Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Reid Cooper & Cal Babych - Photo courtesy of Damon James
The Express snapped a four game losing skid in dramatic fashion on a Blake Hayward last minute goal to give the Express a 3-2 win over the West Kelowna Warriors.

Prior to Wednesday the Express had been shutout in three of their last four games.

The Express were still missing six regulars out of the lineup. But they were helped with the return of Jake Brien from a four game suspension. And Cal Babych made his Express debut. The former WHLer had his BCHL rights acquired by the Express earlier this week from the Chilliwack Chiefs for future considerations.
Reid Cooper made 36 saves - Photo courtesy of Damon James

The teams were scoreless after the first period. Reid Cooper turned aside all 10 Express shots in the opening minute.

The newest member of the Express was acquired in part to help a team that was in need of someone who can help chip in with some offense. He made his mark in early in the 2nd period driving to the net and burying the rebound of a Sam Kozlowski shot.

That goal gave the Express some much needed confidence. It carried into their power play less than a minute later. Luca Leone doubled the Express lead when he ripped home a wrist shot after taking a good cross ice pass for a 2-0 Express lead.

Parm Dhaliwal cut the Express lead in half bouncing the puck in off Express netminder Reid Cooper for just over two minutes after the Luca Leone goal.

It was the second period where the Warriors really started to throw pucks at the Express net looking for the equalizer but they were turned back by Reid Cooper. The Express goaltender had another strong outing in the Express crease. He saw plenty of pucks. But the efficiency in his style gave West Kelowna very few rebound opportunities. And he was content throughout the night to hold onto plenty of pucks and have face-offs in the Express end. Cooper finished with 20 saves in the 2nd period.

And that transitions to where Barry Wolff leaned heavily in his veterans in this game. For most of the defensive zone draws in this game more often than not it was the line of Luca Leone, Alex Ambrosio and Blake Hayward to take those key face-offs. They did a lot of the dirty work in the Express zone to prevent the Express from running around in their own zone for prolonged periods of time.

In addition to the work of Leone, Ambrosio and Hayward, the Express also got a boost with the return of defenseman Jake Brien after serving a four game suspension. He played a key role to help support Cooper with a number of shot blocks throughout the night.

Sam Kozlowski - Photo courtesy of Damon James
Braiden Epp pulled the Warriors even 90 seconds into the third period. But that goal didn't phase the Express. They were glad to just be in the game heading into the third period.

When a team is struggling, all they want is a chance to win at the end. The Express work on this night put them in a perfect position to do so.

They got the break they needed to win the game in the final seconds. A West Kelowna change gone wrong put the Warriors in a spot to not touch the puck to avoid a too many men penalty which allowed Blake Hayward to pounce on the puck on a breakaway and he snapped it between the pads of Xaiver Burghardt with 17 seconds left in the third period to give the Express the lead for good.

Reid Cooper turned aside 36 of 38 Warrior shots for his fourth win of the season.

The Express will continue their five game home stand when the Wenatchee Wild will make a return visit Friday night.

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