Saturday, January 25, 2020


Graphic by Jacob Lazare.
For the first time in 19 seasons the Express can call themselves regular season Mainland division champions. It was clinched with a gritty 4-3 win over their long time rival Chilliwack Chiefs. Click here for boxscore

Massimo Rizzo - Photo courtesy of Damon James.
The win snapped the Express season high three game losing streak. And it was one of their more impressive wins of the 39 they have picked up this season.

The injury situation didn't change as there were still 6 regulars out of the lineup. But the ones that were in the line up made sure the effort level was high. And a number of guys even elevated their level to give their team a much needed boost.

Right from the get go the Express were ready to bring their best. They were playing hard and fast.

Just past the four minute mark Josh Wildauer snapped a shot past the glove of Mathieu Caron to open the scoring with his third goal in his last two games.

For the most part there weren't many mistakes in the Express game. One gaffe however ended up in their net. Clay Stevenson came out of his net to play the puck. He ended up putting a perfect pass on the tape of Brett Rylance who buried it into the empty net to tie the game at one.

The error didn't dissuade the Express on this night who showed plenty of poise and quickly shook it off.

Connor Gregga  - Photo courtesy of Damon James.
With four AP's in the lineup tonight they stepped up to help fill the void and leave their mark on the game for the Express.

Christian Lowe took a pass out of the corner from Tyler Schleppe and snapped home his first BCHL goal for a 2-1 Express lead after one period.

The visitors picked up their game to open the second period. Tommy Lyons beat Clay Stevenson on a backhand just past the five minute mark for a 2-2 tie.

Again the Express found offence from an unlikely source for their third lead of the night. Christian Lowe won a draw just as a powerplay expired and Brad Ong cut into the slot and snapped home his 9th of the season. For Ong it was his first goal in 17 games.

Most games between the Express and Chiefs this season have been tight contests. Why would Friday night be any different?

Nick Carabin  - Photo courtesy of Damon James.
With 30 seconds left in the period Hudson Thornton scored off the rush to even things at 3 through two periods.

Entering the third with a division crown at stake the Express showed the character that got them to this point. They were ready to have their best period of the night. Having so many guys out of the lineup wasn't going to be a factor.

AP defenceman Matthew Campbell did his part to help out early in the third with 4 good plays on one shift.

The deadlock was broken with just over 5 minutes to play with a good read by Nick Carabin to keep the puck in the Chiefs zone then fire it at the night where it was tipped by Ong for his second of the night putting the Express in the lead for good.

They locked the game down in the final five minutes to preserve the win and clinch their first regular season division championship. Clay Stevenson finished with 20 saves for his 28th win of the season.

Discipline was another key element to the Express success giving Chilliwack only two powerplays on the night. And none in the 2nd or 3rd periods.

The Express have the rest of the weekend off and will host Langley next Friday.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020


Prince George used 4 unanswered goals to rally for a 4-3 victory over the Express Wednesday afternoon.

For the the Express it was their second straight home loss and fourth set back in the last six games.

Injuries have certainly played a factor with Ethan O'Rourke, Greg Lapointe, Steven Bellini, Christian MacDougall, Danny Pearson and Ryan Tattle out of the lineup.

Even with a shortened bench, the chances were there for the Express. But the finish wasn't.

In the first period the finish was there for the Express. Cooper Connell came out of the penalty box and lobbed the puck into the Prince George zone where Will Margel hustled to it and tucked a backhand past Carter Woodside to open the scoring.

Late in the period Josh Wildauer found a loose puck in the crease and tucked home a powerplay goal for a 2-0 Express lead after 1.

The chances for the Express kept up in the second period. But that's when the offensive well began to run dry.

Then the mistakes began to creep into the Express game. Prince George took advantage of a neutral zone turnover and it wasn't long until Mason Reeves slid a backhand past Joe Howe.

Just over a minute later a hail mary clearing attempt out of the Express zone quickly allowed Prince George to come right back in and Nolan Welsh finished off a two on one to tie the game at two.

Late in the period a good shift in the Spruce Kings zone quickly turned into a three on one the other way and Nick Bochen snapped a shot over the glove of Howe for a 3-2 Spruce Kings lead heading to the third period.

