Michael Maciag opened the scoring 1:25 in, converting a cross-crease feed from Justin Georgeson to send the Express on their way, and teddy bears from the 700-odd fans in attendance raining from the stands.
Two one-of-a-kind bounces would put the hosts up inside six minutes. First, Philip Zielonka tapped a puck into the open net after a point shot ricocheted off the end dasher. Thirty-five seconds later, Georgeson floated a knuckleball from the high slot that handcuffed, and chased Smokies starter Lyndon Stanwood.
Affiliate backup Cody Boeckman would surrender a fourth goal to Travis Stephens late in the opening frame, and Stanwood would return to start the second.
The middle frame saw only one goal, from Coquitlam captain Mitch Nardi on a rebound, and tempers flared late when Trail defenseman Bennett Hambrook was thrown out for a checking from behind minor that led to a scrap with Express forward Will Cook.
The Smokies would score their lone goal 13 minutes into the third, as Braden Pears fired a slapper past Coquitlam netminder Daniel Urbani on a power-play.
But 25 seconds later, Stephens would pick a Trail defenseman's pocket and roof the puck from the left circle, and Coquitlam's leading scorer John Siemer would round out the scoring late on a rebound after a great individual effort from Zielonka.
The Smokies struggled to gain a foothold Saturday, thanks in part to the early deficit but also due to fatigue and a plethora of missing bodies. Coquitlam smelled blood, and attacked in waves all night, and were full value for the win. With both the Vipers and SilverBacks collecting two points on Saturday, Trail now sits three points from playoff safety with another tough test tomorrow in the Fraser Valley.
My 3 Stars:
1. Philip Zielonka, Coquitlam
2. Travis Stephens, Coquitlam
3. Mitch Nardi, Coquitlam
Up Next: Trail winds down the trip Sunday against the Mainland division leaders in Chilliwack. Game time is 5 pm.
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