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Express drop a pair during Prince George swing
A winter bus trip to Prince George can be a rough ride at the best of times, but a couple of bad bounces proved too much for the Coquitlam Express.
Coquitlam fell 3-2 to the Spruce Kings Saturday night. The Express fought back to tie the game up 2-2 heading into the third period but Justin Rai netted the winner with his second of the night with nine minutes remaining.
“Their third goal was a scrum in the corner. I don’t know exactly what happened, we were trying to clear it behind the net and it hit the side of the net and then bounced in front and then it hit a skate and went in. It’s just a frustrating way to lose,” said Express coach Barry Wolff. “Any loss is tough I guess, it’s just frustrating.”
Prince George outshot the Express 39-29 with Gordie Defiel turning aside 36 shots.
Canon Pieper and Ryan Rosenthal scored for the Express. Rosenthal returned to the lineup Friday night after the Express captain missed seven games with a partially collapsed lung.
“What he brings, you just can’t replace,” said Wolff.
Rosenthal had one goal in a 7-4 loss in Prince George Friday night.
The Express kept things close through most of the game, with the score knotted 1-1 after one and 2-2 after the second period.
“It was tied and then we scored two goals on ourselves. That rink is real small and the bounces off the back wall and the glass,” said Wolff. “They just shot one in and our d-man went skating towards our net and it came off the partition and went off his glove and in the net. Right after that, our d-man was standing in front and they just threw it to the net and it hit his skate and went in.”
The Spruce Kings’ five-goal third-period outburst included three in a two-minute stretch.
“It was kind of bizarre but the two bad ones there are what killed us. The seventh one was an empty-netter,” said Wolff.
Zach Hodder, Canon Pieper and Mark Whiteley had the other Express goals, with Adam Rockwood chipping in a pair of assists. Defiel made 28 saves as Prince George outshot Coquitlam 35-34.
Coquitlam now sits in third place in the Coastal Conference with 51 points in 50 games, five points up on the Surrey Eagles and 10 back of Prince George.
“We just have to get back to basics. It’s not like we played bad those two games, we just didn’t get the bounces,” said Wolff.
The Express will be in Powell River Friday to take on the Kings before heading to Victoria to face off with the Grizzlies on Saturday. Coquitlam will complete its Island swing Sunday with a 2 p.m. matinee against the Cowichan Capitals.
“They’re three good teams. Powell River and Victoria are one and two on their side and Cowichan is fighting for that last spot so it’s going to be three really tough games,” said Wolff.
Coquitlam’s Adam Rockwood has committed to playing NCAA hockey next year with the University of Wisconsin.
The hometown Coquitlam product leads the BCHL with 51 assists on the season and will head to college for the coming season. Rockwood’s 62 points put him fifth overall in league scoring.
The 5’10”, 175-lb forward is the eighth Express player to accept a scholarship. Ryan Rosenthal has accepted a scholarship to Northeastern while Canon and Bo Pieper will play next year for Quinnipiac. Corey Mackin has committed to Ferris State, Jace Hennig to Merrimack, Cameron Marks to New Hampshire and Cody Boyd to Army.
Rockwood will join current rival Matt Ustaski of the Langley Rivermen with the Badgers next season.