The chances for the Express continued into the third. But it was the visitors with the finish. Nick Bochen's point shot was tipped home by Corey Cunningham opening up a 4-2 Spurce Kings lead just past the 5 minute mark.

Josh Wildauer sparked hopes of a dramatic comeback scoring his second of the game with 35 seconds to play to cut the lead to 4-3.

In the dying seconds the Express created scrambles at the Spruce Kings net but couldn't get the equalizer past Carter Woodside. He finished with 28 saves to pick up the win.

The home stand for the Express continues Friday when the Chiefs come to town. 

Sunday, January 19, 2020


Adam Trotman & Zach Borgiel - Photo courtesy of Damon James
The Cowichan Valley Capitals rode goaltender Zach Borgiel to the tune of 32 saves as the Capitals handed the Express their first home ice loss of the season in their 24th home game with a 2-1 win. Click here for boxscore

It was the first loss for the Express at home since game 3 of last years playoffs vs. Prince George to bring the 24 game home ice winning streak to an end.

Fireworks got the game off to a bang. Tyler Schleppe and Christian MacDougall started on the wings for the Express on the opening face-off and they were hacking with the Caps wingers lining up along side them forcing the officials to intervene before the game got started.

Then right off the bat Christian MacDougall was shoved into the corner boards and the Express forward was hurt on the play and didn't return.

Dan McIntyre was given a 5 minute major and a game misconduct for the check from behind on MacDougall.
Wyatt Head - Photo courtesy of Damon James
On the major penalty Cowichan opened the scoring taking advantage of a turnover at the Express blueline which allowed Olivier Gauthier to walk in on a breakaway where he slid a backhand past Jack Watson to open the scoring.

Wyatt Head pulled the Express even on the powerplay snapping his 2nd Express goal past Borgiel to tie the game at one just under three minutes later.

That set the stage for a fast pace and hard fought first period between two division leaders.

The game began to turn in the Caps favour in the second period as they began to force the Express into turnovers coming out of their zone.

Cowichan took the lead when Matthew Crasa pounced on the rebound of a Tanner Sidaway shot that Jack Watson couldn't handle with his glove.

Connor Gregga - Photo courtesy of Damon James
Jason Fortier wasted no time immediately pulling Watson in favour of Joe Howe after two Caps goals on 10 shots in just under 26 minutes of action. For Howe it was his first game action for the Express after being acquired from Victoria at the trade deadline.

Howe kept the Caps at bay the rest of the way finishing with 14 saves in 34 minutes.

The Express ramped up their level in the third period looking for the equalizer. But each time they were turned back by a dialed in Zach Borgiel. He finished with 20 saves in the third period to earn the win. In the dying seconds he got a little help as well as the Express on a scramble got the puck to the crease where the puck was tucked back into the pads of Borgiel by a teammate.

Prince George comes to Coquitlam Wednesday afternoon as the Express four game home stand resumes. 

Saturday, January 18, 2020


Chilliwack needed three goals in 5 rounds of the shootout to defeat the Express by a 4-3 score Friday night. Click here for boxscore

It was Chilliwack's second straight win over the Express in less than a week.

The Express did get a boost with the return to the lineup of Noah De La Durantaye after missing 17 games and nearly two months of action.

Coquitlam was looking for a better defensive effort after dropping a 6-1 set back in the Coliseum last Saturday. Certainly the quality chances for the Chiefs weren't as notable for the Chiefs on this night.

But one thing that continues to be a trend for Chilliwack is striking first. Friday it was Clark Nelson burying the rebound of a Nathan Kelly shot from the boards and sliding it past Clay Stevenson.

Cooper Connell has had a number of great chances this season in Chilliwack but has struggled to finish.

Early on he was unable to convert a Will Margel pass on a one timer chance. Connell did find the back of the net late in the period snapping a shot past Mathieu Caron's glove to tie the game at one.

The tie only lasted 44 seconds as Brett Rylance took a pass in stride and cut to the net tucking the puck through the pads of Clay Stevenson to make it a 2-1 game heading to the second period.

Chilliwack's powerplay has been deadly against the Express in the previous three meetings. The trend continued early in the second period. Tommy Lyons tipped a Cooper Moore shot for a 3-1 Chilliwack lead. At the time Chilliwack was 7 for their last 14 on the powerplay against the Express.

