Some things never change.
Despite an almost completely new roster – save for a handful of returnees, mostly at the forward spots – and a new head coach, the Surrey Eagles did last weekend what they did on many weekends in the early stages of last season: they earned a split.
In their home-opener Friday night at South Surrey Arena, the Eagles edged the Langley Rivermen 5-4 in double-overtime, and less than 48 hours later, dropped a 5-2 decision to the Coquitlam Express, also on home ice.
Through the first two weekends of the season, the Eagles sit with a 2-2 win-loss record.
Friday’s win nearly slipped away, however, after Surrey led a 4-2 lead slip away in the third period, before newcomer Jonah Renouf – who lit up the Ontario Junior Hockey League last season – scored 3:08 into the second overtime period to send the fans home happy.
“Obviously, we let them back into it in the third, but we’re still happy to get the win,” said Eagles head coach Peter Schaefer.
In the first period, Darien Craighead – a Cloverdale native – gave Langley a 1-0 lead, but the home team responded with three goals, from Danton Heinen, Nic Pierog and Colton Mackie, in the final nine minutes of the first period to take a commanding lead.
In the second, captain Brett Mulcahy scored a power-play marker to extend the Eagles’ lead to 4-1, but Langley’s Will Cook scored on an penalty shot before the second intermission to cut the deficit to two.
In the third, Langley’s Chris Forney scored on the power-play, and Nathan Craft tied the game with 19 seconds left.
Eagles netminder Victor Adamo was the star for the home team, stopping 48 of 52 shots he faced, as the Eagles were outshot by a more than two-to-one ratio; Surrey fired just 24 shots on the Langley net.
Getting outshot has been a concern for the Eagles through four games of the season – Coquitlam outshot Surrey 40-25 Sunday, too.
Schaefer said it was a problem the team planned to rectify during this week during practice.
“We have a young defence, so it takes time for them to (come together), but it’s not just them, it’s our forwards, too,” Schaefer said.
“We need to get more shots on net. We’re passing up too many shots to try and make fancy plays.”
In Sunday’s loss, Pierog and Mulcahy lit the lamp for the Eagles, who otherwise struggled, especially on special teams. Surrey went 0-for-6 on the power play, and Coquitlam scored a shorthanded goal.
Schaefer chalked up the power-play problems simply to rust, and a lack of practise time early in the season.
“We still haven’t practiced a whole lot yet, but I think it will all come together once we figure out some (set) lines here.”
Schaefer said the team would be bolstering the blue-line in the coming weeks in order to supplement the young group they currently have. Today, 19-year-old Philip Johansson – a Brown University recruit who had been playing in the United States Hockey League – was scheduled to arrive on the Peninsula, and Schaefer suggested other additions may be in works.
“Johansson’s a big, six-foot-two puck-moving defenceman, so he should be a big help,” Schaefer said.
This weekend, the Eagles travel to Vancouver Island for two games. On Saturday, they’ll face the Alberni Valley Bulldogs and Sunday afternoon will square off against the Cowichan Valley Capitals.