Danol's hat trick leads Express to playoff win

Chase Danol scored three goals, which was all the Coquitlam Express needed to defeat the Prince George Spruce Kings 3-0 Tuesday at the Poirier Sports and Leisure Complex. The win means the teams will return to Prince George Thursday for Game Five of their BC Hockey League opening round playoff series.

The win put a stop to Coquitlam's 13 game losing streak in the playoffs, but the Spruce Kings still lead the series 3-1.

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Playing with the kind of desperation they lacked in Monday’s 5-2 loss, the Express pressed the forecheck all night, creating several scoring chances off turnovers. And when play went the other way, Clay Stevenson was a wall in the Coquitlam net. He stopped all 31 shots he faced to earn his first career post-season shutout.

After a scoreless and sometimes scrambley first period, Danol finally broke through with his first goal of the playoffs midway through the second period. And what a thing of beauty it was as Prince George defenders coughed up the puck under heavy pressure along the boards in their own end to Troy Robillard at the blueline, who fed it to Danol to execute a trio of toe drags before outlasting Spruce Kings’ keeper Logan Neaton with a backhander to the short side.

The Spruce Kings almost tied it just before the horn to end the second period, but Coquitlam defence man Pito Walton batted from mid-air a lofting puck that threatened to drop behind Stevenson.

Danol scored his second goal on a power play, as he banked a shot from behind the Prince George net 4:37 into the third period.

Danol then completed his hat trick with an empty net goal in the game’s waning moments.

If the Express are able to force a sixth game in the series by getting another win Thursday, it will be played Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. at the Poirier Sports and Leisure Complex. Game seven, if necessary, would be played Monday in Prince George.

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