The Surrey Eagles’ trophy collection continues to grow, and just one more – the RBC Cup – remains left in their aim.
The Eagles, already winners of the BC Hockey League’s Cliff McNabb, Ron Boileau Memorial Trophy and Fred Page Cup – for winning the Coastal Conference, regular-season title and playoff title, respectively – added a fourth piece of silverware Saturday, beating the Brooks Bandits 4-1 in Nanaimo to claim top spot at the Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup.
The victory also earned Surrey a berth in the upcoming RBC Cup national championships, May 11-19 in Summerside, P.E.I.
“At the beginning of the season, if you asked me if we would have won, it wouldn’t have crossed my mind,” said Demico Hannoun, who was named Surrey’s player-of-the-game. “But it’s a great feeling right now.”
The win over Brooks – the Alberta Junior Hockey League champions – avenged a round-robin loss a week earlier, when the Bandits jumped out to an early lead en route to a 4-2 win.
This time around, the Eagles were the aggressors in the game’s early stages, taking a 1-0 lead midway through the first period when rookie defenceman Jordan Klimek skated the puck into the slot and beat Brooks’ netminder Michael Fredrick with a hard wrist shot.
“We came into this game with a vengeance,” said forward Trevor Cameron.
“We wanted to come in and lay it to them. We had a hot start and scored a couple of early goals and then we just never stopped.”
In the second period, the Eagles extended the lead to 3-0 after a power-play goal from Drew Best – who finished off a play that started deep in the defensive zone with a long stretch pass from goaltender Michael Santaguida to Brady Shaw – and another marker from Demico Hannoun, who scored his first goal of the tournament.
In the third period, blue-liner Craig Wyszomirski made it 4-0 when his shot from the left point deflected off a Bandits’ stick and found the back of the net.
“It was a fantastic pass from chico (Hannoun)… I just put everything I had into it.”
Cam Maclise, the Bandits’ leading scorer, added a late goal for the Albertans.
Santaguida, though denied his sixth post-season shutout thanks to Maclise’s third-period tally, stopped 40 shots in the game.
“Mikey made the saves when he had to. He wasn’t overly tested for the first 30 minutes – our defence did a good job moving the puck up the ice quick, and we had a good game plan to neutralize their forecheck,” said Eagles coach Matt Erhart.
“We were really strong all night… it was a great win.”
A day after losing to Surrey, Brooks defeated the Yorkton Terriers to claim the second and final western berth in the RBC Cup.
And while getting the victory Saturday – thus saving themselves from a do-or-die game against Yorkton Sunday – was a nice bonus for the Birds, Erhart insisted after Saturday’s win that it wasn’t the most important thing.
“(Qualifying) any way would’ve been fine, you just want to get in,” he said.
“We’re excited to go and we didn’t care how we got there. We just wanted to continue to get better as the week went on, and I thought we played our best game tonight.”
The trip to the RBC Cup is the third in franchise history for the Eagles, who made back-to-back trips to nationals in 1997 and ’98. In a strange twist, the ’97 tournament – in which the Eagles lost in the finals to the Summerside Western Capitals – was also held in Summerside. A year later, the Eagles won the Nanaimo-hosted Royal Bank Cup, with a roster that included Erhart on defence.
“It’s a fun week for the organization, but our goal is to win the RBC. That’s been our goal since we started the playoffs, and this is just another step,” Erhart said.
In addition to the Eagles and Bandits, representing the west, other teams at the RBC will be the Truro Bearcats, Minnesota Wilderness and host Summerside Western Capitals.
On Friday, prior to the final two days of competition, Surrey Eagles defenceman Devon Toews – who had six assists in five games – was named the Western Canada Cup MVP, while Santaguida was named the tournament’s top goaltender.
Brady Shaw – who finished tied with Best for the tournament scoring lead with eight points – Toews and Santaguida were all named to the all-tournament team.
– with files from Greg Sakaki