Christian MacDougall was given some extra opportunities for the Express Friday night. He found himself on the ice for a mid period powerplay. He paid off the coaches confidence by snapping home a Will Margel pass in the slot to make it a 3-2 Chilliwack lead.

That goal appeared to help spark the Express who started to play some of their best hockey of the night.

The third period saw special teams provide some vital moments in the game. Early on the Express killed off a penalty that carried over from the second period to keep the deficit at just one.

Just past the 6 minute mark Xavier Henry dropped Adam Trotman with a hit that left the Express forward woozy and he didn't return to the game. The hit sparked a scrum after the fact. When the dust settled Henry was given a 5 minute major and given an automatic game misconduct for the blow the head penalty. Henry could be facing a suspension after receiving the major. De La Durantaye was given a roughing penalty for his involvement in the scrum.

After two minutes of uneventful four on four hockey the Express had three minutes of powerplay time. They had lots of time with possession in the Chilliwack zone. They tried a number of times to set up Greg Lapointe for one timers, but the passes more often that not ended up in a spot that wouldn't allow Lapointe to unload a one timer.

With just over two minutes to go Greg Lapointe fired it at the net and Connor Gregga tipped it over the glove of Caron to tie the game at 3.

In overtime the best chance for either side was a breakaway for Nikita Nesterenko who tried to slide it through Stevenson's pads, but the Chilliwack native got enough of it to steer the shot wide and then the net eventually came off its supports.

This game ended up being the 4th time in the last 5 meetings that would go to a shootout.

After the first round went goalless things began to get interesting. Trevor Adams opened round two for Chilliwack. He snapped a shot glove side on Stevenson. The puck appeared to hit both posts and never go in the net, but Adams was awarded a goal.

Christian MacDougall pulled the Express even with his shot in round two.

Nikita Nesterenko and Will Margel traded goals in round 3. Margel's goal was his fourth shootout goal in four attempts against Caron.

Brett Willits and Connor Gregga were unable to score in round 4.

Brett Rylance opened round 5 by snapping the puck past Stevenson's glove putting the pressure on Greg Lapointe.

This time the Express leading goal scorer wasn't able to find the twine as his shot was gloved down by Caron to seal the win for Chilliwack.

The Express return home Sunday afternoon to kick off a four game home stand. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020


It was a close one all night, but the Express prevailed to go to 23-0 at home with a 2-1 win over the Surrey Eagles. Click here for boxscore

The opening 15 minutes of the first period saw the Eagles generate some quality scoring chances only to be shutdown by goaltender Jack Watson. Most notably Watson turned back Owen Nolan on a breakaway.

The Express got better as the first period wound down with more control of the play in the Eagles end of the rink.

They were rewarded late in the period when Massimo Rizzo ripped a wicked wrist shot under the bar to open the scoring.

As the second period got underway the Express appeared to have settled into their game. 5 minutes in James Bohn made a smart pinch to keep the puck on the zone getting it to Greg Lapointe who dished to Josh Wildauer to open a 2-0 Express lead.

The lead stood until the dying minutes of the third period when with goaltender Reece Klassen on the bench for Surrey, Hudson Schandor banked one in off the shoulder of Watson from below the goal line to cut into the Express lead.

From then on the Express clamped the game down the rest of the way to close out their 38th win of the season. Jack Watson would finish with 23 saves for his 9th win of the season.

The Express return to the site of where their 17 game winning streak came to an end the Chilliwack Coliseum Friday night. 

Monday, January 13, 2020


Highlights of the Express franchise record 37th win of the season 8-1 Sunday over Langley.

Highlights produced by Eddie Gregory. 

Sunday, January 12, 2020


Graphic by Jacob Lazare.
Joey Berkopec - Photo courtesy of Damon James
The Coquitlam Express had their franchise record winning streak snapped at 17 with a 6-1 loss in Chilliwack Saturday. They took their frustration out on the Langley Rivermen Sunday to the tune of an 8-1 win to set a franchise record for wins in a season with their 37th.  It breaks the previous mark held by the 2011-12 team. Click here for boxscore

The Express were looking to get back to some of their details defensively that has been a trademark of the team for a vast majority of the season.

