of former Express Carlo Finucci.

Jarryd Ten Vaanholt - 6'1 - 185lbs - Birthyear (1991) Entering 1st BCHL season
08-09 Sicamous Eagles (KIJHL) - 50G, 18G, 22A, 40PTS *Added 8G, 11A, 19PTS in 19 Playoff games last season.

Nick Energren - 5'5 - 148lbs *Played last season with Port Moody (PIJHL)

Won his only career BCHL start. Stopped 17 of 19 shots in a 3-2 Express win over Langley on February 21st.

Malcom McKinney - 5'7 - 153lbs Birthyear (1992) Enterting 1st full BCHL season

08-09 Vancouver Northwest Giants - BC Major Midget League - 36GP, 13G, 24A, 37PTS *Played 3 games last season as an AP with the Express. 0PTS. *Won BC Major Midget League Championship, 2009 BC Major Midget League All Star.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


The Burnaby Express will be hosting their annual spring prospects camp this weekend at the Burnaby Winter Club.

Stay tuned to Burnaby Expressions, as I will be getting interviews at the camp and post them on the site to provide an update on what the Express have been up to during the off-season. Hopefully I will be able to dig up some nuggets for you.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Scrolling through the BCHL commitment list, and i'm pleased to report that both Reid Edmondson and Colin De Jersey have committed to Div. III Geneseo for next season.

Both players played two seasons with the Express. Edmondson improved from his 4 goal and 10 point rookie campaign to 19 goals and 37 points to become the Express top forward this past season.

De Jersey battled concussion problems this season but bounced back strong at the end of the season. He played 77 career games over 2 seasons racking up 9 points.

Congratulations to both Reid and Colin and best of luck in the future.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Congratulations to the Vernon Vipers. They are the 2009 Canadian Junior A Champions. They won the RBC Cup by defeating the defending RBC Cup champion Humboldt Broncos 2-0 in the championship game.

Kellen Jones and RBC MVP Kyle Bigos scored powerplay goals to power the Viper attack.

The insurance marker by Bigos in the 3rd period was a thing of beauty as he danced around a number of sprawled out Broncos en route to slipping it past Mathieu Larochelle to seal the win.

Andrew Hammond stopped all 27 shots he faced for the shutout.

Vernon went a perfect 6-0 at the RBC and finished the playoffs winning their final 11 games overall dating back to their game 6 win over the Powell River Kings to clinch the Fred Page Cup. Vernon went 22-5 overall during the playoffs, and a grand total of 64-19-1-3 if you include the regular season.

The win for Vernon is their 5th Canadian Junior A championship setting a new record. The Vipers previously shared the record with the Prince Albert Raiders for the most Canadian Junior A Championships. Vernon's other 4 National championships came in 1999, 96, 91, 90.

They're the 1st BCHL team to win it all since the Burnaby Express in 2006.

For Humboldt, they were looking to become the first team since the Vernon Lakers of 1990 and 91 to repeat as National Champions, and win their 3rd RBC this decade.

Personal congratulations are in order to former Express defencemen Mike Leidl and Cameron Brodie who were traded to the Vipers at the trading deadline in January. A couple of stud defencemen wrap up their BCHL careers as National Champions.

Brodie will be off to Colgate University on a scholarship for next season.

The Vipers are seen as the model franchise in the BCHL. And this win only further exemplifies that point.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Here's more on the 2006 Royal Bank Cup Champion Burnaby Express

Click here for a full story on the Express 2006 Royal Bank cup season

Hear the highlights of the run to the Fred Page Cup here.

Hear the highlights from the Doyle Cup & Royal Bank Cup.

