The Surrey Eagles are heading north with a commanding lead in their second-round playoff series against the Prince George Spruce Kings.
On Tuesday night at South Surrey Arena, the Eagles – competing in BC Hockey League playoffs for the first time since the 2013/14 season – defeated the visiting Spruce Kings 4-0 to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven showdown.
The two teams now head to Prince George for Game 5 Thursday night. An Eagles’ victory will see them clinch the series and move on to the third round – a place they have no been since their 2013 run to the RBC Cup national championship.
Tuesday’s game featured four different goal-scorers for the Eagles, but the star was goaltender Mario Cavaliere, who stopped 23 Prince George shots for his first BCHL post-season shutout, and his fourth overall since joining the team from Ontario at the junior-hockey trade deadline back in January.
“It’s a lot easier to play when you know you have a wall (in goal) behind you,” said Eagles assistant coach Linden Saip, in a post-game story posted to the team’s website.
“Mario’s been a huge part of our success. He’s definitely been a difference maker in both series so far.”
Playing in front of a crowd of more than 1,000, the Eagles wasted little time jumping on their visiting rivals Tuesday. John Wesley – whose 37 regular-season goals tied him for the league league – opened the scoring less than six minutes into the game, and 48 seconds later, Matthew Campese doubled the lead.
Before the first intermission, Jeff Stewart – coming off a two-goal performance in Game 3 Monday night – tacked on another to extend the lead to 3-0.
Neither team scored in the middle frame, and defenceman Jackson Ross – who recently committed to play next season at Colorado College of the NCAA – scored on a third-period power play to round out the scoring.
Ross currently leads all BCHL defencemen in playoff scoring, with three goals and eight assists.
Under the league’s current playoff format – which has changed plenty over the years – the winner of Surrey and Prince George’s Mainland Division tilt will battle the champion of the Island division in the Coastal Conference final.
From there, the Coastal champ will move on to play the Interior Division winner in the BCHL’s Fred Page Cup championship game.