The Greenville Road Warriors slugged it out for over 60 minutes with the Chicago Express on Sunday at the BI-LO Center and emerged with a 7-6 overtime victory. The win improved Greenville to 29-18-3 on the season.
The Road Warriors were not looking to play the role of gracious hosts with Chicago making its first, and only, appearance in Greenville this season. They brought a ton of pressure early in the first but some big saves by Chicago’s Peter Mannino kept the Express in the game. It took a sharp wrist shot by Brendan Connolly with 4:24 left to play in the first to put the Road Warriors on the board first. The power play goal allowed Connolly to tie his own club record with a 12-game point streak. Connolly’s former teammate with the Elmira Jackals, Max Gratchev, tied the game for Chicago 21 seconds later, but Connolly set up Marc-Olivier Vallerand 1:25 after that as Greenville reclaimed the lead. Vallerand’s goal broke a 6-game goal drought. Jason Missiaen turned in 11 saves in the frame to allow Greenville to take the one-goal lead into the break.
Greenville looked to be in good shape early in the second period as Bretton Cameron finished off a 3-on-2 rush to give the Road Warriors a two-goal lead at 3-1. It was Cameron’s second goal of the week for the Road Warriors with Sean Berkstersser and Jeremy Gouchie netting the helpers. But a power play goal by Pierre-Luc Faubert at 8:49 started a three-goal burst for Chicago that took just 2:27. Josh Burrows and Chaz Johnson followed Faubert’s goal to give the Express its first lead of the game at 4-3. The Road Warriors managed six shots after Cameron’s goal but none proved to be the tying score they coveted and Chicago took the advantage into the third.
The third period proved to be just as wild, if not more so than the first two. Greenville raced out to a 5-4 lead thanks to goals by Jason Wilson and Brandon Wong in the first 4:04 of the frame. But the Express responded with a pair of goals from Johnson, a minute and two seconds apart, to cap a hat trick and restore Chicago’s lead at 6-5. But before they could enjoy the lead too much, with a power play just expired, Connolly lifted a backhander past Mannino to knot the game at six. Greenville hung on for overtime by killing 1:22 of a power play through the end of regulation then also stopping Chicago’s power play cold in the first 38 seconds of overtime. Then in the final minute, for the second straight Sunday home game, the Road Warriors earned the overtime win with Jyri Niemi blistering a slap shot home for his fourth goal of the season.
Missiaen stopped 34 shots in earning his 11th win of the season. The Road Warriors were 1-for-6 on the power play and 4-for-6 on the penalty kill.
Mark your calendars! The Road Warriors return home on Tuesday, February 14, 2012 to take on the Gwinnett Gladiators. Tuesday features the BI-LO Two For Tuesday special where you show your BI-LO BONUSCARD at the ticket office to get a free ticket with the purchase of a ticket of equal value. Be sure to stick around after the game, too, where select Road Warriors players will be auctioned off for a dinner with fans. Any group of 10 or more can also get a discount off the box office price and preferred seating based on availability by booking in advance. Call 864-674-PUCK (7825) to book your group outing with the Road Warriors. Also, please note that the Road Warriors game scheduled for March 1 has been moved to Saturday, March 3 at 7:05 p.m. at the BI-LO Center. Visit Greenvilleroadwarriors.com for more information.