Surrey Eagles netminder Cale Dolan makes a save during Sunday’s BCHL game against the Cowichan Valley Capitals. (Garrett James photo)

Surrey Eagles earn win after dealing captain prior to trade deadline

BCHL squad beats Cowichan with retooled roster, call-up netminder

The Surrey Eagles shipped their captain to a division rival last week – a day before the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s trade deadline – and were once again forced to ice a lineup on the weekend that was chock full of affiliate-player call-ups.

Despite the new-look lineup, the Birds – who sit last in the BC Hockey League – still managed to nab their first win in nearly a month, beating the Cowichan Valley Capitals 4-3 Sunday at South Surrey Arena. A day earlier at Chilliwack’s Prospera Centre, Surrey lost 6-4 to the Chilliwack Chiefs.

The two-game schedule came just a few days after the Eagles traded their longest-serving player, 20-year-old forward Ty Westgard, to the Coquitlam Express, along with the playing rights to 19-year-old Aaron White, in exchange for 19-year-old forward Cole Edgerton and future considerations.

Westgard is in his final season of junior-hockey eligibility and will now get a chance to chase a BCHL championship before graduating from the league. A veteran of 160 BCHL games with the Eagles – plus a few stints in the Western Hockey League with two different teams – Westgard returned to the Eagles’ lineup this month after being out with an injury since mid-November.

He had 10 goals and 34 points in just 26 games in Surrey this season, and was among the league leaders in points before he was hurt. He appeared to adjust well to his new club on the weekend – he had four assists in Coquitlam’s 8-4 win over Alberni Valley on Sunday.

Last Wednesday morning – just hours before the Westgard deal was announced – Surrey Eagles general manager Blaine Neufeld told Peace Arch News that while the team had originally hoped to make a true push for the playoffs, injuries to key players had thrown a wrench into those plans; the team has been shorthanded nearly all season, often icing a lineup that is either short players, full of affiliate players, or both.

Neufeld told PAN at the time that he would likely try to move older players, such as Westgard, to contending teams by the deadline.

“We have a couple kids who are really desired around the league, and by giving them a chance to go elsewhere next season, we’re giving ourselves a really strong foundation for next year,” he said.

White, a 19-year-old Ohio native, began the season with the Eagles but left after just 10 games to join the United States Hockey League’s Omaha Lancers. He recently left the USHL and played last weekend with the Express.

In Edgerton, the Eagles get a forward who will be in his final season of junior eligibility next season. This year with the Express, the New Jersey native has three goals and 10 points in 30 games.

After the weekend’s action, the Eagles sit with a record of 9-30-1-2 (win-loss-overtime loss-shootout loss), but thanks to Sunday’s win, they did gain a single point in their pursuit of the BCHL’s final playoff spot. Under the current system, every team in the league except one makes the post-season, and currently, that final spot is held by Cowichan, who are now just six points up on the Eagles.

On Sunday against the Capitals – a team captained by former Eagles captain Jordan Robert – the Eagles again relied on a handful of affiliate players, including between the pipes where Semiahmoo Minor Hockey alum Cale Dolan, who plays for the junior ‘B’ Grandview Steelers, filled in, earning his first-ever BCHL victory after a 39-save performance.

Surrey trailed 2-1 after two periods Sunday, with Jake Toor scoring the lone goal from the Eagles. The team came alive in the third, however, with Dawson McKay scoring once and Riley Hayles adding two, to give the home team a lead.

The Eagles have a busy three-game week ahead of them, beginning Thursday with a road game against Coquitlam. The team returns home on the weekend for two games against Chilliwack – Friday night and Sunday afternoon.

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