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MJHL: Express Extend Historic Run Sweeping into Foster Cup Championship
Posted: March 19, 2015
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#17 | Dylan Carabia
Walpole, MA  - Over the past two weekends the Express participated in the Foster Cup Championship playoffs aiming to extend their winning streak. And win they did. The Express headed to Hartford for the first round of playoffs in a round robin format. The Express were pitted against the #2 seed Wilkes Barre Scranton Knights, the #11 seed Philadelphia Junior Flyers and the #15 seed New Jersey. The first two games went as expected with the Express winning both handily -- beating the Junior Flyers 4-0 and the Titans 6-3. The third game was a must-win for Walpole in order to move on to the semi-finals. This was where the drama and excitement of playoff hockey really kicked in.

Express vs Wilkes Barre
The Express defeated them 3-1 earlier in the year. Still, the re-match was by far the most exciting contest of the weekend. The Knights drew first blood in the first frame on a power play goal and kept the Express on their heels. In the second period the Express found their legs but not the back of the net. The Knights extended their lead to 2-0 with another goal midway through. The Express found themselves down 2-0 to a team that had not lost the lead going into the third period all year. But just three minutes into the third the Express cut the lead in half when Logan Stark scored his first goal of the morning. Shortly after, Ryan Gilboy struck to tie it up.

After those two goals, the teams were at a stalemate through the end of the third, trading chances and power plays. After the third, it moved into sudden death OT… which -- much to the excitement of the fans -- solved nothing. A second overtime period was necessary. It looked like the game was going to end without a winner until Stark slipped behind the defense to receive a pass from Alex MacInnis, who drove around the net, to score the winning goal. Devin Day was in the net for all three wins in the quarterfinals stopping 119 of 124 shots.

Semi-Finals vs Hartford Wolfpack
The semi-final round saw the Express face-off against one of the few teams able to beat the Express during the regular season. The Express played game one at home in a best of three series. Game one had the Express going up early and never looking back. The Express struck for five goals against the Wolfpack, only allowing one against.

Game two was a different story, though. Once again the “cardiac kids” decided that winning during regulation wasn’t exciting enough. They wanted OT! Here’s how it unfolded. The Express headed down to Hartford for the second weekend in a row for this elimination game. One win and the Express would return to the Foster Cup Championship series for the first time in five years so a lot was riding on this tilt. The game started with Dylan Carabia scoring halfway through the first period. But the Wolfpack’s assault was relentless as they dominated the play for the better part of two periods, finally solved the wall that was Day during the second period. Hartford tied the game at 1.

The rest of regulation went back and forth with both teams changing the pace of play. In the first overtime period both teams had opportunities on the power play but neither was able to convert. Luckily for the Express a disallowed goal for goalie interference kept the game heading into a second overtime. This time the Express didn’t wait until the last two minutes to seal the victory. Instead, early in the second OT Carabia picked off a pass in the neutral zone and beat the Hartford defense wide, ripping a shot high over the goalie’s glove – in the process winning the game and sending the Express to the championship. Day was stellar in net with 35 saves.

Upcoming
The Express are in action this week for the final round of the MJHL playoffs against the Boston Junior Rangers. Friday the Express face off against the Rangers in Tewksbury at 6:50 pm’ on home ice at Rodman Arena on Saturday at 4:40 pm; and if necessary back in Tewksbury on Sunday at 3:45 pm. This is a best of three series to decide who represents the MJHL at the USA Hockey Junior Nationals next week.

Come to Rodman this Saturday to show your support for this hardworking Express team!!!!!

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