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Coquitlam Express move into fourth place, but the team's playoff picture is still a bit fuzzy

The Express closes out its regular season schedule with two home games next weekend.
The Coquitlam Express defeated the Nanaimo Clippers for the first time in four games this season, 4-2, Sunday at the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex.

Heading into the final weekend of the BC Hockey League's (BCHL) regular season, the Coquitlam Express could still finish as high as third place in the Coastal division standings.

The Express moved into fourth place Sunday (March 19) with a 4-2 win over the Nanaimo Clippers at the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex.

Coquitlam has 61 points in 52 games while fifth-place Victoria has 60 points.

Each has two games remaining to determine which would have home ice advantage in a possible opening round playoff series between the two teams,

But if the Express wins both of its remaining games next weekend and the Alberni Valley Bulldogs lose its last game — which is against the Grizzlies — Coquitlam could still end up in third place while Victoria could yet fall to sixth.

Against the division-leading Clippers, the Express bounced back from conceding a goal after just 37 seconds to carry a 2-1 lead into the third period.

Nanaimo’s Jérémie Payant tied it after 2:41 had been played in the final frame but Ray Hamlin’s goal with 3:41 left in regulation time proved to be the winner. Emmett McHardy then clinched Coquitlam’s 27th win of the season — and first over the Clippers — when he scored into an empty net 19 seconds before the final buzzer.

Express goalie Brady Smith stopped 24 shots to earn his second straight win over the weekend while his teammates fired 34 shots at Nanaimo goalie Shane Shelest.

Coquitlam closes out its regular season schedule at home next weekend with games against the Cowichan Valley Capital at 7 p.m. Friday (March 24) and the Powell River Kings at 3 p.m. Sunday (March 26).