O'Rourke strikes twice for Express

Former Spruce King comes back to haunt his former teammates

Ethan O’Rourke scored two goals against his former team, including the gamewinner early in the third period Saturday, to carry the visiting Coquitlam Express to an 8-5 win over the Prince George Spruce Kings.  

O’Rourke also drew an assist to allow the league-leading Express to sweep their weekend series with the Spruce Kings at Rolling Mix Concrete Arena.

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The Kings, who lost the opener Friday 4-2, led 3-0 Saturday on a pair of goals from Corey Cunningham and a single from Thomas Richter. Greg Lapointe and Cooper Connell countered for the Express late in the first period. Connor Gregga tied it early in the second period and Adam Trotman gave Coquitlam a 4-3 lead five minutes into the second.

Domenic Garrozzo brought the Kings back on even terms before O’Rourke was able to beat Kings goalie Jett Alexander for his first of the night 7:45 into the middle period. For Garozzo, 19, it was his first goal in five games since joining the Kings in a trade from Salmon Arm.

Kings captain Nolan Welsh brought the Kings to within a goal with his 12th of the season with 7:48 gone in the third period but Connell connected on a Coquitlam power play and Joshua Wildauer ended the suspense with an empty-net goal late.

Jack Watson notched the win in goal for the Express, who outshot the Kings 26-21.

O’Rourke, 20, was acquired by the Express in a September 2018 deal with the Spruce Kings along with the future rights to forward Tyler Schleppe in exchange for forward Sam Kozlowski. Kozlowski, a veteran of 121 BCHL games, had two goals and two assists in 11 games last season with the Spruce Kings but decided to quit hockey.

The win moved the Express (30-5-0-0) 33 points ahead of the Spruce Kings (11-20-2-3) atop the Mainland Division standings. The Kings will try to end their five-game losing streak Wednesday at noon in Coquitlam, where they begin a three-game roadtrip.

Prince George will also visit Surrey on Friday (7:30 p.m. start) and Langley on Sunday afternoon (2:30 p.m) before the Kings head into the Christmas break.

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