After suffering their only loss of the preseason at the hands of the Langley Rivermen, the Coquitlam Express were victorious in their first game of the season against those same Rivermen Saturday night at George Preston Recreation Centre in Langley, British Columbia.
The Express had a preseason to remember winning all but one game, including a spirited tilt with rival Surrey Eagles. The Express were looking to continue their winning habits as they opened up their 2019-20 regular season.
Wardle Picks up First Victory
Thanks to goaltender Jack Watson being sidelined with an injury and Clay Stevenson leaving for an unexpected personal matter, 16-year-old West Vancouver native Thomas Wardle received the nod in goal for the Express on opening night.
Wardle was the goaltender for the Express in their lone preseason loss, and sure enough, it came at the hands of the Rivermen, at the same arena the Express opened their season in on Saturday. In the first period of that preseason game back on August 28th, Wardle allowed two goals on nine shots in the opening period. The season opener was a different story.
The Rivermen peppered the young goaltender with 19 shots, but Wardle stood tall and turned away every shot that came his way during the first 20 minutes of his BCHL debut. This really set the tone for the Express, which found a way to solve Langley goaltender Braedon Fleming via three power play goals in the second period.
Power Play Goals Galore
Coquitlam captain Drew Cooper found the back of the net to give the Express the early 1-0 lead, to which the Rivermen answered with a goal of their own less than three minutes later to even the odds. Cooper once again found the back of the net on the man advantage to give the Express a one-goal lead, before Tyler Schleppe added another power play goal with just over three and a half minutes left in the middle frame.
The Express added to its lead with another power play goal courtesy of Danny Pearson, and another goal from Brad Ong, who was making his return to the BCHL after spending last season in the National Collegiate Development Conference as a member of the Connecticut Jr. Rangers.
Wardle continued to stand tall and allowed just one goal in each of the final two periods of play. He was named the second star of last night’s contest, but he was the first star in his team’s hearts on Saturday night.
The Express will face off against rival Surrey Eagles this Friday at 7 PM from South Surrey Arena. If that game is anywhere near the same intensity level that it was when these two teams faced each other in the preseason, you won’t want to miss it.