The Cranbrook Bucks faced the Express for the first time ever on Sunday afternoon in Coquitlam, but it was one the visitors would soon like to forget.
It took all of 20 seconds for the Express to open the scoring courtesy of Drew Garzone’s first BC Hockey League goal.
Coquitlam added goals from Tyler Kopff at 2:46 and Michael Rubin at 10:28 to grab a 3-0 lead before the first period media timeout.
In an attempt to change the momentum, Cranbrook made a goaltending change following the third Express’ goal, bringing Nathan Airey into the game in relief of Carter Capton.
The move seemed to pay off as the Bucks pushed back against Coquitlam’s early lead and eventually got on the board themselves.
While on a powerplay, Donovan Frias redirected a Cam Kungle shot to the back of the net to cut into the deficit.
Frias’ second goal in as many nights and fifth of the season was assisted by Kungle and Rhys Bentham at 15:30 to make it 3-1 for the Express.
That would be all the scoring in a first period that saw Coquitlam outshoot Cranbrook by a 16-8 margin.
Despite some more pushback from the Bucks in the second period, the Express once again outshot Cranbrook 13-8 and found the only goal during the middle frame.
Just past the midway point of the second stanza, Evan Brown converted a powerplay marker to extend Coquitlam’s lead to 4-1 at 10:33.
In the third period, the Bucks again narrowed the shots-on-goal margin down to just 11-8 in the Express’ favour, but surrendered the only two goals in the opening minutes of the final frame.
Coquitlam quickly got tallies from Mirko Buttazzoni at 1:11 and Cameron Moger at 2:10 of the third to put the game out of reach.
The Express held on for a 6-1 victory in a game that saw them outshoot Cranbrook 40-24 overall.
With just a single goal on the night, offence continued to be a struggle for the Bucks.
They’ve managed just seven goals while going 1-3-1 their last five games — all on the road — after exploding for 10 tallies in their last home game against Powell River.
The loss drops Cranbrook’s record to 8-6-1 on the season, and 5-4-1 as the road team.
A long stretch of six games on the road including a difficult trip to the West Coast wraps up on Monday night when the Bucks finally face the Nanaimo Clippers in a make-up game for Friday’s postponed tilt.
The boxscore for Sunday’s game against the Express can be found here courtesy of the BCHL website, while a game recap from Cranbrook’s website is here.
Game highlights can also be viewed below courtesy of the Bucks YouTube channel.