For the first time in three weeks, the Surrey Eagles lost a game in regulation time, failing to make up any ground in their run at first place in the BC Hockey League’s Mainland Division.
Friday at South Surrey Arena, the Eagles fell 2-1 to the first-place Chilliwack Chiefs – who had won four in a row heading into the game and sit six points up on the second-place Eagles. For Surrey, it was the first non-overtime loss since an Oct. 27 defeat to the Langley Rivermen.
On Friday, Chilliwack opened the scoring late in the first period when, with his team on the power play, Chiefs sniper Josh Hansen scored his BCHL-best 17th goal of the campaign.
The visitors doubled the lead in the middle frame when, with the Chiefs killing a penalty, David Thompson snapped wrist shot from the top of the circle that beat Surrey goalkeeper Michael Santaguida.
The game stayed 2-0 until the final stages of the third period, when, with just 2:07 left to play, Surrey forward Demico Hannoun used a nifty toe-drag move out of the corner and fired a shot towards Chillwack goalie Mitch Gilliam. The Chiefs’ netminder made the initial save but Hannoun – who is second on the Eagles with nine goals – pounced on his own rebound to cut the lead to 2-1.
It was as close as the home side would get, however, as Gilliam and his teammates kept the Eagles – who pulled Santaguida for the extra-attacker – at bay over the final seconds.
The game was a rough one for the Eagles’ special teams, who not only gave up power-play and short-hander markers, but also went 0-for-6 with the man-advantage themselves.
Overall, Surrey finds itself ranked in the middle of the league in both power-play and penalty-killing efficiency, but they struggle on home ice; at home, they are 13th out of 16 teams on the power play, and they are last when shorthanded, successfully killing just 74.5 per cent of penalties at South Surrey Arena.
Despite the relatively light weekend schedule, the Eagles did play one game earlier in the week, a Nov. 12 affair at home against the Coquitlam Express, which Surrey won 6-1 on the strength of a Drew Best hat-trick and three assists from defenceman Craig Wyszomirski.
Stefan Burzan, Nicolas Pierog and Hannoun also scored, while Brady Shaw – playing against his old team – and Brett Mulcahy had two assists each.
The Eagles head north this weekend, for Friday and Saturday games in Prince George against the suddenly reeling Spruce Kings, who started off the year red hot but who have been struggling of late with just one win in the month of November.
On Tuesday, Nov. 27, Surrey travels to Langley to take on the Rivermen before finally returning home to Nov. 30 for a game against Coquitlam.
That tilt will also serve as the team’s annual Teddy Bear Toss game, where fans are encouraged to bring stuffed toys to the game, and toss them on the ice when the Eagles score their first goal. The toys are then collected for charity.