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Express offence sputters on road swing
The Coquitlam Express were hit by a power outage during a weekend swing through the Okanagan.
The B.C. Hockey League’s most potent offence could manage only three goals during a pair of losses on the road.
The Express fell 3-1 to the Vipers Saturday night in Vernon.
“We definitely played real well, it was a gutsy effort from our guys,” said coach Barry Wolff, whose Express fought to a scoreless draw in the first and were tied 1-1 heading into the third.
“We had our chances to score, we just couldn’t get it past their guy.”
Austin Smith made 31 saves in the Vipers net as Coquitlam outshot the home team 32-19. Pierce Dushenko took the loss for the Express.
“We had a few breakaways that we didn’t score on, we had a couple where we drove wide and cut in and he stopped those. We just couldn’t solve him,” said Wolff.
Brett Mulcahy netted the winner two minutes into the third, adding an insurance marker into an empty net in the dying seconds. Jace Hennig had the lone goal for the Express.
The Express opened the road trip with a 7-2 loss to the West Kelowna Warriors Friday night.
“Right off the bat, their first goal went off our defenceman’s skate and their second goal they threw it in front and it went off a shin pad and then their third goal came from the blue-line, a screen shot. So all of a sudden, four minutes in, we’re down three-zip,” said Wolff.
Marc Biega scored in the final minute of the opening frame and Canon Pieper scored midway through the second as the Express battled back to make it 4-2.
“Then we missed an empty net and a breakaway that could have made it 4-3 or even 4-4,” said Wolff. “Then they got a lucky one off an odd-man rush to make it 5-2 and we just kind of struggled from there.”
The Warriors outshot the Express 40-32 with Gordie Defiel making 33 saves.
Wolff was looking to add a little grit to his lineup at the BCHL trading deadline. He bolstered the Express’ blue-line by obtaining Mark Whiteley from the Salmon Arm SilverBacks in exchange for future considerations and picking up J.D. Cotroneo from the North American Hockey League.
“We always wanted to upgrade there,” said Wolff. “We went after kids that we knew were good kids and had strong character.”
Whiteley has one goal and nine points in 37 games with the SilverBacks and racked up seven goals and 30 points last year with the Langley Rivermen.
“Whitely has been in the league for three years. He’s just solid defensively and he’s got some offence too. He’s a huge addition.”
Cotroneo — a 6’1” 200-lb. native of Woodbury, Minn. — played 41 games in the NAHL last year with the Topeka Roadrunners, Aberdeen Wings and Soo Eagles.
“He’s a solid defenceman too. He bring a little bit of everything. He’s experienced, he’s played in the USHL. He’s a seasoned veteran,” said Wolff. “These guys bring just that element to be able to stabilize the back end for us.”
The Express earlier acquired winger Brendan Lamont from the Penticton Vees in exchange for the rights to forward Michael Rebry.
Lamont has compiled seven goals and 20 points in 44 games this year with Penticton and the Trail Smoke Eaters.
“He again brings grit and energy and determination. He’ll add some secondary scoring but he’s not going to get 50,” said Wolff.
The Express are back in action Wednesday when the host the Surrey Eagles at 7 p.m. Coquitlam currently has 40 points in 40 games to hold down third place in the BCHL’s Mainland Division, four points up on the Eagles.