by Eric Welsh – The Progress
The Coquitlam Express failed to snap a 26 game losing streak against the Chilliwack Chiefs Friday night at Prospera Centre.
But they did prevent the streak from reaching 27, battling the home team to a rare 2-2 draw.
Chilliwack played a solid first period, storming out to an early two-goal lead. But the feisty Express carried the play the rest of the way, battling back on goals by Christian Sanda and Haydn Delorme.
The Chiefs would have liked to have picked up two points in the tight Mainland division standings, but one point will do as they improved to 19-16-2-3.
Coquitlam’s record moved to 9-26-1-3.
Chilliwack’s PJ Marrocco got the scoring started just 2:39 into this one.
The Edmonton native picked the pocket of Express forward Jack Graham in the right faceoff circle and ripped a far side shot past Coquitlam keeper Brock Hamm, picking the top corner over the goalie’s blocker.
Another Express giveaway led to the second Chiefs goal at the 15 minute mark.
As Coquitlam defenceman Troy Robillard tried to skate the puck out of his own zone, he lost it to Chilliwack’s Corey Andonovski. Andonovski zipped a pass across the goal-mouth to Ryan Bowen, who had a tap-in for his first BCHL goal since the 2014-15 season.
Chiefs goalie Mathieu Caron, making his fifth straight start, made a couple huge stops in the first period, thwarting Coquitlam’s Joshua Wildauer and Eric Linell on point-blank chances.
More defensive sloppiness by the home team let the visitors onto the scoreboard 3:48 into period two.
No one in black covered Christian Sanda as he skated into the slot, collected a centering pass from Lucas Wong, waited until Caron dropped to the ice and lifted a top-shelf shot over the netminder at 3:48.
While the rest of his team struggled through an ugly middle frame Caron was razor sharp, making several massive saves to preserve the one goal lead.
He robbed Haydn Delorme, Colby Pederson and Jonathan Sheardown on blue-chip chances, and got some help from his goal post on a shot by Sam Kozlowski.
The Express scored the equalizer 5:41 into period three on a goal by Haydn Delorme, who got his stick on a Sheardown wrister from the right point and deflected it past Caron.
That goal sent the game to four-on-four overtime, and then three-on-three OT.
Coquitlam’s Robillard had the best chance to end it. Robillard flanked teammate Joshua Bruce on a two-on-none breakaway from center ice in. Bruce waited and waited before feathering a pass across to Robillard. Stretching post to post, Caron reached out and snared Robillard’s shot with his big mitt.
Seconds later at the other end, Chilliwack defenceman Bryan Allbee danced around an Express defender and was in alone, but fired his shot into the crest of Hamm’s jersey.
Andonovski pinged an attempt off the cross-bar with less than 10 seconds to play.