Here are some numbers for the Express run to the 06 Canadian Junior A Championship

Mainland Division semi finals vs Langley - Express win series 4-0
Gm. 1 Mar 7 @ BBY 3-0 W
Gm. 2 Mar 8 @ BBY 4-1 W
Gm. 3 Mar 10 @ LA 7-2 W
Gm. 4 Mar 11 @ LA 7-5 W

Mainland Division finals vs. Chilliwack - Express win series 4-1
Gm. 1 Mar 17 @ Chilliwack 5-4 W OT
Gm. 2 Mar 18 @ Chilliwack 5-3 W
Gm. 3 Mar. 20 @ BBY 5-4 W
Gm. 4 Mar 21 @ BBY 4-3 OTL
Gm. 5 Mar 24 @ Chilliwack 6-3 W

Coastal Conference finals vs. Victoria - Express win series 4-1
Gm 1 Mar 31 @ BBY 4-3 L
Gm. 2 Apr 1 @ BBY 9-2 W
Gm. 3 Apr. 4 @ VIC 8-1 W
Gm. 4 Apr 5 @ VIC 5-4 W
Gm. 5 Apr 7 @ BBY 5-3 W

Fred Page Cup Finals vs. Penticton - Express win series 4-2
Gm. 1 Apr 10 @ PEN 4-2 W
Gm. 2 Apr 11 @ PEN 4-3 OTL
Gm. 3 Apr 13 @ BBY 7-2 W
Gm. 4 Apr 14 @ BBY 3-1 L
Gm. 5 Apr 16 @ PEN 2-1 W
Gm. 6 Apr 17 @ BBY 2-1 OTW

Doyle Cup vs Fort McMurray - Express win series 4-2
Gm. 1 Apr 21 @ FM 6-3 W
Gm. 2 Apr 22 @ FM 2-0 L
Gm. 3 Apr 23 @ FM 4-3 WOT
Gm. 4 Apr 26 @ BBY 5-4 L
Gm. 5 Apr 28 @ BBY 4-1 W
Gm. 6 Apr 29 @ BBY 6-0 W

Royal Bank Cup @ Brampton Ontario (Record 5-1)
May 6 vs. Streetsville 4-3 OTL
May 8 vs. Yorkton 4-2 W
May 9 vs. Fort William 3-2 W
May 11 vs. Joliette 5-3 W
May 13 Semi vs. Fort William 3-2 OTW
May 14 Championship vs. Yorkton 8-2 W – 06 Canadian Jr. A Champions

9-4, 16PTS

11-2, 22PTS

Playoffs PP 49/195 - 25.13%
Rd 1 Langley 9/28 – 32.14%
Rd 2 Chilliwack 10/37 – 27.02%
Rd 3 Victoria 10/40 – 25%
Rd 4 Penticton 6/27 – 22.22%
Doyle Cup vs. Fort Mac 7/32 – 21.87%
Royal Bank Cup 7/31 – 22.58%

Playoffs PK 141/170 82.94% 29PPG’s allowed
Rd 1 Langley 24/28 85.71 4PPG’s allowed
Rd 2 Chilliwack 22/30 73.33% - 8PPG’s allowed
Rd 3 Victoria 21/24 87.5% – 3 PPG’s allowed
Rd 4 Penticton 20/21 95.23% - 1 PPG allowed
Doyle Cup vs. Fort Mac 32/37 86.4% - 5 PPG’s allowed
Royal Bank Cup 22/30 – 73.33% - 8 PPG’s allowed


Scoring first 17-0
Giving up the first goal 8-7
Tied after one period 4-2
Leading after one period 18-1
Trailing after one period 3-4
Leading after two periods 21-2
Trailing after two periods 2-4
Tied after two periods 2-1
Outshooting opponent 18-4
Outshot by opponent 7-3
Scoring a Power play goal 25-4
Allowing a Power play goal 11-5
Scoring a Shorthanded goal 3-0
Allowing a Shorthanded goal 1-1

Tyler McNeely 9:58 1st OT Gm. 1 @. Chilliwack. Express win 5-4.
Trevor Hunt :48 1st OT Gm. 4 vs. Chilliwack, Chiefs win 4-3
Micheal Guzzo 4:35 1st OT Gm. 2 @ Penticton 4-3 Vees win
Tyler McNeely 5:46 1st OT Gm. 6 @ BBY 2-1 Express win BCHL Championship
Paul Crowder 3:55 1st OT Gm. 3 Doyle Cup @ Fort Mac 4-3 Express win
Steve Tamaridis 7:58 1st OT RBC Rd. Robin Derbys win 4-3
Mark Soares 6:19 1st OT RBC Semi vs. Ft. William Express win 3-2

Don't forget to visit below to read the whole story on the 05-06 Royal Bank Cup championship season for the Express.

