The playoff hopes for the Lockport Express get tighter and tighter as each game winds down. With only five games remaining in the regular season and still trailing the Roc City Royals by five points, each point is worth so much more. After losing Thursday morning to the Southern Tier Xpress, 9-4, Lockport is facing a pair of must-wins in Massachusetts this weekend.
In a rare, midweek showdown, the Express traveled to Jamestown for a matinee performance. Southern Tier took control of the game immediately, scoring only 31 seconds into the contest off the stick of Cameron Trejchel. Luke Grossman added his own tally at 5:09 and Joseph Gerace made it 3-0 at 6:26.
Lockport was able to get their own goal on the board at 15:07. Newcomer Chace Woods scored with assists coming from Pavel Kovtunov and Michael Sokol. Ty Rickabaugh extended Southern Tier’s lead to 4-1 at 16:38 on the powerplay.
Andrew Logar opened the scoring in the second period. His goal, coming at 3:04, was assisted by Blake Bennett and Nick Grupp. Southern Tier answered almost immediately with Rickabaugh finding the back of the net just 41 seconds later. Lockport drew within two goals when Blake Bennett scored at 5:59. Andrew Logar and John Duffy garnered the assists. Rickabaugh completed the hat-trick at 12:05 to give Southern Tier a 6-3 lead heading into the third.
Arttu Rajamaki pushed the Xpress lead to 7-3 just 83 seconds into the final frame. Pavel Kovtunov scored at 11:50 to close out Lockport’s scoring. He was assisted by Chace Woods and Brandon Schweickert. Luke Grossman killed Lockport’s comeback attempt, scoring on the empty net with 1:10 left in the game. Jacob St. Andre added another insurance marker with 38 seconds to go to give Southern Tier their 9-4 victory.
Adam Partridge stopped 45 of 53 shots in the contest. Ryan Pascarella turned away 40 of 44 for Southern Tier. Lockport was 2 for 6 on the power play, while the home team was 2 for 4 with the man advantage.
The Express will next travel to Massachusetts for a pair of games against the East Coast Minutemen. These games are a pair of make-up games from November when there was an issue at the rink at the Essex Sports Center. The Express will next be home at the Cornerstone Ice Arena March 4th and 5th to take on those same Minutemen. On Friday, March 3rd, they will visit Rochester to play the Roc City Royals. That game will have big ramifications on the final playoff spot.
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