It was a weekend of firsts for a few members of the Surrey Eagles, but those positives weren’t reflected on the scoreboard during the team’s final homestand of the BC Hockey League season.
The Eagles lost both games of their two-game homestand – 7-3 to the Cowichan Valley Capitals Friday, and 6-2 to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs Sunday.
The losses dropped the Birds’ record to 7-45-0-2 (win-loss-overtime loss-tie) in the BCHL’s Mainland Division, and leave them needing two wins in their final four contests – all on the road – to tie their nine-win mark from last year.
Despite the losses, the weekend was not without a few positive moments, however. On Friday, captain Paul McAvoy, 19, scored all three of the Eagles’ goals for his first career BCHL hat trick.
Then, a day later, rookie forward Rob Johnson – who joined the team mid-season from the junior ‘B’ ranks – notched his first-ever goal, as well as his first-ever fight, in the 6-2 loss to Alberni Valley.
Against Cowichan Friday, McAvoy got his squad off to a good start, scoring his first goal just 54 seconds into the game, but the Capitals responded in a big way soon after, tying the game at the 2:08 mark of the first, then tacking on four more goals – including two from Jared Domin – before the first buzzer.
The second period began much the same way as the first, with McAvoy scoring in the opening minute – this time at the 44-second mark – to bring the score to 5-2, but Domin scored his third goal to restore the four-goal cushion before teammate Josh Adkinds extended it further.
McAvoy’s hat trick goal came in the third period, giving him 13 on the season.
Darius Davidson started the game in net for Surrey, stopping 15 shots before he was replaced midway through the second period by veteran Justin Laforest, who shut the door the rest of the way, stopping all 20 shots he faced.
Laforest was between the pipes Sunday, too – for the Eagles’ Fan Appreciation Night – and stopped 28 of 34 shots on goal.
Though they managed to get just two pucks past Alberni Valley goaltender Carson Shamerhorn, the Eagles got a glimpse of the future in the play of Johnson who, in addition to a goal and a spirited fight with Bulldogs’ Liam Conrad, added an assist on a first-period goal from Logan Mostat.
With their home games now completed, Surrey will take to the road for the final four games of what has been a difficult season.
On Tuesday, after Peace Arch News’ deadline, the Eagles squared off against the Vernon Vipers at Kal Tire Place, and tonight (Wednesday), they’ll hit the ice in Penticton against the powerhouse Vees – losers of just six games all season.
The four-game road trip continues to Prince George this weekend, for games against the Spruce Kings on Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday, the Eagles handed out their end-of-season hardware, highlighted by McAvoy being named the team’s most valuable player.
Jeff Stewart – a Semiamhoo Minor Hockey alum – was named the team’s rookie of the year; Laforest was named the team’s hardest worker; Gage Mackie earned “most-improved” honours and Matt Brown was named the team’s unsung hero.
Tyler Andrews was given the team’s “heart and soul” award; Tyler Cooper was named Surrey’s top defenceman and Darren Hards took the “fan favourite” title, despite playing just 28 games this season due to injury.