Friday, May 1, 2009


The 2009 RBC Cup is on the verge of getting underway this weekend in Victoria.

So I thought it would be fitting to reminisce about the Express' magical run to the 2006 Canadian Junior A Championship.

There are plenty of story lines about that magical season.

First of all, the Express were starting new that season. A new home after re-locating from Coquitlam to Burnaby in the off-season. A new home also meant a new look. The blue, black and silver sweaters with the Thomas the tank engine logo was replaced with a new sleeker and aggressive logo. The new colors were black, red and silver.

There was plenty of optimism heading into the Express 5th season in the BCHL. It would be the first full season for head coach Rick Lanz. He was brought in midway through the previous season to take over from the teams only other head coach Sean Crowther.

Now that Lanz had a full off-season under his belt to re-build this team which went 25-31-1-3 in 04-05, this Express team was preparing to establish itself as a team on the rise in the BCHL.

At the start of the season there were a number of new faces that the Express brass was relying upon to turn this team into one to be reckoned with.

It started with an off-season trade that sent defenceman and former team captain Chad Betts to the Victoria Salsa in exchange for sniper Geoff Irwin. Irwin was expected to help carry the offensive load left behind with the departures of top scorers Mark Soares and Brandon Yip to college.

Plus, there was plenty of excitement about the recruitment of a fresh faced Kyle Turris. The orgnization knew that the just turned 16 year old had the potential to be the best player in this league for his age group.

In between the pipes, the Express had brought in goaltender Bryce Luker. He had spent 2 seasons playing NCAA hockey with limited success. Luker was looking for an opportunity to play Junior A hockey to maintain his college eligibility to have a shot to return to college hockey the following season. He was expected to carry the load between the pipes.

The returning core included Paul Crowder, Tyler McNeely and Brady Cook upfront. The defence including the finesse and skill of all star Alan Mazur, Keith Seabrook and the steady Peter Merth.
When the puck dropped that September, this team was expected to be a very competitive one in the BCHL.

However things didn't start the way the Express had hoped. And by the 15 game mark, the Express had just 4 wins under their belt. Paul Crowder had gone down with a shoulder injury that would sideline him until the playoffs. Goaltender Bryce Luker was injured after suffering a serious cut on his leg after a collision with a Surrey Eagles player. The cut required over 150 stitches to close the wound and Luker had to spend a few days in hospital.

24 hours after Luker went down, his backup Bryan Mahoney Wilson went down as well after being run by a Chilliwack Chiefs player. Then all of a sudden, things were looking really dark for this team. It wasn't supposed to go this way.

With both goaltenders on the shelf, Lanz brought up Matthew Gordon from junior B and he immediately began to help stop the bleeding and stabilizing the Express crease until Luker was ready to re-take his spot as the Express number 1 puck stopper.

At this point, Lanz began to asses his team and realized he needed to make a few trades to get this team going. It quickly became apparent that Alan Mazur wasn't going to be the impact defenceman he was a year ago. He was shipped to Merritt in exchange for hard nosed BCHL veteran Dave Simoes. That trade was shortly followed by a deal that sent forwards Mark Shefchyk and Jamieson Orr to Williams Lake for defencemen Jeff Orban and Shawn Witschen. Orban, was traded by Alberni Valley to Williams Lake in the off-season but didn't report hoping for a deal that would keep him closer to home.

The third trade Lanz made, was picking up Mark Santorelli from Salmon Arm for the recently acquired Witschen who played only 5 games in Express colors. That trade was deemed necessary when it was learned, Paul Crowder was sidelined for the rest of the regular season. Lanz had coached Mark's older brother Mike when the two were in Langley.

