Thereâ€™s something about Game 6s that bring out the best of the Coquitlam Express.
The B.C. Hockey League team withstood a bruising, desperate charge by the Langley Rivermen on Friday and pulled out a heroic 5-3 victory to capture the Mainland Division playoff title at the Poirier Sports Centre.
The loss ended the Rivermenâ€™s season.
Planted at the crease during a hectic third period, wingers Jace Hennig and Canon Pieper redirected shots behind Langley netminder Brock Crossthwaite to turn a one-goal deficit into a lead with seven minutes left.
The team then successfully clamped down on the Rivermenâ€™s vaunted forecheck and kept the slot clear, en route to a berth into the leagueâ€™s three-team round robin tournament that will decide the league finalists.
â€œWe persevered all year, I canâ€™t say enough about how theyâ€™ve never given up and never quit and stuck together,â€ said Express coach and general manager Barry Wolff. â€œIâ€™m proud of them.â€
Being that they were seeded ninth-best among 12 teams to start the post-season â€“ and Langley was ranked first â€“ Coquitlam has demonstrated twice that theyâ€™re stoked for any challenge. They opened the playoffs by besting Prince George in six games.
In a contest where Langley was facing elimination for a second straight night, the two squads took turns carrying the play in a very entertaining Game 6.
The Express led 2-1 after 20 minutes, thanks to markers by Ryan Rosenthal and Brendan Lamont that were sandwiched around a Mitch McLain tally that briefly tied the game.
While the Rivermen held a solid edge in shots over the opening frame, outshooting Coquitlam 14-8, the middle stanza was fairly equal but Langley turned the tables on the score sheet with a pair of powerplay goals. Coming just 24 hours after they thoroughly dominated the Express on Langley ice, the visitors may have felt that momentum was solidly in their pocket. The Express werenâ€™t about to concede it, however.
Rivermen 5, Express 2
Being back on their real home ice seems to have been a lucky charm for the Langley Rivermen in Game 5, as they staved off elimination with a 5-2 win over the Coquitlam Express Thursday.
The Rivermen went into the match down three games to one following games on the Expressâ€™s home ice and at the George Preston Recreation Centre, due to scheduling conflicts at the Langley Events Centre.
Back in their old home, the Rivermen started the scoring and stayed ahead throughout the game, peppering the Expressâ€™s goal with shots.
Will Cook opened the scoring, banking a shot from behind the goal line off Express goaltender Gordie Defiel and into the net just 4:27 into the first period.
The Express tied the game with a shorthanded goal from Ryan Rosenthal, but Gage Torrel regained the lead just two minutes later, tipping in a Zach Urban shot.
The Rivermen were dominant in the second period, with Tyson Witala and Tanner Johnson both scoring, increasing the lead to 4-1 heading into the third period.
Zach Hodder gained some ground for the express with his goal early in the third, but it would prove to be the high water mark for the team.
Jakob Reichert scored the final goal of the game for the Rivermen.