The Coquitlam Express head into the new year riding a 14-game winning streak, after a pair of shootout victories over the Chilliwack Express over the weekend.
The streak is the longest in franchise history, surpassing the 13 consecutive wins the Express put together in 2006 when the team went on to win the national championship. It also extends Coquitlam’s lead atop the BC Hockey League standings to 10 points over the Penticton Vees, which has played one more game. The Express is also 21 points ahead of the second place Chiefs in the Mainland division.
Sunday, at the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex, Will Margel scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Express a 3-2 win over the visitors from Chiilwack.
After Adam Trotman gave the home team a 1-0 lead late in the first period, the Chiefs scored twice in the second period to take the lead. Greg Lapointe tied it three minutes into the final frame with his 21st goal of the season. Neither side was able to score in overtime.
Clay Stevenson made 26 saves to earn his 24th victory of the season.
Saturday in Chilliwack, Margel’s scoring prowess in the shootout also played a role in Coquitlam’s 5-4 win, as he and Massimo Rizzo beat Chiefs’ goalie Mathieu Caron in the one-on-one showdowns.
Chilliwack had a 2-1 lead at the end of the first period, then extended it to 3-1 when Trevor Adams beat Stevenson 3:12 after the break.
Rizzo scored his 10th goal of the season just over four minutes later to get the Express back to within a goal, then Steven Bellini tied it with less than five minutes left to play in regulation. But 30 seconds later, the home team was in front again on a goal by Kyle Penney.
Coquitlam tied it again, with just a minute left in regulation time, when Ethan O’Rourke pounced on a loose puck at the edge of the crease and put it past Chiefs’ keeper, Caron.
The Express had a chance to win the game in overtime when Chilliwack’s Joey Larson was sent to the penalty box for tripping Rizzo with 38 seconds left on the clock, but the team wasn’t able to convert on the power play.
The Express will hit the road for four games beginning Jan. 3 in West Kelowna. They play the Vernon Vipers the next night and then move on to Salmon Arm for a game against the Silverbacks on Jan. 5. The road trip wraps with another game against the Chiefs, in Chilliwack, on Jan. 11 before the Express host the Langley Rivermen the next night.