With a revamped roster, the Express looked to get this season on the rails it was expected to be on at the start of the season. And that appeared to be the case.

Kyle Turris was proving to be the best rookie in the BCHL. Geoff Irwin and Tyler McNeely we're clicking on the top line sitting among the top scorers in the BCHL. Keith Seabrook was emerging as a BCHL all star. Orban, Simoes and Merth suddenly made this Express defence much tougher to play against.

And, 6 weeks after suffering his gruesome injury, Bryce Luker was back and appeared to be a better goaltender than he was before the injury.

Then just before Christmas, the Express got an early present. Mark Soares was leaving Bemidji State due to a lack of playing time to return to the Express to finish his junior A eligibility. All of a sudden, the Express had added a 37 goal scorer from a year ago into their top 6 without giving up anything.

At this time, the Express had dug themselves out of their early season hole and had put themselves in a position to overtake the Chilliwack Chiefs for first place in the division with a pair of back to back games in early January. But the Chiefs sent the Express a message that it wasn't their time yet. Knocking off Burnaby in both of those games.

The trading deadline saw the Express bring back another face from a season ago. Veteran forward Jovan Matic who played just 2 games at the start of the season with the Vancouver Giants before suffering a shoulder injury was back with the Express.

Matic would provide the team with a strong play making centre who could score as well. The Express also brought in Anthony Wild who had spent some time in Saskatchewan. Wild would provide the Express with a versatile player who would add depth either on defence or in the bottom 6 forwards.

Now that the pieces were in place, it was time for this team to start to send a message to the rest of the BCHL that the Express were for real. But, before that could truly happen, the Express needed to get some bodies back in the lineup. Injuries had kept a number of players on the sidelines at various points of time during the season. Crowder was the most notable. Matic still wasn't completely recovered from his shoulder injury.

While the Express waited for the injured bodies to return, the team that was dressing was already starting to gel.

Shortly after the deadline, the Express went out on the road for a 4 game in 4 night road trip on the island. No question it wasn't going to be easy. It opened up with a pair of losses vs. two of the top teams in all of Canadian Junior A Hockey the Alberni Valley Bulldogs and Nanaimo Clippers. That was followed by controversial overtime losses the next 2 nights in Victoria and Cowichan Valley. Head coach Rick Lanz came out of that trip suspended for 3 games after arguing with the referee following the tough loss in Victoria.

The next weekend, the Express went up north for games in Prince George, Williams Lake and Quesnel. The trip opened up with Geoff Irwin playing his first game after the all star game in Salmon Arm. Irwin set up all 4 goals including Keith Seabrook's OT winner in Prince George in a 4-3 victory. The next night, the Express tied Williams Lake at 4. The trip wrapped up with Irwin scoring the winning goal in overtime to give the Express a 3-2 win in Quesnel.

The Express finished the trip with 5 out of a possible 6 points. The success of this trip, and the adversity of the Island swing proved to be vital for this team as it would be the start of a long run of success away from home.

As the calendar turned to the month of February, the Express were still in a position to compete for top spot in the Mainland division. The Express had a crucial game with the Chilliwack Chiefs on the afternoon of Sunday February 12th at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre. This game was an opportunity for the Express to send a message that they were to be respected as a contender in this league.

However, after 60 minutes of hockey was completed, the Express were fed a huge piece of humble pie after being hammered 8-0 on home ice. Certainly the most devastating loss of the season. There wasn't anyone who attended that game that didn't leave with a feeling of embarrassment if you were either a player, coach, staff member, fan or volunteer with the Express organization.

But when the sun rose the next day, and the sting of the 8-0 loss had gone away, this loss would prove to be the best thing to happen to the 2006 Burnaby Express. This team had learned it's lesson about what it was going to take to win if this team was going anywhere in the playoffs.

That loss would wake this team up and it would win it's final 6 games of the regular season. The Express finished the season with a record of 34-20-1-5. Good for 2nd place in the Mainland division.

