The Coquitlam Express made an emphatic statement it’s the best team in the BC Hockey League with a 7-2 win over the Penticton Vees, Wednesday at the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex.
The victory vaulted the Express back to the top of the league standings, a point ahead of Penticton, which had briefly held sole claim to first place after a 4-3 win over the Langley Rivermen on Tuesday. Coquitlam has played one less game than the Okanagan team.
The Express led 1-0 after the first period and 3-1 after 40 minutes, then broke the game wide by scoring three goals in less than two minutes midway through the final frame.
Greg Lapointe and Bradley Ong each scored a pair of goals to lead Coquitlam’s offence. Lapointe also added an assist.
Connor Gregga, Ethan O’Rourke and Christian MacDougall also scored for the home team, which outshot the visitors 31-27. Clay Stevenson stopped 25 shots in the Express net.
David Silye and Tyler Ho scored for the Vees.
The game had a bit of a playoff buzz that erupted in the third period when Gregga squared off with Penticton's Connor Hutchinson and Cooper Connell battled Danny Weight in seperate fights.
Express captain Drew Cooper said both teams were keyed up for the game, not only because of their positions in the standings, but it was also their first meeting since a high-profile trade last summer sent Alex Di Paolo to the Vees in exchange for Massimo Rizzo.
"There's some tension there," he said. "We were all ready to go and in a good mindset."
Rizzo, who notched a pair of assists, said by the time he and his teammates were able to settle their adrenalin, they had already taken control of the game.
"Once we got comfortable, we just played our game," he said. "We got up early and started to roll from there."
The win also extended Coquitlam's perfect record on home ice this season to 13 games. The team will try to extend that to 14 straight wins on Friday, when the Surrey Eagles visit at 7 p.m.