Saturday, December 29, 2012


It's official, the Coquitlam Express and Langley Rivermen are in a fight for the final playoff spot in the Mainland division after the Rivermen swept a home and home with the Express Friday and Saturday and have 3 straight wins in head to head meetings between the two clubs since the middle of December.

Langley is now nipping on the heels of the Express sitting one point back of the current occupiers of 4th place with Langley having a game in hand.

The Express have 22 games left in the season and Langley has 23. There's two head to head meetings left between the two teams. And from here until the end of the regular season, these two clubs are likely going to be jockeying for positioning.

The last three head to head meetings between the Express and the Rivermen have been pretty forgettable for the Express.

Saturday night the Rivermen dropped the Express 7-4. In the last three games between the two clubs the Rivermen have outscored the Express 21-8.

Like the night before, the Rivermen put the Express in an early hole. They quickly jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the thirteen minute mark on goals by Austin Azurdia, Ben Butcher and Mario Puskarich on the powerplay.

The three goals saw Cole Huggins' night come to an end after just 9 shots. He was pulled for a second consecutive outing at the Langley Events Centre.

Like the night before, the Express didn't let the early hole effect their morale and they battled to try and get back into the game.

Zach Pryzbek got the Express on the board as he knocked a puck out of the air and in the net on the powerplay.

Old faithful Phil Zielonka kept up his scoring ways striking on the powerplay just over 4 minutes later to pull the Express within one and the Express nearly dug themselves out of a hole they put themselves in. That would turn out to be a theme on this night.

Last minute goals always seems to be such critical goals. And that proved to be the case again on Saturday.

Mario Puskarich broke out on an odd man rush for Langley and he found the late man coming late and Logan Smith snapped home the feed past Daniel Urbani with just 29 seconds remaining in the period to restore the two goal Langley lead going to the second period.

The Rivermen opened the period with a double minor powerplay after Travis Stephens was assessed a double minor for butt ending at the 20:00 mark of the first period.

The Express managed to kill off the penalties. Thanks in part to Langley's passive style and desire to set up for the perfect play.

John Siemer pulled the Express back within a goal as he took a pass from Phil Zielonka and used his great hands in tight and slide the puck through the legs of James Barr to pull the Express back within one at 12:10.

The penalty killers for the Express came up big again late in the second period killing off a 93 second two man advantage. From a Langley perspective, they might look at that one again as being a little too passive looking for the perfect play.

Entering the third period despite all the adversity for the Express, the game was still up for grabs.

Just over two minutes into the period, Austin Azurdia added his second of the game as he scored on a wrap around.

Then a shade under two minutes later the Rivermen struck again as Jacob Reichert cut into the slot and slid the puck through the legs of Urbani to make it a 6-3 lead.

John Siemer responded quickly for the prettiest goal of the night as he led a 3 on 2 rush and decided to keep the puck and dance around the defenceman and power the puck to the net and slide it past James Barr.

Derek Sutliffe capped off the scoring on an unfortunate break for the Express as Brandon Morley ran into the referee which resulted in a tunover and Sutliffe wired a shot over the glove of Urbani to make it a 7-4 game.

It was a busy night for the shot keepers in the game as the teams each had 44 shots on this night.

The Express will play their third game in as many days Sunday afternoon as they will host the Surrey Eagles for just the second time this season. And first since late September. 

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