Friday, December 28, 2012


The BCHL returned from the Christmas break Friday night.

The Express begin their post Christmas schedule with a home and home with the Langley Rivermen.

In the opener, the Rivermen dropped the Express 6-1 in Coquitlam.

The win pulled Langley within three points of the Express for fourth place in the Mainland division and the final playoff spot. The Rivermen also have a game in hand on the Express.

The opening minutes started well for the Express. They peppered Langley goaltender James Barr with shots opening an early 8-2 advantage. They were physical on the forecheck and banging Rivermen bodies at every turn.

Malcom McKinney who played his first game in well over two months along with captain Mitch Nardi were notable for the number of hits they laid out.

But it was the visitors opening the scoring on the powerplay. Victor Dombrovskiy made a great cross ice pass to Ben Butcher who blasted it home on a one-timer past Cole Huggins.

And just after the Rivermen celebrations from the goal were dying down, they were celebrating again. Cole Huggins made two good saves on a scramble and finally on the third chance Derek Sutliffe found a loose puck and put it in the gaping net. The goal came just 19 seconds after the goal by Butcher.

In the blink of an eye the game had quickly turned in the visitors favour. The Express didn't let the quick slip up effect their game. They continued to press the Langley net now looking to get back into the game.

Phil Zielonka continued to do what he does best and that is score for the Express. He snapped home a powerplay goal from the slot at 15:13 to cut the Rivermen lead to 2-1. He now is riding a 19 game point streak with 18 goals and 11 assists for 29 points in that time after not registering a point in his first game with the Express. Just call him old faithful.

Both teams didn't show any signs of turkey legs with each team registering 15 shots in the first period.

Langley extended their lead on the powerplay in the second period. James Robinson took a feed on the left wing and cut in and slid a shot just inside the post and Huggins left skate to give Langley a 3-1 lead.

Another pair of quick goals added to the Rivermen lead early in the third period. Mario Puskarich and Mitch McLain scored 1:33 apart.

Former Express Evan Campbell rounded out the scoring wiring a rocket of a wrist shot over the shoulder of Huggins off the crossbar and in late in the third period.

Mario Puskarich, Evan Campbell and James Robinson each had multiple point nights. Not quite as dominant as the last time these two teams met before Christmas. Puskarich had 1 goal and 3 assists, and Robinson and Campbell each had a goal and an assist.

The Express did muster 47 shots on the night and James Barr was steady all night long in the Rivermen crease.

Special teams favoured Langley as they went 2 for 4 on the powerplay while the Express went 1 for 6.

The home and home between the two teams resumes Saturday night in Langley.

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