|Graphic by Jacob Lazare.|
For Stevenson, his 6th career regular season shutout passes Cole Huggins for the most all time in Express history. His 4th shutout this season ties Matthew Gordon for most in a single season. It was also his 29th win of the season which tied Kevin Jebson for most wins in a season by a goaltender in Express history.
Langley came out hitting trying to set an early tone. Most notably Massimo Rizzo was on the receiving end of a double team hit in the neutral zone. But it would be long until Langley wasn't able to keep up with the Carolina Hurricanes pick.
Joey Berkopec opened the scoring for the Express just past the 5 minute mark snapping a shot over the glove of Braedon Fleming. For Berkopec it was his first goal in an Express uniform since being acquired from Merritt.
Massimo Rizzo had been very dangerous in the last few games for the Express. But he wasn't getting the pay off by finding the back of the net with the hard work he was putting in to generate chances.
Tonight he broke through. Just past the 11 minute mark he converted a Greg Lapointe pass tipping home his first of the night. The goal chased Fleming after just two goals on four shots.
Greg Lapointe and Danny Pearson both returned to the lineup after missing time with injuries. Lapointe's impact was immediate as he had a number of good chances in the first period.
Jonathan Mor came in the Langley net following the 2-0 goal. Late in the period he had no chance handing a wicked Rizzo wrist shot for a 3-0 Express lead after one.
Danny Pearson had his share of chances during the night in his return to the lineup. He picked up an assist in his return with a shot that wound up in the feet of Mor and was tucked home in the goal crease by Brad Ong. It was the third goal in the last two games for Ong.
Stevenson only had to make 6 saves in the second period. But he got some help in the period to keep Langley off the board when a loose puck in the crease that Stevenson couldn't find right away was cleared just as Stevenson found the puck and was in the process of covering it.
In the third, not only did Stevenson had to fight off Langley shooters. He had to endure a few collisions in the crease. The second one he had Sean Bunting hit on top of the Express goaltender as Noah De La Durantaye hustled back to get into the play and levelled the Langley forward.
The contact didn't deter the Express goaltender in his pursuit of his 4th shutout of the season.
Rizzo meanwhile had his share of chances in the second period to get his 3rd of the night. Then when he was not trying to finish off the hat-trick he was able to cap it off. On a two on one with Nick Carabin, Rizzo's pass for the Express defenceman ended up going in off a Langley defenceman for Rizzo's second hat-trick of the season.
Friday's game was loaded with penalties. The Express were 0 for 9 on the powerplay. But they were a perfect 8 for 8 on the penalty kill. Friday's effort will move the Express back into the top spot in the overall BCHL penalty killing rankings.
Saturday will see the Express hit the road for their lone visit of the season to Wenatchee.