Early on the Express looked dialed into that part of the game. They were quick getting out of their zone. That allowed them to spend more time pressing in Langley's end of the rink.

Langley's lack of discipline all afternoon long was capitalized on repeatedly by the Express with a season high of 5 powerplay goals.

The first of the night game off the stick of Ethan O'Rourke who scored from the slot with a shot over the shoulder of Jonathan Mor.

Langley tied it with a powerplay goal of their own with Tristan Fraser setting up Hunter McCoy who snapped it past Clay Stevenson. That would be the lone blemish on Stevenson who made 19 saves for his 19th consecutive win. The penalty killing the rest of the afternoon had a strong showing holding Langley to 1 for 8 on the powerplay.

By the time the final minute of the first period rolled around Langley's undisciplined play put the Express on the powerplay four times. Ethan O'Rourke tipped home a Will Margel pass at the edge of the crease for a 2-1 Express lead after 1.

Period two saw the Express break the game wide open. It started with Adam Trotman less than two minutes in snapping home a shot from the right wing for a 3-1 Express lead.

Cooper Connell from the top of the left circle snapped a screen shot past Mor for a 4-1 Express lead on the powerplay.
Photo courtesy of Damon James
Two minutes later Massimo Rizzo hustled to a bounce pass off the boards and scored a shorthanded breakaway goal opening up a 5-1 lead.

That goal chased Jonathan Mor after 5 goals on 18 shots in his Langley debut. Braedon Fleming came into the game and was rudely greeted into it just 25 seconds later by a goal from Connor Gregga whose shot was tipped through the pads of Fleming.

Adam Trotman ensured that Fleming would be beat on the first two shots he faced tipping home a Connor Gregga shot for Trotman's second of the night and the 4th powerplay goal of the game for the Express to make it 7-1 after two periods. The final four goals of the period came in a span of 3 minutes and 41 seconds. Gregga finished with a four point night with 1 goal and 3 assists.

Adam Trotman - Photo courtesy of Damon James
With the game lopsided in the third. All that was left seemed to be for the tempers to start to get short. The final frame featured three third period fights over the final 20 minutes. First was a big mans scrap between Ethan O'Rourke and Jake Livingstone.

That was followed a few minutes later with Adam Trotman finishing off his tilt with Sean Bunting by wrestling him to the ice. The final fight of the third period saw James Bohn trading blows with Hunter McCoy.

Wyatt Head who has looked very impressive in his first two games with the Express capped off the night by sending a one timer that eluded Fleming's glove for Head's first Express goal.

Sunday's result keeps the Express undefeated at home at 22-0. It ties another franchise record for most home wins in a season matching the 06-07 Express team.

The Express are back in action Wednesday night vs. Surrey.


3 months and a day was how long the Express had gone between losses. In between was a franchise record 17 game winning streak which came to an abrupt end with a 6-1 loss to the Chilliwack Chiefs.
Click here for boxscore

It didn't take long to see that it wasn't going to be the Express night. A neutral zone turnover allowed the Chiefs to quickly transition back into the Express zone and Brett Rylance snapped a shot over the glove of Jack Watson to open the scoring.

Five minutes later Peter Reynolds pounced on a James Bohn turnover behind the net and Reynolds snapped a pass to Nikita Nesterenko who buried the feed for a 2-0 Chilliwack lead. That goal would be the start of a big night for both Nesterenko and Reynolds.

Midway through the first period Mathieu Caron came to his right to deny Connor Gregga to keep the Express off the board.

A fast zone entry into the Express zone with the Chiefs on the powerplay and then a quick give and go saw Peter Reynolds bury his first of the night for a 3-0 Chilliwack lead.

Despite allowing three goals in the first period, Jack Watson made a number of notable saves in the first period to keep the deficit at just three after facing 16 first period Chillwack shots.

The quality chances for Chilliwack carried over into the second period and Watson continued to stand tall to keep the Chiefs at bay. His best save of the period denied Joey Larson on a breakaway.

The best chance for the Express in the middle frame was a Greg Lapointe shot on a powerplay that clanked off the crossbar and stayed out. The powerplay finished 0 for 5 on the night.

