Home ice has been a tough row to hoe for the Coquitlam Express.
Sunday's gritty 3-1 victory over the Langley Rivermen could go a long way to rectify that.
The Express responded with some much-needed energy after a listless 4-1 loss on Friday to the Chilliwack Chiefs at the Poirier Sports Centre.
Although missing top-six forwards Alexander Kerfoot, Brandon Morley and Zach Pryzbek, who headed to Calgary for the Canada West tryout camp, and defencemen Marc Biega, Jason Bird (both injured) and Beau Orser (suspended), Coquitlam charged out Sunday with a solid game plan and a little desperation.
"We really wanted to bounce back after Friday's loss," recalled forward Will Cook. "We knew it was important to come out hard and have a good start - we could have fell to last place if Langley beat us."
John Siemer got Coquitlam on the scoresheet first, cashing in an unassisted goal midway through the opening period. In the second frame, Justin Georgeson netted his fifth of the season with what would prove to be his second game-winning goal.
Early in the third, 18-year-old Cook powered to the net and let fly a shot that Langley netminder James Barr stopped. But Express captain Mitch Nardi banged home the rebound to make it 3-0.
Mario Puskarich broke Cole Huggins' shutout with nine minutes left to play.
Two days earlier, Coquitlam was out-classed 4-1 by Chilliwack in a contest where the visitors had a 31-14 shots advantage after 40 minutes. The Chiefs connected on both the powerplay and shorthanded, as the home team struggled to create good scoring chances.
"We've struggled at home lately, so it was nice to see us put that game behind us," noted Cook. "While we didn't score a lot (Sunday) we got the job done."
It was especially well-timed, coming without three of their top forwards.
Kerfoot and Morley are aiming to represent Canada West for a second straight year - the two were line-mates and major contributors to last year's victory at the World Junior A Challenge - while Pryzbek, a native of Ontario, is looking to make the team as a rookie.
The squad now heads out for a three-game road trip that starts Friday in Powell River, heads to Port Alberni on Saturday, and wraps up in Cowichan on Sunday.
Coquitlam is undefeated over five road games so far.
"It's always fun to get away and just be together as a team," noted Cook. "It's kind of like a vacation in one sense - you're away from home, you've got new surroundings. You bring a different mindset to the rink."
Their next home test is on Nov. 9 against Chilliwack.