It was a dismal start for the Coquitlam Express, and they made things interesting in the third, but in the end it was all Prince George in a 7-3 victory.
On their teddy bear toss night, the Express were outshot 17-6 in the first period, with Prince George leading 2-0 going into the intermission. Jarod Hovde got the scoring started as he was able to knock in a loose puck. Hunter Luhmann drove out from the right corner, and sent a puck in off the post and behind Reid Cooper. The Express netminder was able to keep the original opportunity out, but Hovde dug the puck in for the first goal of the night. That continued a dominate performance against Coquitlam as Hovde had nine points in the last two games against Coquitlam. Mennear scored with 4:54 to go as another flopper made it past Cooper. Mennear came in with a shot, and as everyone stopped waited for the ref to blow the whistle, he instead signalled for a goal. It was Mennear’s 50th career BCHL marker.
Coming into the game, Ben Brar had three points in eight games since coming over from the Penticton Vees where he had four points in 21 appearances. He would equal his point performance at 9:37 of the second on an odd man rush. Travis Schneider had the puck, and dropped it back for Brar who picked the top right corner putting Prince George up 3-0. Coquitlam would earn a late power play, but it was the Spruce Kings again finding twine. Looking dangerous all night long, Ethan de Jong was able to beat Cooper on a two-on-one with 45 seconds left after taking a pass from Brett Mennear. It was de Jong’s first shorthanded goal in the BCHL, and Mennear’s third point when down a man.
Pushing for their teddy bear goal, the Express would finally break through in the third to make it 4-1. Hayden Knight had a shot in the slot 1:14 in that managed to squeak past Tavin Grant playing in his 11th consecutive game. The celebrations didn’t last long though as 23 second after the next puck drop Mennear scored his second of the game. The scoring didn’t end there though as Sam Kozlowski scored for the Express to bring the score within three again 2:43 in. Coming down the right wing, Kozlowski slowed up and drifted to the middle of the blue line. Waiting for traffic to build up, the forward eventually unleashed a shot that found twine.
Defeseman Drew Lennon put the game out of reach 15:33 in as he made a fancy move in front of the net. Jumping up in the rush, he took a backdoor feed from Parker Colley who was on the right wall, and all alone in front Lennon deked to his back hand, and slid the puck between the legs of Cooper. Luca Leone scored with 1:31 to go in the game, but Prince George capped the scoring as callup Chong Min Lee took a shot from the slot and scored in his first BCHL game. With his older brother in Poland playing at the Euro Ice Hockey Challenge, Min Lee received a pass from Ben Poisson, and made no mistake with 38 seconds to go.
Jarod Hovde who opened the scoring was named the games first star of the game, while Brett Mennear with two goals and a helper was the third. Hayden Knight who scored the Teddy Bear Toss goal was the second star of the evening. Prince George will stay in the mainland Friday night, and ferry over to the Island Saturday as they have a 7pm match with the Cowichan Valley Capitals followed by a Sunday afternoon game in Victoria.
-Prince George Spruce Kings