A handful of times throughout this BC Hockey League season, the Surrey Eagles have found themselves on the wrong end of a lopsided score.
But last weekend – for the first time all season – the tables were turned, and it was the Eagles doling out the punishment, beating the Trail Smoke Eaters 9-5 Sunday at South Surrey Arena. The big win – just the team’s sixth of the season – came two days after a 2-2 tie, also on home ice, against the Prince George Spruce Kings Friday night. It was the first time all season that the team had gone undefeated over the course of an entire weekend.
“It was a big crowd, a big win – a really good feeling to get that one,” said Eagles head coach Blaine Neufeld Monday.
“The guys played confident and played with urgency, and they were finally rewarded for it.”
Surrey scored four goals in each of the first two periods, at one point leading 8-1, before a pair of power-play goals from the Smoke Eaters made it closer before the second intermission.
Defenceman Nick Azar led the charge offensively for the Eagles, scoring once and adding three assists, while Donovan Ott had two goals and an assist. The rest of the goals were distributed throughout the rest of the roster, with Tyler Andrews, Matthew Hermary, Kurt Black, Matthew Brown, Jackson Joseph and Brett Stewart adding single markers.
Goaltender Daniel Davidson made 36 saves to earn the win.
And though there aren’t many things that can overshadow a nine-goal showing, the goaltending performance of 20-year-old Justin LaForest in Friday’s 2-2 tie may have done just that.
The veteran keeper stopped 63 shots against Prince George.
“You don’t like to give up that many shots, and there’s definitely some things we want to clean up (defensively) after that one, but he was exceptional,” the coach said.
“Games like that for a goaltender are few and far between. We really wanted to get the win for him – it didn’t quite happen, but he was outstanding.”
Joseph – who has two goals in two games since joining the Eagles last week – and Ott each scored for Surrey.
The undefeated weekend comes on the heels of a winless road trip through the Okanagan earlier this month – the team’s games after the Christmas break, and the modest point streak bumped the team’s overall record to 6-31-0-2 (win-loss-overtime loss-tie).
Sunday also marked the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s trade deadline, at which time all junior ‘A’ teams across the country must get numbers down to 22 carded players.
Surrey was quiet on the trade front, with Neufeld making his roster tweaks ahead of the deadline. Since earlier December, the team has made a handful of moves, and signed a number of junior ‘B’ players to the active roster, among them Hunter Kero, Rob Johnson and Matt Brown. Earlier this month, the team also signed Austin Anselmo from the Kootenay International Junior League’s Nelson Leafs, and last week added Joseph from Beaver Valley and Logan Mostat, from Chase, of the same league.
“The moves we’re making give us a jump on next year,” Neufeld said.
“These are guys who were just on the cusp of making junior ‘A’ teams at the start of the year – they were late cuts, things like that – and a lot of them, they don’t need a full season of junior ‘B’ to get to that next level.
“For us, it’s essentially early recruiting, being able to bring these guys in.”