COQUITLAM — Their second game was better than their first.
The Coquitlam Express launched the 2013-14 B.C. Hockey League season by splitting its twin tests at the BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack, falling 4-2 to the Merritt Centennials on
Friday, before collaring the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 9-4 on Sunday.
Coquitlam native Joey Santucci displayed sure hands against the Bulldogs, collecting three goals in a game where the Express exploded for four goals late in the first period to stake out a 5-1 lead.
A 19-year-old recruit who spent the past season and a half with Prince Albert of the Western Hockey League, Santucci is one of five local products who bolster a rebuilt Express lineup.
While Alberni would close the gap to just two, Santucci’s third goal of the game, which came just 28 seconds into the middle frame, alleviated much of the pressure.
It helped shake off memories of Friday’s disappointing setback, where the Cents counted three times in a span of 54 seconds to erase a 2-1 Coquitlam lead.
“We came out flying. The difference between today and Friday is that we worked all 60 minutes,” remarked Santucci. “We kind of gave up [for five to 10 minutes] in the first game… I think we’ve got a good thing going here.”
Corey Mackin, playing in his first game with the club, tallied twice and set up another, while Daniell Lange, Cameron Marks, Bo Pieper and Nicolas Rasovic rounded out the scoring.
Turning aside 26 shots to post his first win in his first start was recently-acquired Gordie Defiel.
Against Merritt, Coquitlam took the lead on markers by Rasovic and Lange before everything fell apart.
The club now prepares for its next game, Sunday in South Surrey. Coquitlam’s first home date at the Poirier Sports Centre is on Sept. 21 against Langley.
More to come.
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