The Surrey Eagles are in the playoffs.
With a 7-4 road win Saturday against the Chilliwack Chiefs, the Birds punched their ticket to the post-season, being the last team in the BC Hockey League’s Mainland Division to do so.
If they remain the fourth Mainland Division seed, they’ll square off against the first-place Langley Rivermen in the first round, but there is still a chance to overtake the Coquitlam Express for third place. The Express, who’ve lost four straight, are five points up on Surrey, and each team has eight games remaining.
Considering there was considerable turnover on the roster from last year’s BCHL championship team – nearly all the team’s top scorers from that squad are gone, as well as the head coach – making the playoffs is something of an accomplishment for the South Surrey-based team.
To compare, after the Eagles won a BCHL title in 2005, the next season they won just 16 games and finished second last in the entire league. The year after that, they won just 17 times and again missed the playoffs.
Saturday’s playoff-clinching win came largely as a result of a big second period. With the score tied 1-1 after 20 minutes – Austin Ferguson’s power-play goal got Surrey on the board – Chilliwack took a 2-1 lead 55 seconds into the second, before the Eagles exploded for four straight goals, including another from Ferguson with the man advantage.
Braeden Russell, who had a goal disallowed early in the period, also scored, as did Jonah and Nathan Renouf.
The two clubs traded goals in the third period, with Anthony Conti and Heinen – with his team leading 23rd of the season – scoring for the visitors.
Nathan Renouf finished with a goal and three assists, while Russell and Jonaf Renouf each had three-point nights.
In net, Devon Fordyce stopped 38 of 42 shots to earn the win.
The victory was the second straight for the Eagles over the struggling Chiefs, who sit last in the Mainland Division.
On Friday at South Surrey Arena, Surrey defeated Chilliwack 5-2.
Five different Eagles bulged the twine behind Chiefs’ goalie Josh Halpenny – Conti scored in the first period, Nathan Renouf, Heinen and Chase McMurphy scored in the second, and Ferguson tacked on the team’s final goal in the third.
Defenceman Matthew Dawson added three assists, and Fordyce was again between the pipes, making 25 saves.