The Chiefs certainly made a concerted effort to be a little extra physical to test the Express mettle. Christian MacDougall was certainly very much engaged going back and forth in the hostilities with the Chiefs.

He started the third period in the box giving and Chilliwack opened the period on the powerplay.

Jack Watson did all he could in the opening seconds on a scramble to fight to keep the puck out of the net. But the Chiefs maintained possession of the puck and Tommy Lyons was set up in the slot where he extended the Chiefs lead to 4-0.

Just under two minutes later a stray pass in the offensive zone allowed Reynolds to go the other way on a breakaway where he scored his second of the night with a shot over the right shoulder of Watson to make it 5-0.

Wyatt Head made his Express debut Saturday night after being acquired from West Kelowna. He made a few notable plays in the defensive zone to help break up Chilliwack scoring chances.

Head midway through the third picked up his first Express point with a wrist shot that was tipped home by AP Nolan Wall who scored his first BCHL goal to break up Mathieu Caron's shutout bid. That would be the only puck of the 37 Express shots to get past Caron.

With just over three minutes left in the third period Peter Reynolds completed his first BCHL hat-trick poking a loose puck under Watson. Reynolds finished with 3 goals and 2 assists for 5 points. Nikita Nesterenko had a four point night with one goal and three assists.

The loss prevented the Express from setting a franchise record with their 37th win of the season. All 6 of the Express losses have come on the road this season.

The Express have little time to dwell on Saturday's setback as they return home Sunday afternoon to play host to the Langley Rivermen. 

Sunday, January 5, 2020


Clay Stevenson made a regular season career high 49 saves to truly earn his 18th straight win as the Express extended their winning streak to 16 games with a 5-4 win over the Vernon Vipers. Click here for boxscore

Early indications were that this would be a busy night for the Express goaltender. The Vipers were creating quality chances by getting to the dangerous areas of the ice.

Former Express Landon Fuller got behind the Express defence and from in tight slid the puck under Stevenson to open the scoring for the Vipers.

The visitors were without the services of forwards Massimo Rizzo and Will Margel due to illness. But defenceman Joey Berkopec made his Express debut Saturday. He was acquired earlier in the day from the Merritt Centennials in exchange for future considerations.

Christian MacDougall scored a powerplay goal in the dying seconds of the first period to tie the game at 1 despite the Express being outshot 15-6 in the first period.

Cooper Connell took advantage of a miscue in the opening minute of the second period and scored on a breakaway tucking the puck past Rielly Herbst giving the Express their first lead of the night.

Just under two minutes later Greg Lapointe ripped a wicked wrist shot home for his team leading 23rd of the season extending the Express lead to 3-1.

With a two goal lead in hand the Express let Clay Stevenson try to handle it the rest of the way.

But for as good as Clay Stevenson has been, he can only do so much to hold off mistakes in front of him.

The 2nd period he was peppered with 19 Vernon shots turning aside 17 of them.

Vernon's two goals came when Jojo Tanaka-Campbell burst into the Express zone with speed and got past the Express defence then tucked in just his second of the season.

Then with a minute to go in the second period an Express turnover in their zone quickly ended up in their net on a goal by Dawson Holt who was able to barely get the puck over the goal line past Clay Stevenson for a 3-3 tie after 40 minutes.

One thing we've learned over the course of this winning streak for the Express, is they find ways to dig deep and battle with what they have despite not being at their best. And with key bodies out of the lineup. Saturday's game was the most notable example of that.

Clay Stevenson stood tall again in the third period as the Vipers sent another 19 shots his way. His play kept the belief alive for the Express that they could pull this one out.

A seeing eye shot by Adam Trotman was tipped by Tyler Schleppe with just over 6 minutes to play put the Express in the a 4-3 lead.

But this game wasn't going to end without some final drama. A Vipers won face-off deep in the Express zone resulted in Landon Fuller snapping home his second of the night with 2:45 to play to make it a 4-4 game.

Then the Express big man Ethan O'Rourke who may be a candidate for unsung hero, put the Express in the lead for good with his 13th of the season just 55 seconds later.

Stevenson held on the rest of the way to secure the 35th win of the season. His 49 saves surpasses the 46 he made in February of 2018 which was his previous regular season best total.

The three game island division road trip concludes Sunday afternoon in Salmon Arm.