The Coquitlam Express are a much better team than they’ve been in recent years, but Prospera Centre continues to be a house of horrors for Chilliwack’s BCHL Mainland division rival.
Chilliwack beat the Express 5-3 on home ice Saturday night, giving them 17 wins and a tie in their last 18 meetings in this building.
That is the most dominant stretch for one BCHL team over another BCHL, stretching all the way back to the 2013-14 season finale.
Saturday night’s victory gave Chilliwack a record of 27-11-0-0 and lifted them into a tie with Prince George for first in the division and first overall.
Coquitlam fell to 20-17-1-0, 13 points behind the Chiefs and Spruce Kings in the race for top spot.
The Express got the only goal in the opening 20, with Connor Gregga netting his 15th of the year on a Coquitlam power play.
Camping out in the left faceoff circle, Gregga stepped into a feed from point man Pito Walton, one-timing the puck past Chiefs keeper Daniel Chenard.
The other highlight in the first period was a scrap between Chilliwack rookie Clark Nelson and Express veteran Troy Robillard. Despite being two years younger than his 20 year old foe, Nelson handled himself very well. Robillard pulled his jersey all the way over his head, for which Nelson earned two minutes for not having that jersey tied down (illegal equipment), but Nelson was the better fighter, landing several rights before throwing Robillard to the ice.
Both players got tossed from the game.
The Chiefs tied the game on a second period goal by Cole Donhauser. Curling out of the left faceoff circle into the slot, with no bodies in front of the Coquitlam net, the New York native rifled a low stick side shot past Express keeper Kolby Matthews to knot the score at 1-1 through 40 minutes.
Puck luck that went against Chilliwack for most of this game favoured them on the go-ahead goal, scored 3:58 into the final frame.
Rookie blueliner Brody Gagno sent a slap shot toward the net from the left wing wall, and Skyler Brind’Amour got his stick on it, beating Matthews with the deflection.
The Chiefs took a two-goal lead, briefly, on a shorthanded effort by Harrison Blaisdell.
Jacques Bouquot sent Blaisdell away on a breakaway and the 17 year old pulled away from Coquitlam’s Pito Walton as he stormed in on net. Blaisdell slipped a five-hole shot through Matthews at 9:06.
But just 31 seconds later, with his team still on the power play, Gregga got the Express back within one, beating Chenard with a short-side wrister from the top of the left faceoff circle.
Blaisdell had the answer to that less than two minutes later, scoring his second of the game at 11:22.
Camping at the top of the goal crease, he grabbed the rebound of a Carter Wilkie shot and stuffed it inside the left post for his team-leading 25th.
Christian Sanda got the visitors within one with just over a minute to play, splitting the Chiefs D and beating Chenard with a short-side wrister, but Blaisdell’s third of the game into an empty net with 9.9 ticks remaining wrapped up the scoring.
The three stars were Blaisdell (first), Gregga (second) and Donhauser (third).
The Fortis Energy Player of the Game was Brind’Amour.