While playing three games in less than than 72 hours might tire out even the best of hockey teams, the Surrey Eagles showed few signs of fatigue on last weekend’s road trip, taking five of a possible six points.
And as if that wasn’t impressive enough, the Eagles exploded for 12 goals in one win, and capped the trip with a shutout victory over the first-place Cowichan Valley Capitals.
Friday, the Eagles opened the trip with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Powell River Kings – picking up a single point in the bargain – and Saturday, they crushed the hapless Victoria Grizzlies, which traded many of its top players at last week’s trade deadline, by a 12-3 margin. Then Sunday, playing an afternoon tilt less than 18 hours after their Victoria win, Surrey edged the Capitals 3-0.
Last Wednesday, before heading out on the road, the Birds defeated the Nanaimo Clippers 5-1, led by a two-goal effort from Michael Stenerson.
“This time of year, taking five of six (points) – and seven of eight for the week – is huge for us,” said Eagles coach Matt Erhart.
“We have another three-game trip coming up this weekend, so this was a good start for us.”
Surrey – winners of eight of the last 10 games – still sits in third place in the BC Hockey League’s Coastal Conference, one point back of Powell River and just three away from the Capitals.
And perhaps more importantly, they also distanced themselves from fourth-place Coquitlam and fifth-place Nanaimo; they have a five-point cushion on the Express and 12 on the Clippers.
“Putting some distance between those teams is pretty nice, even though it can change every week,” Erhart said.
Despite losing to Powell River, Erhart – who called it a “playoff-like atmosphere” – said it was a good rebound game, considering the last time Surrey played at Hap Parker Arena, they lost 7-1.
“That one really got us pumped up heading into Victoria the next night,” he said.
It didn’t take long for the “pumped up” Eagles to hit the scoreboard against the Grizzlies, either, with two goals in the first 5:09 and four in the opening 20 minutes. They tacked on five more in the second period and three more in the third to complete the rout.
Demico Hannoun had a hat trick – the first of his BCHL career – as did Brayden Jaw, who also added two assists.
Alex Hagen had a goal and three helpers, Robert Lindores had one goal and two assists, and seven other players finished with two-point nights. Only three players failed to hit the scoresheet.
“We just played our game and scored some goals,” Erhart said of the win. “It was a nice confidence boost for the sticks.”
Conor Barrie backstopped the Eagles in the win, but was not overly busy, facing just 18 shots on net.
The next day in Cowichan, the Eagles’ snipers got on the board even quicker than they did the evening before – and quicker, perhaps, than any other game in team history.
Off the opening face-off, Cowichan won the draw back to a defenceman, who was quickly stripped of the puck by Hagen, who moved up ice and slid the puck over to Lindores for a goal at the eight-second mark of the game.
“It may be an Eagles’ record, we’re not sure. We’re trying to find out,” Erhart said. “It was a nice quick start.”
Just over three minutes later, Brett Mulcahy scored to make it 2-0, and defenceman Linden Saip added the team’s third goal just two minutes after that.
For the remaining 55 minutes, the Eagles held on for the win – a cause that was helped by some timely saves from netminder Andrew Hunt, who picked up his second shutout of the year.
“Andrew played very well. He made some big saves for us the last couple periods to keep it 3-0,” Erhart said.