Garrett James Photography

Coquitlam Express win battle for first in the BCHL

The Coquitlam Express’ good fortunes at the Poirer this season continue. The Express extended their lead at the top of the BCHL standings with an emphatic victory over the Penticton Vees. With the 7-2 win, Coquitlam remains undefeated at home this season.

The game got off to a hot start, with Coquitlam and Penticton setting the tone of what was an incredibly physical contest right from puck drop.

Express forward Christian MacDougall took a penalty early on while trying to keep up the high pace physical style both teams were playing to begin the game, but was called for charging.

The physicality continued, and it was the Express dishing out the majority of the hits early on. The Vees answered, but the Express were clearly looking to take advantage of a tired Vees squad that played in Langley 24 hours before.

The fans at Poirer got their money’s worth, as Greg LaPointe opened the scoring for the Express early on with a shift in which he and his teammates were buzzing all throughout.

The two sides exchanged pleasantries at the end of the second period, with MacDougall once again getting right in the middle of things. Former Vees captain Massimo Rizzo also had a few choice words for the players on his former club. Rizzo was off to a hot start and kept it up all throughout.

The Express took advantage of a double minor early in the second frame, as it was Connor Gregga converting on a big rebound that came off of a shot by Rizzo to give the Express an early 3-0 lead. The Express had a two goal lead heading into the third period, and led in the shot department 17-15.

Penticton struggled to solve goaltender Clay Stevenson, and their frustrations boiled over early on in the third, and that’s where the game really went of the rails for Penticton (no pun intended). The Vees were called for a hit to the head penalty, then an instigating penalty and a fighting major. There was a lot of chirping, and there were two fights, both of which the Express players got the better of, especially the second one, where Cooper Connell dropped his Vees counterpart to the ice with a few emphatic blows.

Stevenson was denied his shutout bid against Vernon, which would have made him the all-time leader in shutouts for the Express. Stevenson allowed two goals in this game and is currently tied at five with Cole Huggins for all-time shutouts by an Express goaltender.

The Express proved on this night that they really are one of, if not the best team in the BCHL. They proved it to the Vees, and they proved to everybody who was scoreboard watching at home. This was a highly anticipated contest, and neither side disappointed.