Garrett James photo Surrey Eagles goaltender Mario Cavaliere pokes the puck away from his crease during last weekend’s game against the Cowichan Valley Capitals.

New goalie leads Surrey Eagles to pair of wins

Mario Cavaliere posts shutouts in first two starts with new team

An impressive two-game run for the Surrey Eagles and their new goaltender came to a screeching halt Wednesday, after the surging BC Hockey League squad dropped an 8-1 decision to the Coquitlam Express.

But the lopsided midweek loss aside, there have been scant few blemishes on the record of newcomer Mario Cavaliere, the 20-year-old netminder acquired at the trade deadline earlier this month from the Ontario Junior Hockey League. In the first two games with the Birds – both last weekend – he posted a pair of shutouts.

On Friday night at South Surrey Arena, he made 29 saves in a 5-0 win over the Langley Rivermen, and two days later, at home against the visiting Cowichan Valley Capitals, he backstopped the Eagles to a 7-0 win, making 43 saves along the way. The effort earned Cavaliere BCHL player-of-the-week honours.

In between shutouts, the Eagles lost a 4-1 game to the Express, though Cavaliere was on the bench for that tilt, in favour of veteran Eagle Daniel Davidson, who stopped 24 shots. In that loss, however, the Eagles’ offence dried up, as the team managed just 18 shots of their own.

The Eagles currently sit in a three-way tie for first place in the BCHL’s Mainland Division, alongside the Prince George Spruce Kings and Rivermen; all three teams have 50 points, though the Eagles – who have played more games than the other two squads – do have the most wins of the bunch.

Had the Eagles won Wednesday – or Cowichan lost their game against Alberni Valley, which they won – they would have clinched a spot in the BCHL playoffs.

The game, however, was tilted in Coquitlam’s favour right from the start, with the home team opening up a 2-0 lead in the first three minutes, and leading 3-0 by the first intermission. At 15:05 of the second period, the Express made it 4-0, and 1:10 later, the Eagles scored their only goal of the game when Ty Westgard notched his 10th of the season.

The third period went no better for the visitors, as the Express potted four more, including one power-play marker, to win 8-1.

On the weekend, however, it was the Eagles who were filling the net, rather than the opposition. In Friday’s win over Langley, Jeff Stewart led the way with two goals and two assists, Ryan Brushett had a goal and two helpers, while Mackenzie Merriman finished the game with three assists.

The offence was even better in Sunday’s shutout victory, as the squad put up a touchdown’s worth of goals in front of an announced crowd of more than 1,100. John Wesley had two goals, while five other players also found the back of the net – Cody Schiavon, Desi Burgart, Westgard, Connor Sundquist and Chase Danol.

The Eagles have two home games set for this weekend – on Saturday against Coquitlam and Sunday afternoon (4 p.m. puck drop) against the Nanaimo Clippers.

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