Junior A hockey Eagles flock together on northern trip

A January road trip to Prince George doesn’t make anybody’s dream list of weekend getaways, but it may have been a good thing for the Surrey Eagles.

With new faces in unfamiliar places, the defending B.C. Hockey League champions managed to scrape up a single point from two games with the host Spruce Kings. Prince George won the opener Friday 6-3 and then needed overtime to subdue the Eagles 4-3 the following night.

Fresh off a flurry of deal at the BCHL’s trade deadline that saw two veteran leaders shipped out in exchange for promising younger forwards, a two-game set in the league’s northernmost outpost was an opportunity for the new players to gel with the rest of the flock.

“That road trip was good for us as a team just for guys to get to know each other a bit better,” said Eagles coach Peter Schaefer. “We have some new faces and

guys have to sort out what roles they fall into. The guys were communicating and having fun and that’s definitely a positive for us.”

The two teams opened the weekend Friday where the Spruce Kings rattled off four straight goals to build an insurmountable 5-1 advantage before the third period was two minutes old. Surrey scored a pair of goals to cut the gap to two only to have the hosts ice the match with an empty netter.

Newcomers Chase McMurphy and Anthony Conti each scored once for the Eagles, while Nathan Renouf chipped in with a third period power-play marker.

Saturday’s rematch featured a thrilling finish to regulation with both teams scoring in the final 91 seconds. The Spruce Kings’ second goal of the period put the home team up 3-2, but the Eagles battled back and forced overtime with a goal from rookie Danton Heinen with 26 seconds left.

Prince George forward and Surrey native Justin Rai spoiled the Eagles comeback when he completed his hat trick with the winning goal in the extra session.

Quinn Lenihan and Kale Bennett also scored for Surrey.