The Express drew the Langley Hornets in the first round of the playoffs. It was the first time in franchise history the Express did not play the Chilliwack Chiefs in the playoffs opening round. The Express and Chiefs had faced each other in the opening round in each of the first four seasons of the Express existence.

The Express opened the playoffs with a bang as Bryce Luker stopped everything he faced with a shutout win in game 1. The Express had quickly opened up a 3-0 lead in the series. In game 4, the Express were cruising along with a 6-1 lead early in the third period and it appeared a trip the 2nd round was in the bag. But the Hornets did everything in their power to get back in the game and had cut the lead down to one with just 1:25 to go. But that would be as close as the Hornets would come as the Express hit the empty net for a 7-5 win and a 4 game sweep for the first ever series win in Express franchise history.

Round 2, the Express drew their playoff nemesis and number 1 rival the Chilliwack Chiefs. It was the 5th straight season the teams had met in the playoffs. Chilliwack had won each of the previous 4 meetings including the previous 3 seasons in the decisive 7th game in Chilliwack. The 7 game loss one year ago really stung as the Express had opened up a 3-1 series lead. Only to let it slip away.

Chilliwack dominated the season series in the 60 game campaign. Winning 8 of the last 10 meetings and 4 straight overall. But the Express went into this series looking to prove things would be different this time around. The Express got a boost with the return of Paul Crowder to the lineup. He had missed 51 games in the regular season and playoffs after having shoulder surgery. He was immediatly placed back on the top line between Geoff Irwin and Tyler McNeely.

The Express opened up a 4-1 lead in game 1. But the Chiefs came storming back with 3 goals in the third period to tie the game and force overtime. As mentioned earlier, the goal of this Express team in this series was to prove that things would be different this time around and that was the case in game 1. Tyler McNeely took advantage of a Chilliwack turnover and scored on a breakaway in the final seconds of the first overtime to give the Express a 5-4 win.

Game 2 proved that Paul Crowder was back for good. He scored a hat-trick in just his 2nd game back from injury to lead the Express to victory and a 2-0 Express lead after a pair of road wins.

The Express opened up a 3-0 series lead when the series shifted back to Burnaby after a 5-4 win. The win extended Burnaby's winning streak to 13 games dating back to the regular season following that 8-0 loss to the Chilliwack Chiefs.

The Express couldn't complete the sweep on home ice after dropping a 4-3 overtime decision in game 4.

The series shifted back to Chilliwack for game 5. And the Express finished off the Chiefs with a 6-3 win. Tyler McNeely scored a hat-trick for the Express.

Tyler McNeely, Geoff Irwin and Paul Crowder had destroyed the Chiefs offensively in this series. That trio combined for 16 goals and 19 assists for 35 points in the 5 games. McNeely led the way with 8 goals and 10 assists in the series.

The 5 game series win over the Chiefs felt like a huge monkey off the back of the Express organization. The losses in each of the previous 4 seasons left wounds that weren't healed until the Express completed a series victory of their own.

It is hard to describe the emotion involved following the win over their top rival. It had felt like this team had won a championship. The series win also proved to be another vital moment for this Express squad. It gave them the confidence that this team was truly capable of doing some damage the rest of the way in the playoffs.

The Express caught a break when they got ready for their opponent in the Coastal Conference finals. The Victoria Salsa were writing a cinderella story after knocking off the heavily favoured Nanaimo Clippers and Alberni Valley Bulldogs in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Both the Clips and Dogs had aspirations of going to the Royal Bank cup after finishing the season with the top 2 records in the BCHL.

Victoria's cinderella run continued in game 1 with a 4-3 win over the Express. The game 1 win however would prove to be midnight for the Salsa. The Express hammered Victoria on home ice 9-2 in game 2 evening the series. Mark Soares had a hat-trick in the win. It was a similar story in game 3 in Victoria. The Express won big 8-1 and Mark Soares had his second consecutive hat-trick. The Express took the next 2 games to take the series in 5 games. The Express had outscored Victoria 27-10 in the final 4 games of the series.

