It's a numbers game in every sense of the term. The Coquitlam Express are just days away from the onset of the regular season and are faced with a series of final decisions, current deals and outcomes of past player movement.
The final roster decisions are expected to be made today (Wednesday) ahead of this weekend's showcase event, and the club is coming off a 1-3 preseason showing that saw Coquitlam score just five goals in four games.
The club dropped three contests to Powell River (4-1, 3-0 and 3-1) and upended Chilliwack 5-3. "We really liked the compete level and the work ethic, those were two things that we really tried to emphasize in the preseason," said coach Barry Wolff. "But obviously we didn't score a lot of goals, so that's a concern right now."
With the defence essentially finalized, the remaining decisions revolve around both putting the puck in the net, while also keeping it out.
Three goalies remain in camp - including Coquitlam native Daniel Urbani - while a series of holes remain at forward.
Wolff said Tuesday that the club was "still working on" acquiring Minnesota natives Bo and Canon Pieper, both of whom previously put up big numbers in the Shattuck St. Mary's program and now play in the USHL.
It was hoped that the Express would acquire Ontario native Michael Rebry as part of last season's deal that shipped top scorer John Siemer to Penticton, though Wolff said the player will likely suit up south of the border this season. If that's the case, the club will receive cash in return.
In a move that was finalized Monday, the Express shipped third-year forward Mitchell Fyffe to Surrey for future considerations. In 115 BCHL, games he put up 22 points (10 goals and 12 assists).
The club also needs to shore up its leadership group, and the players were expected to vote on whom would wear the letters Tuesday after Tri-Cities NOW deadlines.
"[The captain] is an extension of the coaching staff - he's got to be mature and there for the right reasons," Wolff said. "He's got to be a guy that his teammates look up to, works hard, competes and has strong character."
Leadership behind the bench, however, has been taken care of. Wolff's assistant coach this year will be Rob Boyd, who most recently served as the chief scout in Merritt. Before that stint, Boyd had worked alongside Wolff as a scout in Langley.
The Express open the regular season this weekend as part of the league's showcase event and take on Merritt and Alberni Valley.
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