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Coquitlam Express ground Eagles in exhibition opener

The Coquitlam Express opened its BC Hockey League exhibition season with a 6-4 win over the Surrey Eagles on Monday.
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The Coquitlam Express opened its BC Hockey League exhibition season Monday with a 6-4 win over the Surrey Eagles. It was the teams' first meeting since the league's pod season last March. | Mario Bartel, Tri-City News

Matthew Campbell scored a pair of goals and Connor Mackenzie stopped 37 shots to lead the Coquitlam Express to a 6-4 win over Surrey in the team's first of six pre-season games.

The BC Hockey League (BCHL) exhibition tilt took place Monday afternoon (Sept. 20) at the South Surrey Arena.

Campbell’s first goal, at 11:48 of the second period, proved to be the game-winner, while his second, after 8:06 had been played in the final frame, provided insurance against the Eagles.

He also assisted on Austin Montgomery-Parsons’ first-period goal that put the Express up 2-1.

After the game, Express coach Brandon Shaw praised his prolific defenceman. 

"Campbell played a 200-foot game and helped us in many ways," he said. "He chipped in on the scoresheet and he was fantastic in transition and on the breakouts."

Rocco La Cara got the Eagles back on even terms 2:22 into the second frame, but Coquitlam responded by scoring the next three goals, including Campbell’s winner. Brody Juck and Jaeger Murdock also scored.

Coquitlam’s Dante Berrettoni opened the scoring 3:29 into the first period, with an assist from Juck.

Berrettoni also added a pair of helpers, as did Ian Devlin.

Mackenzie faced 41 shots in the Express net — 17 of them in the third period — to earn his first win in a BCHL game.

The Toronto product previously played for the Whitby Fury in the Ontario Junior Hockey League where he had a 3.45 goals-against average in 35 games.

"It was good to see Connor Mackenzie stand tall for us in the third period when we needed him," Shaw said.

Coquitlam fired 22 shots at the Eagles’ keepers Eli Pulver and Angeo Basson.

The Express play the Langley Rivermen tonight (Sept. 21), 7:15 p.m. at the George Preston Arena.

The team’s first exhibition game on home ice is Wednesday (Sept. 22), 7 p.m. when the Merritt Centennials visit the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex.

Admission is free, but fans must show their vaccination cards to get in. Attendance will be capped at 50 per cent capacity and masks must be worn at all times.