The Express were now off to the Fred Page Cup finals for the first time in frachise history.

The Penticton Vees were Burnaby's opponent in the battle for the Fred Page Cup. If the players weren't sure about what they were playing for. They just had to look up in the concourse of the Penticton Memorial Arena and see the Fred Page Cup on display in the BC Hockey Hall of Fame located inside the arena.

Game 1 proved to be a indicator of what to expect in this series and that it was going to be a hard fought title battle. The Express took the first game by a score of 3-2. Mark Santorelli scored the game winning goal in the third period. The goal snapped a prolonged scoring drought for Santorelli which had dated back to the opening round vs. Langley.

Game 2 was tight as well. The Vees prevailed with a 4-3 overtime win. Micheal Guzzo scored after a Burnaby turnover in their own zone. The loss snapped Burnaby's 14 game unbeaten streak on the road. The Express went over 3 months between losses on the road. Their last loss came in overtime in Cowichan Valley back in January as part of that 4 game in 4 night road trip.

The series shifted to Burnaby for games 3 and 4. Burnaby took game 3 with a 7-2 win. The series was even again after a 3-1 Penticton win in game 4.

That set up a pivotal game 5 in Penticton. Prior to the game, coach Rick Lanz had given his troops a great motivational speech from my understanding that truly got everyone fired up. It certainly worked.

The teams were tied at 1 after 2 periods. Then came the games turning point, with the Express on a powerplay, Ryan Costanzo stole the puck and went in on a breakaway but was turned aside twice by Bryce Luker. That save proved to be large as the Express took the puck up the ice seconds later and Keith Seabrook scored his 2nd of the game to give the Express a 2-1 lead. And that would be the final.

Burnaby came home for game 6 looking to wrap up their first BCHL Championship.

Heading into the game, the Express wanted to wrap the series up on home ice. They were really motivated to get it done on this night. Knowing they had to hop on the bus and try and win the series in Penticton the next night in game 7 if they had lost was all the motivation this team needed.

The teams traded goals in the first period with Dave Simoes finding the back of the net for Burnaby. And that would be all the scoring in regulation. And the game went to overtime.

In ot Luker stepped up again. And again it came off Ryan Costanzo. The Vees forward had Luker down and out. All he had to do was roof the puck on the backhand and the series was going back to Penticton for game 7. But somehow Luker fired up the glove and kept the puck out.

Moments later, Paul Crowder carried the puck into the Vees zone and his pass was re-directed by Tyler McNeely over the shoulder of Cory Milan and the Express were BCHL champions.

After the celebrations were over, the Express were off to Fort McMurray Alberta to face the Oil Barons to begin the Doyle Cup.

The Express kept on rolling in Fort Mac taking game 1 by a score of 6-3. The Oil Barons evened the series with a 2-0 win and forcing a third game to be played in Fort McMurray. This one went to overtime. Paul Crowder had a number of great scoring chances on one shift to end it, then finally on the third try he beat Jimmy Bernier with a snap shot to the stick side to give the Express a 4-3 win and a 2-1 lead in the series coming home.

The series was even again after a 5-4 Oil Baron win in game 4. But the Express would dominate the rest of the way and Kyle Turris' time to shine had arrived. He along side Jovan Matic and Mark Soares really started to lead the offensive attack for this team. The trio was instrumental in Burnaby's 4-1 win in game 5. Turris scored twice in the win.

In game 6, Turris got the Express off on the right foot by scoring twice in the opening period. Keith Seabrook then took over offensively. He scored twice in the 2nd period and the defenceman completed his hat-trick in the 3rd period as the Express wrapped up the Doyle Cup win with a 6-0 white washing. The win punched the Express ticket to the Royal Bank Cup.

Now the Express were off to Ontario for the RBC. The Express opened up with a 4-3 OT loss in the tournament's opening game to the host Streetsville Derbys. The Express let this one slip away as they had built up a 3-1 lead in the third period before Streetsville rallied with a pair of quick goals then winning in OT.

