The Surrey Eagles came within a penalty shot of a perfect record during three games last week.
The B.C. Hockey League club, which now sits atop the Coastal Conference with a 10-4-0-3 record, won Wednesday 3-2 in Chilliwack against the Chiefs, and Friday at home edged the Victoria Grizzlies by a goal, 4-3. The only blemish came Saturday at South Surrey Arena, when the Coquitlam Express walked away with a 4-3 victory, with the winning goal coming on a penalty shot with 22 seconds left in double-overtime.
To that point in the three-on-three overtime, the Eagles had outshot the Express 8-2, but defenceman Steve Koshey was whistled for a hooking penalty, which set up the penalty shot goal by Malcolm McKinney.
“Getting a penalty shot with 20 seconds to go, it’s unfortunate but that’s just how it goes sometimes,” said Eagles coach Matt Erhart. “But we still took five of six points last week, and we’re happy with that. If you do that most weeks in this league, you’re going to have a pretty good year.”
Sean McGovern, Tyler Morley and rookie defenceman Devon Toews each scored in Saturday night’s loss, and goaltender Andrew Hunt stopped 36 shots.
A day earlier, the Eagles held on to beat Victoria by one goal, but the home team carried the play for much of the game and if not for a surge from the Grizzlies late in the second period could have been up by more than a goal after 40 minutes.
“We were definitely a little unlucky not to be up 4-1 or 5-1 after two,” Erhart said.
Koshey, on the power play, opened the scoring 3:43 in the game, and the Eagles went up 3-0 early in the second period on goals from Robert Lindores and Charles Orzetti. Victoria’s Braxton Bilous and Coltyn Hansen scored for the visitors before the second intermission, however.
In the third period, Eagles’ rookie Demico Hannoun scored his second goal in as many games to make it 4-2 before Victoria’s Sean Robertson added a goal of his own one minute later.
The Eagles played all week without key forwards Michael Stenerson and Brandon Morley, both of whom were playing for Canada West at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge in Langley, an international tournament that wraps up Sunday.
“Without those two guys it’s nice to see some of the other guys step up and take advantage of the extra minutes, or extra power-play time,” Erhart said, singling out rookies Toews and Hannoun specifically for praise.
“Demico scored his first career goal Wednesday, had another Friday, and unfortunately he got hurt early in Saturday’s game, but he’s a guy who took the extra ice time and ran with it,” Erhart said.
Erhart was also impressed with the play of Hunt, who was in net for all three games last week. The 19-year-old Surrey native is sixth in the BCHL in goals-against average at 2.52 and also fifth in save-percentage. He is also second among goalies in minutes-played, behind only Coquitlam starter Khaleed Devji.
Erhart said Hunt’s win-loss record of 9-5 is misleading, too – it would be better in not for three overtime losses.
“Really, he’s 9-2-3 if you break it down, and in overtime games, you can’t really pin those losses on the goalie,” Erhart said.
“He’s been really good for us all year.”
Friday’s game against Victoria served as a fundraiser for the Linda Klitch Legacy Fund, in honour of the former Peace Arch News publisher who passed away in September.
In total, $11,207 was raised through 50/50 sales, prize draws, and per-goal pledges from local businesses and individuals – which totalled $2,200 per goal.
The Eagles play a home game Remembrance Day (Friday), again against Victoria, and because of the holiday, the game is a 3 p.m. start. On Sunday, Surrey faces Cowichan at South Surrey Arena at 4 p.m.