Thunder Silenced... Express On Track As Playoffs Approach
Whether you were a paying spectator or you just walked in for free; you certainly got your monies worth!
The Express visited the Thunder a week ago and just did not give the effort they have been accustomed to give throughout the season, so making up for last weeks game was a priority. The Express tied the Bears last Friday and then defeated the Ravens on Sunday to solidify a playoff position no lower than third but are certainly not accepting that placement as they looked to sneak up the standings and overtake the Westshore Bears for second.
Apollo Kimmie started in goal for the Thunder and Max Lavoie for the Express in this match up. The Thunder open the scoring scoring 2 power play goals on a roughing major to Robbie Walker. The Express bounce back with their first of the period at 15:48 on an unassisted goal by John Etzel. The home team then reply back with 2 more markers of their own and have a 4-1 lead with over half the period left to play. Is this a sign of what was last week?… Not tonight!!! With 1:40 left in the first, Brayden Flynn scores on a nice pick and roll with Bryan Toth and then with a man advantage :39 seconds later, Zack Dhillon makes a bid for power play time and fires in a cannon assisted by John Etzel and Riley Condon to bring the score to Cowichan (4) and Saanich (3) to close out the first period.
The 2nd period started with both teams working and running hard, not willing to give up the first goal of the stanza. After a couple of penalties to each team, the visiting Express tied the game on a power play goal by Riley Condon, assisted by midget call-up Mason Lo (Peninsula Warriors). Cowichan retakes the lead on the PP marker of their own but then gets in to penalty trouble which opened the door to an Express power play that was just looking for a reason to explode, and that they did. John Etzel steals a ball with the Thunder trying to clear their zone and fires one to tie the game at five. Then at 8:51 he buries another, assisted by Zack Dhillon and Brayden Flynn. Cowichan then ties the game at 6’s but the Express then take control of play and Zack Dhillon scores 3 goals over a four minute span (getting the natural hat trick) with assists on those goals coming by way of Riley Condon, Max Lavoie and Bryan Toth. The Thunder score a pretty goal with :01 second left in the 2nd period to close the gap but the Express outscore the home team 6-3 in the frame and take a 9-7 lead in to the final intermission.
Noticing momentum had changed, the Thunder start Kain Stewart in net in hopes of swinging the tides. With the Thunder in the box serving a double major (5 + 5 & Matches to boot), the Express spent very little time to score the next goal on the PP. At 19:18, Jorden Tytgat scores a goal (faster than the previous jellyfish shot) with the assist coming from this seasons unsung hero Noah Ackinclose making the score 10-7. The Thunder score the next 3 minutes later to claw back. Brayden Flynn then scores for the visitors, assisted by Zack Dhillon but the home team just wouldn’t quit. They score 2 more goals in six minutes to bring the game within one (11-10). The Express coaching staff noticing that their defensive stalwart was fatigued and moving slowly, they pulled Lavoie from the game to give him a break and inserted 5th year goalie Nolan Tytgat; hoping that coming in cold, but fresh would give the team a spark for the final 9 minutes of the game. That proved to be the “TSN Turning Point” as the Express then went to the cage immediately and Etzel scores on an assist from Matt Caseley. Etzel then buries the Thunder with two more goals at 7:13 and 3:34 with an assist coming from Brayden Flynn and securing the victory, giving the Thunder their first loss of the season.
The Express prove yet again that with a plethora of injuries and players hurting, the team rises to the occasion. What is also impressive is the play of each and every call-up that has played this season for the Express, and last nights game was no exception. Mason Lo and Jack Bowie played like 3rd year Juniors, not being intimidated by the step-up in caliber and looked like they were weren’t out of place at all. That bodes well for the midget players coming from the Peninsula as well as the Saanich players who played weeks earlier against Oceanside. The Saanich Express are thrilled with the talent that comes to play whenever given the chance.
This game was a HUGE victory and a tremendous confidence booster for your Saanich Express. With the win, it puts the Express in to 2nd place in the standings with one game left to play against the Westshore Bears. The Bears have 3 games left (Express, Timbermen and Thunder). With a crucial game on Thursday evening at the Q Center Arena, the winner could shore up 2nd place in the standings.
Next Game: Thursday, June 28th @ 8pm at the Q Center Arena with the Westshore Bears hosting your Saanich Express. Fans… jump in the boxcar and ride the rails to Juan de Fuca to cheer on your Saanich Express! All Aboard!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43nYG_HQxE8