A 4-3 win Sunday afternoon over the Nanaimo Clippers salvaged a three-game Vancouver Island trip for the Surrey Eagles, who’d opened the road swing with back-to-back losses.
The Eagles began their Thanksgiving long weekend journey with a hard-to-swallow 2-1 overtime loss to the Cowichan Valley Capitals Friday night, and followed that Saturday with 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Victoria Grizzlies, who sit last in the BC Hockey League’s Coastal Conference; the win over Surrey was the team’s first of the season.
“We weren’t very good at all Saturday,” Surrey coach Matt Erhart said.
“We took some penalties, they scored on the power play… we hung around until the third period and were in it, but we just didn’t show up and play our game.”
With one point garnered from the OT loss, and two more picked up Sunday, the Eagles remained in second place in the Coastal Conference, with a record of 4-1-0-2; the Powell River Kings sit atop the standings with a 6-2 record.
“Obviously, it’s your goal to win every game, but realistically, it would’ve been nice to come away from the weekend with four points, not three,” Erhart said.
“But still, we were able to bounce back and get a win in the third game after a loss, so we’ll take the positives from that.”
Sunday in Nanaimo, rookie defenceman D.J. Jones scored what turned out to be the winning goal for the Eagles when he notched a power-play tally at the 14:34 mark of the third period to put the Eagles up 4-2.
Nanaimo’s Kyle Kramer scored with 44 seconds remaining to bring the home team to within one goal, but Surrey held on to win it.
Michael Stenerson, Devon Toews and Sean McGovern also tallied for the Eagles, while Robert Lindores and captain Tyler Morley chipped in with two assists apiece.
With starting goalie Andrew Hunt given the night off after back-to-back starts in Cowichan and Victoria, rookie Connor Barrie earned his first win of the season – and his BCHL career – against the Clippers after stopping 29 of 32 shots on net.
Rather than wear their traditional white-black-and-orange home sweaters, the Clippers wore white-and-pink threads in honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
On Saturday, the Eagles were in a position to at least earn a point against the last-place Grizzlies — the score was tied 1-1 through 40 minutes – but Victoria exploded for three goals, two of which came on the power-play, in the final period to escape with the win.
Toews added a power-play goal of his own in the third, which temporarily tied the score 2-2 before Victoria added the final two goals of the game in the final nine minutes of the game.
Forward Brandon Tanev scored a short-handed marker in the second period to round out the scoring for Surrey.
On Friday, the Eagles only goal was potted by newcomer Ben Greiner, who arrived in South Surrey last week from the United States Hockey League, where he’d been trying out with Sioux City. A Minnesota native, he played last season at Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school.
“He played well, coming in after just three days of practice and getting a couple points,” Erhart said. “And he’s only going to get better.”
The winning goal in overtime was scored by Cowichan’s Darrin Robak, with an assist going to Troy Paterson, a South Surrey native and son of former Eagles’ owner Ronnie Paterson.
The Eagles are back on home ice this weekend, with a Friday night tilt against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs and a Saturday contest against Victoria. Puck drops for both games at 7 p.m. at South Surrey Arena.
• Last week, the Eagles made a few roster moves, bringing in Greiner, while releasing California native Zach Holstrom and Hayden Trupp. Erhart said Trupp had caught on with a junior team in the U.S.-based North American Hockey League.
• Also last week, Erhart – in his second year as head coach – added the title of general manager to his job description.
“No one in our entire organization was more qualified to run the day to day managerial duties of the club,” co-owner and director of player personnel Scott Bradley said in a release. “His relationships with NCAA schools and knowledge of the league made this decision an easy choice for the Surrey Eagles.”