Thursday, December 7, 2017


Eric Linell took the first step to repeat as BCHL player of the week scoring the overtime winner as the Express defeated the BCHL's top team the Vernon Vipers 3-2 in overtime. Click here for boxscore

The win was the first road win for the Express in their 17th away game, and they posted consecutive victories for the first time this season. They're now 2-1-1 under Head Coach Jason Fortier.

The visitors looked a little sloppy in the opening minutes of the game. Then they settled into the game starting to generate their own chances.

Sam Kozlowski opened the scoring for the firing a wrist shot that deflected off the stick of a Vipers defenseman and past Anthony Yamnitski. That goal would be the first of a constant theme of the night of some slightly unconventional goals for both teams.

Injuries to the Express have seen them dress a few AP's in recent games. Nick Amsler dressed for his second straight game. Brayden Szabados meanwhile made his BCHL debut. They mostly played on a line with Jonathan Sheardown. When they were out there they gave the Express some valuable minutes.

Kozlowski struck again for the Express late in the second period. Again he caught a break. After taking a pass from John Sheardown, Kozlowski's shot from the slot bounced in off the stick of Vipers goaltender Yamnitski.

The lead for the Express held into the third period where things really got wild.

For the first 13 minutes of the period the Express were doing everything right to protect their lead. Then at 12:50 Vernon's Keyvan Mokhtari was called for cross checking. It was a great opportunity for the Express to put the game away.

Off the ensuing offensive zone draw the puck split the Express defense. That allowed Jesse Lansdell to pounce on the puck for a breakaway. He was given a slight hook then was awarded a penalty shot.

On the penalty shot Lansdell slid a backhand through the pads of Brock Hamm to get Vernon on the board with 7 minutes to go.

At the time the Express still had 1:50 of power play time remaining to at least re-store their two goal lead.

The Lansdell goal rattled the Express who never really set up on the power play. Then the puck was fired into the Express zone and Hamm was forced to race out of his net to clear the puck away from the oncoming Lansdell. The Vernon forward knocked down the clearing attempt and scored his second shorthanded goal of the night 1:20 after his penalty shot goal to tie the game at 2.

That goal capped off a period for Lansdell that saw him get shaken up earlier in the period on a pair of shot blocks.

At this time for an Express team that is still learning how to close out wins, let alone do it on the road against the league's top team this was their test.

In the final minute of the third period Josh Bruce was called for a check to the head penalty and was essentially done for the night with the minor penalty plus the automatic 10 minute misconduct.

The Express survived the final 15 seconds of regulation shorthanded. And the overtime intermission was a great time for the team to reset after blowing a two goal lead in dramatic fashion.

With 1:45 of power play time to open overtime at 4 on 3, the Vipers had no reason to rush to set up the perfect play to get the winner.

Vernon's patience may have actually played into the hands of the Express. Vernon worked the puck around, looking for the perfect chance and eventually the Express killed off the penalty.

Throughout the night Eric Linell just seemed to have the puck find his stick to create chances. They weren't going in for him in regulation. The puck found Linell's stick again in overtime. This time the BCHL's player of the week got a bounce only red hot players get as his shot went off the stick of a Vipers defenseman and past Yamnitsky giving the Express the 3-2 OT win.

For Linell it was his 7th goal in his last 5 games.

Brock Hamm turned aside 30 of the 32 shots sent his way to post his second consecutive win in the Express crease.

The Express return to action on Friday when they host the Chilliwack Chiefs. Then they will travel to Langley on Saturday night. 

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