Coquitlam Express rocket up national rankings

The Coquitlam Express have rocketed up from 20th to 12th place in the rankings of the top 20 Junior A hockey teams in Canada after a pair of road wins last weekend. The team was previously ranked 20th.

A 2-1 victory over the Surrey Eagles last Friday, and a 4-1 defeat of the Langley Rivermen on Saturday boosted the Express to 10 wins and just two losses in 12 games, good enough for first place in the BC Hockey League’s Mainland division. They’re two points ahead of the Chilliwack Chiefs, who’ve played three more games.

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Saturday in Langley, Connor Gregga scored a goal and added two assists on a pair of third-period goals by Greg Lapointe to lead Coquitlam to its third straight win and the Rivermen’s first loss in five games. Tyler Schleppe scored the other goal. 

Clay Stevenson stopped 25 of the 26 shots he faced in Coquitlam’s net, including several key saves in the first period when the Rivermen carried the play but emerged with a 2-0 deficit. It was the veteran goalie’s fourth game this season in which he surrendered just a goal or less.

Against the Eagles on Friday, it was Gregga again who stoked Coquitlam’s offence. He scored a goal and set up linemate Massimo Rizzo’s game-winner 14:17 into the second period at the South Surrey Arena. 

Gregga was also active away from the puck, getting into a skirmish later in the period shortly after Surrey’s Sean Ramsey halved the Express’s advantage on a powerplay. He then got ejected midway through the third period for a fight with Cody Schiavon of the Eagles.

Stevenson stopped 22 shots to earn the win for Coquitlam.

The Express make another visit to the Rivermen at George Preston Arena on Friday before returning home to play the Powell River Kings, Sunday, 3 p.m. at the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex.

• The Penticton Vees, who lead the BCHL standings with 22 points, slipped from first to second in the latest Canadian Junior Hockey League rankings. The Salmon Arm Silverbacks also moved into the top 20; they're ranked 16th.

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