The Bulldogs had a good chance on the opening rush of the game, but were promptly penalized on the backcheck inside the first minute. Luke Pearson made a couple good saves around the paint to keep it tied. The Bulldogs had two further good chances on breakways in the following minutes, with both Josh Zary and Tommy Bannister stopped by Clay Stevenson. The Bulldogs went again to the penalty box, and again killed it off, but couldn't draw a penalty of their own when Bannister seeminlgy should have drawn something on a would-be breakaway chance taken away with any number of infractions possible, but play continued on. It would be stopped by a third straight Express power play to open the game, and they would open the scoring on it as a perfect cross-ice set up by Nicholas Carabin to the left circle was one-timed home short-side by Cooper Connell to make it 1-0, with Drew Cooper also assisting at 13:30 of the first.
Now... when you think you've seen it all. Try to follow along here. With three minutes to play in the period, a Bulldog player was tripped up by a diving Express defender. The back Referee put his arm up to signal a delayed penalty. Susequently, Luke Pearson raced to the bench for the extra attacker. HOWEVER, the Referee decided to "un-call" the penalty? And lowered his arm. The Bulldogs were left with no goalie, so Luke Pearson raced back to the net. The Bulldogs would have one-too-many men on the ice - I'm not sure there's a way to react to a scenario such as this. The Express would understandably scream from their bench that they had six skaters. The Officials would initially call the Bulldogs for too-many-men and move the faceoff to their end. A long passionate discussion from the Bulldog staff would inform the second Referee of the first Referee's actions. Credit to the Officials, halfway I guess for not penalizing the Bulldogs? However, they never earned their power play chance either. Less than a minute later the damage was magified, as it was 2-0 when Drew Cooper one-timed home a centering pass from the slot high past the blocker of Pearson, with assists to Ryan Tattle and Tyler Schleppe at 18:08 of the first. Shots in the period were 9-7 Express.
The second period began with the Bulldogs making an immediate statement to make it 2-1 as Ryan Doolin fed the puck with help by Mitchel Deelstra from the left corner behind the net for Jacob Bosse. He would put a perfect pass to a wide open Tim Gould in the slot, where he ripped a quick release five-hole on Stevenson to make it 2-1 at 49 seconds of period two. The Bulldogs would tie it up, after a fourth straight penalty kill to open the game, when Ryan Doolin again fought the puck out of the Bulldog zone up the right wing for Jacob Bosse for a 2 on 1 rush that saw him make a second effort to find Mitchel Deelstra flying in alone where he went to his backhand and put the puck into the net - where it was caught by Stevenson, but from my vantage point, at least a foot over the goal line. The Referee would be perfectly positioned, and signalled goal. The Express would argue, but the initial call stayed and it was 2-2 at 7:12 of the second. The Bulldogs earned a power play at the middle of the period, but couldn't generate much on it. At it's conclusion, Isaac Pascoal drove by the defence and in alone, but took a stick and arm across his body and couldn't get a shot on net, nor could he draw a call. Less than a minute later, it was 3-2 Coquitlam, when Joseph Borthwick picked off a pass at centre ice and skated over the left wing where he put a quick release long-side under the glove of Pearson - perhaps off a defender's stick. The goal was unassisted. In the late stages of the period Tommy Bannister made a spin move to make two defenders miss to skate in alone, where he appeared to lose the handle, but managed to draw a penalty. The Bulldogs were unable to tie the game before the period ended. Shots in the second were nine-aside, for a 18-16 Express advantage into the third.
The third period saw the Express come out with a slight edge as the Bulldogs were somewhat sloppy, repeatedly turning the puck over through the opening four minutes, but getting out of it unscathed. It would be one-turnover-too-many on the next sequence, as an attempted pass up the middle by a Bulldog went right onto the stick of Tyler Schleppe in the slot, who made no mistake in ripping a perfect shot off the bottom of the crossbar over the glove of Pearson to make it 4-2 at 4:04 of period three. Assists were given on the play, but were un-earned. That would do it for the scoring, but not for a lack of chances, as the Bulldogs fought hard to the end, and had in-alone looks for Mitchel Deelstra, and several times for Tommy Bannister, but Clay Stevenson was fantastic to protect the lead including making two good saves in the final 90 seconds when the Bulldogs pushed with the extra attacker.
Shots in the third were 7-7, for a game total of 25-23 Express, with Clay Stevenson earning the win and Luke Pearson took the loss. The Express went 1 for 5 on the power play while the Bulldogs went 0 for 3.
The Bulldogs are next in action Wednesday night in Chilliwack when they face the host Chiefs at the BCHL Showcase.
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