Express Tuesday: Swamped

Yeah, It was that kind of week (Photo: Jason Easterly / Naples Daily News)

The Express packed up their bags again, and headed to Southwest Florida to take on the Florida Everblades three times in their first meeting of the regular season. Let’s just say the nicest thing I can say about last week is that I hope the boys enjoyed the weather. Yeesh.

Florida Everblades 7, Chicago Express 2

The Express started out the three game tilt vs. the Blades on Wednesday on the right track (har). Chad Painchaud scored his 10th for the Express 3:40 into the first on a one timer against Florida goaltender Pat Nagle. The lead was short lived though, as Kory Falite snuck a rebound past Paul Dainton just 1:13 later. Steven Delisle, freshly returned from the AHL, fought the Blades’ Scott Fletcher shortly after the goal in a spirited bout. Florida defenseman Kyle Lawson gave the Everblades a 2-1 lead at 16:49 of the first.

At the start of the second period, Florida’s Scott Pitt scored on a breakaway 3:54 into the middle frame. Chaz Johnson would give Chicago a glimmer of hope, scoring his 11th of the season at 16:09 of the period to get the Express within one. From then on, it was all Florida. Trevor Bruess scored with just 29 seconds left in the second to give the Everblades a 4-2 lead. Florida overwhelmed the Express in the third, with goals by Tyler Shelast, Brayden Irwin and David Rutherford. Goaltender Paul Dainton was pulled after Florida’s fifth goal, but Allen York didn’t fare much better, saving 12 of 14 shots against. Overall the Everblades blasted Chicago with 42 shots in the game, compared to the Express’ 15. Florida had 17 shots in the third period alone. Both Kyle Ostrow and Mike Embach left the game due to injury. Ouch.

 Florida Everblades 4, Chicago Express 2

Hey, the Express made a game of this one!

In a penalty filled game (58 minutes, including six roughing minors), which included two fights (A Steven-Delisle-Scott Fletcher rematch and Fletcher-Josh Burrows tilt at the end of the third period), the Express hoped to win the middle game between the two clubs. Despite Chicago having a 15-7 edge in shots in the first period, Kory Falite would score the only goal of the period, going five hole on goaltender Peter Mannino, in his Express debut.

The Blades and Express traded goals in the second period. Ryan Donald scored two minutes into the period to give Florida a 2-0 lead, but newly signed forward Drew Atkins scored his first goal for the Express on a deflection past goalie John Muse four minutes later. The Everblades would score on the power play on Matt Marquardt’s 15th goal of the season to again give them a two goal lead. Chicago would answer back on Chad Painchaud’s 11th with just 1:12 left in the period. The Express were stifled in the third, garnering only 5 shots on goal, and the Blades finished them off with an empty net goal by Brayden Irwin with just 30 seconds left in the game. The Express held the edge in shots, with 30 to Florida’s 29. Due to injuries, the Express played the entire game short a man on the bench, so all things considering, a valiant effort.

 Florida Everblades 4, Chicago Express 3 (SO)

This game ended in a fifteen round shootout. Fifteen. That’s a little hard for me to comprehend.

Let’s cut to the chase – The teams were tied at one at the end of one (goals by Florida’s David Rutherford and Chicago’s Josh Burrows). The Blades took a 3-1 lead into the third, but the Express came back, scoring two (TWO) power play goals, by Pierre-Luc Faubert and Tyler Donati. After a scoreless overtime, THIS happened:

Stats courtesy ECHL.com

Kudos to goaltenders Peter Mannino and John Muse – it’s a shame one team had to lose after such a marathon. It must have been fun to watch, and I hate the shootout. And stick taps to the Express, for not only getting a point, but for coming back after what must have been a mentally difficult week.

The Express are 0-7-2-1 now in their last ten road games. Oy vey.

The Week Ahead: Friday (1/20) at Cincinnati Cyclones, Saturday (1/21) at Cincinnati Cyclones. The Express return to Chicago on Wednesday, January 25th vs. the Cincinnati Cyclones. I’m sure the teams will love each other more than ever by that point.

Current Standings: North Division – 1) Kalamazoo Wings, 45 points (37 GP), 2) Chicago Express, 38 points (37 GP), 3) Cincinnati Cyclones, 35 points (32 GP), 4) Toledo Walleye, 33 points (36 GP). The Express are currently sitting in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. The top eight teams in the conference will make the Kelly Cup playoffs

Stats-O-Rama: Tyler Donati  & Chad Painchaud currently lead the team in points with 33…Chaz Johnson, Pierre-Luc Faubert and Painchaud lead the team in goals with 11…Tyler Donati has 24 assists…Nathan Lutz is a +12…Devin DiDiomete is fifth in the ECHL with 136 penalty minutes…Peter Mannino is the Express goaltending leader with a GAA of 2.91 and a SV% of .902…The Express are sixth in the ECHL and first in the Eastern Conference in PIM with 755, averaging 20.4 penalty minutes a game…The Express are tied for fourth in the ECHL with 6 shorthanded goals…Chicago is 18/20 in the ECHL in both power play percentage (15.4%) and the penalty kill (78.9%)

Recent Transactions: The Express signed forward Drew Akins…Goaltender Peter Mannino was assigned to the Express by the Winnipeg Jets’ AHL affiliate…Goalie Paul Dainton was reassigned by the Express’ AHL affiliate (Springfield Falcons) to the Reading Royals…Currently Drew Paris, Steven Delisle, Darcy Campbell, Blair Riley and Bobby Robins are all playing for various teams in the AHL.

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