Newcomers lead Eagles to first win of season

Ashton Calder scores hat-trick in his first BCHL game to lead Surrey Eagles to 8-2 win over the Chilliwack Chiefs.

There were plenty of firsts to celebrate last week for the Surrey Eagles, as the team snagged three of a possible four points from the division rival Chilliwack Chiefs.

The Eagles – who had been winless through the first three weeks of the BC Hockey League schedule – put their first notch in the win column Thursday with a convincing 8-2 victory over the Chiefs. In a rematch two days later, the Chiefs edged the Eagles 5-4 in double-overtime, but the Birds picked up a single point for their efforts.

Thursday’s offensive outburst was led by newcomer Ashton Calder – acquired earlier in the week from the Minnesota Wilderness of the North American Hockey League – who had three goals and an assist in his first-ever BCHL game.

Adding to the collection of firsts were fellow rookie forwards Nick Fea and Jordan Robert, each of whom scored their first career BCHL goals as well.

“We were told he can score goals and he  has shown that in his first game,” said Eagles coach Blaine Neufeld. “We just want our boys, including Ashton, to build consistency and put together that effort every night.

“We know that we can win, we saw that we can win convincingly, so now our plan is to just keep winning.”

Surrey’s new goaltender Michael Botiz, who will team up in the crease with Daniel Davidson after veteran Marc Audet was released, stopped 24 of 26 shots – including a penalty shot – to earn his first win in Eagles’ colours.

“(Botiz) was the spark that we needed. He made some real timely saves – including a penalty shot,” said Neufeld.

Botiz, a native of Oakville, Ont., was acquired from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks prior to Thursday’s game.

In addition to the goals from Fea, Robert and Calder – who is already committed to the NCAA’s Lake Superior State University – Surrey got goals from captain Paul McAvoy, Jeff Stewart and Desi Burgart, while defenceman Nick Minerva added three assists.

Minerva – who is in his first season in Surrey – has nine points in eight games, putting him second in BCHL scoring among blue-liners, just one point back of Chilliwack’s Connor McCarthy.

Two days after getting their first win, the Eagles nearly made it two in a row, but were tagged with the loss when Chiefs’ Jordan Kawaguchi scored in the second overtime to seal the win for the home side.

Most of the offensive fireworks occurred in the opening 20 minutes of the game, with the two squads combining for five goals.

Surrey took an early lead on a goal from Burgart – an assist to Calder gave him five points in four periods – but Chilliwack replied less than five minutes later on a goal from Jake Smith.

The Eagles scored twice more in the first, with Robert Johnson and Darius Davidson goals sandwiched around a Chiefs’ marker from Tommy Lee.

Kawaguchi tied the game at 3-3 with the only goal of the second period, and each team scored twice in the third – Jacob Dupont gave Surrey a 4-3 lead 1:53 into the third, and Chilliwack’s Linden Hora tied it four minutes later.

Botiz again shone in net for the Eagles, making 39 saves; Surrey was outshot 44-26 in the game.

The Eagles now sport a 1-6-1-0 record (win-loss-overtime loss-tie) and sit sixth in the Mainland Divison.

Surrey hits the road this weekend for a two-game trip to the Okanagan, beginning Friday night in Vernon against the Vipers, and wrapping up Saturday in Salmon Arm against the Silverbacks.

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