Express bigger, stronger with new players

Coquitlam Express forward Zachary Pryzbek carries the puck during a B.C. Hockey League game against the Trail Smoke Eaters at the Poirier Sports and Leisure Complex last Saturday. The Express won the game 7-1.   - ROBERT MCDONALD PHOTO
Coquitlam Express forward Zachary Pryzbek carries the puck during a B.C. Hockey League game against the Trail Smoke Eaters at the Poirier Sports and Leisure Complex last Saturday. The Express won the game 7-1.

The Coquitlam Express started the season with a roster loaded with speedy, skilled players.

But now the team is looking to shed its reputation for being intimidated with the addition of three new players the club hopes will bolster its blue line and force opponents to keep their heads up in the neutral zone.

Late last week the Express announced it would be acquiring defenceman Bradley Ryan from the Prince George Spruce Kings in exchange for Jace Hennig and Matt Begert.

Ryan, who now leads Coquitlam’s defence corps with five goals and 10 assists in 22 games with Prince George, has already proven to be an asset for the Express, after racking up three assists in his first two games with the club. The 20-year-old will be joined on the blueline with another newcomer, Michael Maciag, who was acquired from the Carleton Place Canadians.

Coquitlam has also bolstered its front end, with the acquisition of Travis Stephens, a Victoria native who was recently released by the Cowichan Capitals.

Stephens wasted no time moving into the enforcer role, engaging in a fight with Matt Anholt during a 4-2 win over West Kelowna last week.

The Express, who were on a five-game losing skid prior to the acquisitions, now appears to have righted the ship, with the only loss in the last five games coming at the hands of the Surrey Eagles last Friday night.

The Eagles jumped out to a two goal lead early in the first, including a power play goal from Demic Hannoun.

Coquitlam was able to get on the board in the second period when Philip Zielonka buried a pass from John Siemer but Surrey quickly responded with a third goal of their own.

Siemer was able to bring it within one on the power play before the end of the middle frame but the Express offence dried up after that. The only goal in the third period came off the stick of Surrey’s Jordan Klimek, and the Eagles went on to win 4-2.

The team followed up the next night with a dominating 7-1 win over the Trail Smoke Eaters.

After Stephens opened the scoring the Express flooded their opponents net with pucks, scoring six more unanswered markers before Trail could get on the baord.

The visitor’s lone goal came midway through the final period on the power play.

Stephens, who finished the night with two goals, was named second start of the game.

The team’s winning streak continued Wednesday night when the club defeated the Chiliwack Chiefs 3-2 at Prospera Centre in the Fraser Valley.

Chilliwack took an early 1-0 lead but three unanswered goals in the middle frame, including a shorthanded marker from Brandon Morley, helped the Express notch the win. Coquitlam goalie Cole Huggins was named first star of the game after turning away 44 of the 46 shots he faced.

The club will head up north for two games against the Prince George Spruce Kings before returning home next week to play Powell River at the Poirier Sports and Leisure Centre.

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