Surrey Eagles defenceman Jeremy Smith is surrounded by stuffed bears after his goal against the Coquitlam Express Friday night sent the toys raining down from the stands as part of the team’s annual Teddy Bear Toss night. The bears were collected and will be donated to children in local hospitals at Christmas, as well as distributed through the Surrey Christmas Bureau. (Damon James photo)

Surrey Eagles pick up overtime point on weekend homestand

BCHL team drops game to Coquitlam Express on Teddy Bear Toss night

It didn’t take long for the stuffed toys to rain down onto the ice at South Surrey Arena Friday – Surrey Eagle Jeremy Smith made certain of that, scoring just six minutes into the team’s annual Teddy Bear Toss game – but the home squad was outscored after that, losing to the Coquitlam Express 8-4.

A day later, the South Surrey BC Hockey League squad – which is entering its third week under the leadership of new head coach Linden Saip – played a much closer game, and managed to pick up a point in the standings despite a 4-3 overtime loss to the visiting Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

On Friday, Smith’s goal – his ninth in 28 games this season and fourth in seven games in Surrey since being acquired from Trail – not only sent the Teddy Bears over the glass, but also helped prove his fellow blue-liner Tyler Pang right; in a pre-game interview with team broadcaster Greg Balloch, Pang – who assisted on Smith’s goal – said the defencemen needed to help kick start the team’s offence and were planning “to get more involved in the rush.”

“We’re just going to shoot everything at the net,” he said.

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Smith’s goal was the game’s second – Coquitlam opened the scoring 2:10 into the first period – and spurred the Birds onto a strong first frame that also included goals from Matthew McKim and Max Mohagen. Dallas Farrell also found the back of the net for the Express before the first intermission.

Surrey’s 3-2 lead didn’t last long in the second period, however, as the visitors exploded for three unanswered tallies, and then tacked on three more in the third period. They held a commanding 8-3 lead until Eagles’ rookie Brandon Santa Juana made it 8-4 with a power-play goal with less than five minutes to play.

Saturday night’s game went smoother for the home squad, despite the loss.

As was the case Friday, Surrey took an early lead on a McKim goal – his fourth of the year – and Caige Sterzer made it 2-0 early in the second period. Salmon Arm tied the game before the second intermission, however, on a pair of goals from Tyson Gayfer.

In the third, the Silverbacks led 3-2 until the final seven minutes, when Surrey forward Holden Katzalay tied the game on a highlight-reel marker, rushing up the ice and splitting a pair of Salmon Arm defenders before rifling a wrist shot top corner on goalie Ethan Langenegger.

With the game in overtime, Salmon Arm ended the game quickly when Cole Nisse scored 14 seconds after the puck dropped.

In both weekend games, the Eagles played shorthanded due to injuries – highlighted by captain Ty Westgard, who remains out – as well as suspensions to Liam Ryan and Cody Schiavon, both of whom were penalized four games in late November for two different ‘blow to the head’ penalties.

As a result, the Eagles played with a handful of affiliate players in both games; Coquitlam also iced an AP-heavy lineup Friday for many of the same reasons.

“That’s kind of been the game for two months,” said Eagles assistant coach Brad Tobin regarding the team’s roster crunch.

The Eagles did have a few days to rest and get healthy last week though, as the schedule provided them a rare week-long stretch without any games. Prior to Friday’s match with the Express, the team hadn’t played since the previous Friday.

“We took a couple days off… we were playing two, three games a week for a long time there so for us it was a good time to get healthy,” Tobin said.

The Eagles have just three more game before the holiday break, including two this weekend in Prince George. The Birds and Spruce Kings will square off both Friday and Saturday at Rolling Mix Concrete Arena.



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