Michigan product Tyger Howat was the difference as the Coquitlam Express stopped the Vernon Vipers 5-1 in B.C. Hockey League action Wednesday night before 375 fans at the Poirier Sports & Leisure Centre in Coquitlam.
Howat, who has played for eight teams in five different leagues over the last three seasons, turned aside 41 shots as he beat the Vipers for a second time. The Express derailed the Vipers 4-3 in overtime back on Sept. 18 at Kal Tire Place.
“Their goalie played really well,” said Viper second-year winger Jagger Williamson. “There was one shift where we had seven shots in 20 seconds and he stood on his head. We just couldn’t catch a break. He beat us in Vernon so I guess he’s got our number.”
Alex Ambrosio knocked in his own rebound 2:43 after the national anthem for his fifth, while Austin McIlMurray made it 2-0 off a quick pass by Colton Kerfoot five minutes later. McIlMurray, a Florida product, has goals in three of the last five games and 11 on the season.
Viper goalie Andrew Shortridge made a big breakaway save off Cam Bertsch and Charlie Barrow moments later with the Express shorthanded.
Howat recorded 15 saves for the Express in the first period, his finest coming in the dying seconds on a Vernon power play.
The Snakes (13-16-0-2) Vernon enjoyed a 5-on-3 power play for 74 seconds with d-man Latrell Charleson ringing a shot off the cross bar.
Jack Surowiec was hit with a pass coming out of the penalty box by Jarell Pinchuk and Surowiec converted his fourth on the breakaway.
Howat delivered 13 saves in the middle frame with the Express getting eight shots. Kerfoot converted his 13th on the powerplay with 13 seconds left in the period, making it 4-0.
Brendan Barry, who replaced Shortridge after two periods, was beat by Cam Bertsch with a shot that appeared to surprise the Viper goalie off a face-off, 3:11 into the third. Bertsch has four goals.
D-man Darren Rizzolo, with his second, scored Vernon’s goal on a power play 4:58 into the third.
Please see Friday’s Morning Star for further coverage