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Piepers get ready to take Coquitlam Express into third round
Moving to the other side of the continent to play hockey in a new town with a new team can be a demanding change for a young athlete.
Luckily for Bo and Canon Pieper, the two brothers did not have to do it alone.
The Coquitlam Express forwards have been playing junior hockey together for the last few years, starting out with the Indiana Ice in the USHL before catching the attention of Coquitlam coach Barry Wolff.
The move to the Tri-Cities has been beneficial for the Minnesota natives, who have been quietly piling up points since they arrived at the beginning of the regular season. The duo’s scoring output has not tapered off since the beginning of the post-season, and Wolff credits some of the team’s success to the Pieper brothers.
“They have above average work ethic,” he told The Tri-City News. “They compete hard. Bo has probably got one of the top shots in the league… I just can’t say enough about them.”
The duo’s point production has also been crucial to Coquitlam’s success this season.
During the regular season, 19-year-old Bo racked up 27 goals and 32 assist, while his older brother Canon, 20, scored 33 goals and 33 assists.
The points have kept coming in the post-season, with Bo notching eight, while Canon has scored seven.
“[The team] has been playing solid all around,” said Canon. “We have been able to score goals. We have been playing better defensively. When you mix goals and defence together you get good results.”
There have been no easy series for the Express so far in the post season.
After knocking off the higher-seeded Prince George Spruce Kings in the first round of the BCHL playoffs — a series that saw the team deal with an arduous travel schedule — the Express had to face the league-leading Langley Rivermen in the second.
It only took six games for Coquitlam to take down the top team and the club is now looking at a three-team third- round series against the Vernon Vipers and the Victoria Grizzlies. The two teams with the top record following the round-robin games will play each other for the BCHL final.
Coquitlam has played both teams this season and Canon said Vernon is a more physical squad, while Victoria is a more skilled team.
Regardless, the Pieper brothers said they will take on the next few weeks the same way they have managed their entire junior careers: one game at at time.
It is a mantra they follow as they work their way up the ranks, from the USHL to the BCHL and to the NCAA next year, when they are expected to play for the Quinnipiac Bobcats, a division one school in Connecticut.
Once again, they will be packing up and heading to their new team together.
“It makes the transition a lot easier,” said Bo. “Even on the ice. I’ve been playing with him for so long. I know his tendencies. It makes changing teams and changing towns a lot easier.”
The pair hope they can continue playing together beyond college, working their way to the American Hockey League and maybe even the NHL.
“Playing junior, the goal is to get a college scholarship,” said Bo. “We were fortunate enough to do that. Hopefully, the next goal is the AHL or something after that.”
But for now, they said they are focused on Vernon and Victoria and finishing the season with a BCHL championship banner.