Port Moody’s Ryan Tattle scored twice and added an assist to lead the Coquitlam Express to a 5-1 win over the Merritt Centennials Wednesday (Sept. 22) at the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex.
It was the team’s third straight win in as many games in the BC Hockey League’s (BCHL) pre-season and its first in front of hometown fans in more than 17 months.
After a scoreless first period, Austin Montgomery-Parsons got Coquitlam on the board 6:13 into the second frame when he jumped on a loose puck and got it past Merritt goalie Colton Phillip-Watts.
The Centennials tied it up less than two minutes later on a power-play goal by Wyatt Marlow.
It was only a few minutes later Tattle went to work, setting up Arlo Merritt on a pretty passing play to restore the Express lead.
The 20-year-old veteran then scored 30 seconds into the third period on a breakaway and added another 3:58 into the frame to put Coquitlam up 4-1.
Emmett McHardy rounded out the scoring with his second of the pre-season with two minutes left to play.
Connor Mackenzie stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced in the Express net to earn his second victory of the pre-season, while his teammates fired 28 shots at Merritt keeper Phillip-Watts.
Coquitlam general manager Tali Campbell said the team’s first home game since March 2020, when the league shut down the playoffs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, came with a few organizational hiccups as volunteers and game day staff shook off the rust. But, he added, the implementation of public health protocols that include a requirement for fans to produce their vaccine passport for entry and to wear masks when they’re in the building went smoothly.
“The fans were fantastic,” he said. “The things I thought were going to be issues weren’t issues.”
The Express host the Surrey Eagles Friday (Sept. 24) at 7 p.m. and the Langley Rivermen visit next Wednesday (Sept. 29) before closing out the pre-season Oct. 1 in Chilliwack.