Justin Rai and the Prince George Spruce Kings spoiled the Express home opener with a 5-3 win Friday night.
This contest had some similarities to the Express previous outing Saturday vs. Trail with the opposition getting a big night from a top player and a pretty hot power play. Justin Rai scored three times as did the Prince George power play.
Friday's contest set it self up to be a night to remember as the Express championship banners from last season along with the Express new uniforms were unveiled for the first time.
Coquitlam got their attack rolling two minutes in as Joey Santucci scored his first of the season snapping home a quick pass through the seam by Corey Mackin for the first of three power play goals for the Express.
The Express lone lead of the season through the first three games would last just 1:15 as Prince George scored their first power play goal of the night as Rai scored on a tap in at the side of the net set up of Jeremiah Luedtke and Chad Staley.
A back and forth first period saw the Spruce Kings open up a 2-1 lead when Marco Ballarin scored re-directing a point shot by Michael McEachern past Pierce Dushenko.
The Express man advantage had their reply 1:24 later as Brett Supinski scored his second of the season beating Jesse Jenks from the slot on a set up by Corey Mackin. Mackin was the most dangerous forward for the Express throughout the evening having a hand in some of the Express best scoring chances throughout the night.
Rai added his second of the game just past the two minute mark of the second period.
Again the Express power play had a response as Anthony Gardner scored his first BCHL goal in his 53rd career game blasting a rocket past Jesse Jenks.
This young season is teaching this Express team the hard way right now that mistakes can end up in your net at the BCHL level. A Daniel Fritz cross checking penalty quickly resulted in the third Prince George power play goal of the night as Taylor Allan scored through the legs of Dushenko with 36 seconds remaining in the third period.
Prince George finished 3 for 4 on the power play. To date the opposition has gone 9 for 16 on the power play with 8 of those goals coming in the last two contests.
The final frame saw the Express muster 13 shots to finish with a season high 39 in the contest but they weren't able to get any more pucks past Jenks and a solid defensive effort by a veteran Prince George team who locked the game down limiting the quality chances the Express were able to generate in the middle of the ice.
Justin Rai capped off his three goal game scoring into a gaping net after Jeremiah Luedtke cut off Pierce Dushenko's clearing attempt around the boards. The Spruce Kings top line of Rai, Luedtke and Chad Staley finished with a combined 3 goals and 4 assists for 7 points.
The result drops the Express to 0-3 when Prince George improves to 3-0 to start the season. The two teams will go at it again Saturday night in Coquitlam.
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