Surrey Eagles score eight on Teddy Bear Toss night

BC Hockey League team earns win, tie before holiday break

Fans that packed South Surrey Arena Friday night for the Surrey Eagles’ annual Teddy Bear Toss game didn’t have to hold onto their stuffed toys long, before raining them down upon the ice.

In fact, they bear-ly had to wait at all, as John Wesley scored the first goal of the game just 27 seconds into the first period.

And Wesley – who leads the BC Hockey League in goals with 29 – was far from the only Eagle to bulge the twine Friday, as the home team rolled to an 8-4 victory over the visiting Powell River Kings in front of an announced crowd of nearly 1,300 people.

Just 27 seconds after Wesley’s goal, Connor Sundquist scored his fourth of the year to double the Eagles’ lead. The teams traded goals the rest of the period, with Powell River getting a pair from Callum Volpe, sandwiched on either side of Surrey’s third of the game, from Desi Burgart.

In the second, Aaron White and Burgart, with his second, extended the lead to 5-2, before Kings’ Hunter Findlater bridged the gap to two goals before the second intermission.

The Eagles poured on the offence in the final 20 minutes, however, with Ryan Brushett scoring twice and White adding another, all in the first 8:28 of the period. At the midway point of the frame, Powell River’s Carmine Buono scored to make it 8-4.

Wesley, meanwhile, finished the game with what’s become known as the ‘Gordie Howe hat trick’ – a goal, an assist and a fight. He added two helpers after his game-opening goal, and fought Kings’ Mitchel Williams with 3:47 left in the third period, causing both to be tossed from the game.

In fact, only one-third of the Eagles’ top line – Ty Westgard – finished the game, after Burgart was ejected in the second period after receiving a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct for a blow to the head of a Powell River player.

And not to be overshadowed by the eight-goal outburst at the other end of the ice, Eagles goaltender Daniel Davidson was sharp between the home team pipes, stopping 43 shots.

A day later in Langley, the Eagles added another point to their record after a come-from-behind effort againt the Rivermen resulted in a 3-3 tie. The two games leave the Eagles with a record of 18-13-2-2 (win-loss-overtime loss-tie) as they head into the Christmas break.

Hitting the 18-win mark before the end of December is something of a milestone for the team, which last year finished the season with 18 wins total, so unless they go without a victory over the final three months of the season, they’ll finish with their best record since the 2013/14 season in which they won 25 games.

On Saturday in Langley, the Birds escaped with a crucial point in the standings after early returns through the first 40-plus minutes suggested it might be the Rivermen leaving the rink with the win.

Neither team scored in the first period, but the Mainland-Division leaders from Langley took a 1-0 lead 5:29 into the second on a goal from Brady Berger. The home team extended the lead to 2-0 a few minutes into the third period when Connor Marshall beat Eagles’ goalie Nic Tallarico for his sixth goal of the year.

But then, the Eagles’ initiated a comeback attempt that even saw them have the briefest of leads before the game headed into overtime.

Down 2-0, Burgart, defenceman Cory Babichuk and Wesley scored unanswered goals over an eight-minute span to put Surrey up 3-2. Wesley’s goal game with just 1:02 left on the lock, but Langley tied the game 15 seconds later on a goal from John Wojciechowski.

The teams had two shots-on-goal apiece in the first overtime, but no goals, and the second three-on-three OT session also proved fruitless, leaving the teams to split the two points up for grabs.

The Eagles will return to the ice Dec. 29 for a game in Chilliwack against the Chiefs. Following that, the team will open 2018 with two more road games, in Langley and Chilliwack again, before finally returning to home ice Jan. 7 against the visiting Trail Smoke Eaters.

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