The rest of the round robin saw the Express knock off Yorkton 4-2, Fort William 3-2 and Joliette 5-3. The Express finished the round robin with a record of 3-1 good enough for a tie of first place with Streetsville.

That set up a semi final matchup with the Fort William First Nation North Stars. And heading into this game, one thing was clearly apparent. The Express still hadn't played their best hockey in the tournament. But were still finding ways to win despite not playing to their potential. That trend carried over into the semi finals and the Express were trailing 2-0 after 40 minutes.

In the third period with the Express facing elimination for the first time in the playoff run, they finally got going. But as the clock ticked down, it appeared that Fort William goaltender Carter Hutton was going to be too much for the Express. They finally broke through when Mark Santorelli scored with 1:50 remaining to pull the Express within one. Now the Express poured it on looking for the equalizer. Kyle Turris scored one of the most dramatic goals in Express history as he roofed it over Hutton to tie the game at 2 with just 11 seconds left in the Express season. Burnaby had rallied from a 2-0 deficit with less than 2 minutes remaining in the third period.

So it was off to overtime, Fort William had a chance to end it early as Bryce Luker came up with another one of his timely save as he sprawled to keep the puck out.

Moments later, the Express were off to the Royal Bank Cup. The puck came around the boards to Keith Seabrook. He found Mark Soares in the slot who wired a quick wrist shot past Hutton to send the Express to the Royal Bank Cup final. A comeback for the ages for sure. And for those who experienced it, the emotions were unreal.

In the Royal Bank Cup final, the Express faced the Yorkton Terriers. And it was evident early that the Express were saving their best for last. They scored early and often. Kyle Turris scored the first two goals for the Express. Steven Cunningham had given the Express a 3-0 lead by the eleven minute mark of the 1st period banging home a rebound of a Mark Santorelli shot.

The offence kept rolling in the 2nd period with goals by Mark Soares, Kyle Turris' 3rd of the game and Mark Santorelli and all of a sudden the Express had a 6-0 lead in the championship game of the Royal Bank Cup. The prize was coming home. The score finished 8-2 in favour of the Express. On this night, the Express easily could have hit double digits. They were truly that dominant. Kyle Turris finished the game with 3 goals and 1 assist for 4 points. He could have had 5 goals on this night at least.

The tournament proved to be a coming out party for Turris as he was named the Royal Bank Cup MVP after leading the tournament in scoring with 7 goals and 6 assists for 13 points.

For head coach Rick Lanz, the win erases the sting of losing the Royal Bank Cup final in 1997 when he coached the South Surrey Eagles.

Mark Soares, who played 5 seasons with the Express and suffered through all the playoff dissapointments of the franchises first four seasons was going out as a champion.

It was a long road. The team played a total of 92 games in the regular season and playoffs. Their playoff record was 25-7. If you want to go back to the 8-0 loss to Chilliwack on February 12th, after that game the Express went 31-7.

They had never lost consecutive games during the playoff run.

Other moments that personally stand out for me, I remember interviewing goaltender Bryce Luker in the final game of the round robin of the Royal Bank Cup. He wasn't dressed in order to give him some rest in preperation for the semi finals. Bryce and I were dicussing how far he's come after suffering the cut on his leg. And I don't think he was aware he was doing it. But I just recall Luker rubbing his cut leg probably just subconciously.

Another moment that stands out for me, I was in the dressing room after the championship game, and the team had gathered together in the locker room for a huddle to talk about what they had accomplished. But one person was missing and that was defenceman Jeff Orban. He had suffered a seperated shoulder in the RBC and played through it. I just remember him sitting off on the bench on his own in tears. Probably a moment of reflection about what he had gone through in order to win the RBC. I never asked him what was going through his mind, but that moment is one thing that really stands out in my mind.

Just spending the time reflecting on that time and the memories come flooding back. And I understand that this is extremely long winded, but as Scott Morrison told me when I first started the blog, it's a labour of love. And I wouldn't spend the time writing something like this if I didn't love it. As exemplified, the memories from 3 years ago are as fresh as ever. I hope you enjoyed it.