The Surrey Eagles picked up two of a possible six points last week, after a high-scoring home-ice victory Sunday followed a pair of earlier losses.
Sunday at South Surrey Arena, the Eagles got three goals from Ashton Calder and four points from defenceman Cory Babichuk en route to a 9-5 win over the Nanaimo Clippers.
Dario Piva also had two goals and an assist, and Jackson Ross had three helpers.
The win came three days after the Birds suffered a 6-1 defeat to their red-hot division rival Langley Rivermen – who clinched a playoff berth over the weekend – and four days after a midweek 4-3 road loss to the Coquitlam Express.
“The guns were blazing,” said Eagles coach Blaine Neufeld of Sunday’s nine-goal outburst.
“The boys worked really hard and it was nice to see them get rewarded on the scoreboard. I thought we were due for some goals – we’d been playing well lately, but just not getting the bounces.”
Despite not picking up more points last week, the team is still very much in the BC Hockey League playoff picture with just 10 games left on the schedule. Surrey sits fifth in the Mainland Division with a record of 16-29-3-0 (win-loss-overtime loss-tie) and though they’re 11 points back of the Prince George Spruce Kings for the final post-season berth in the division, they’re only six points back of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks; should Surrey finish with more points, they’ll cross over into the Interior Division playoff bracket.
Though the crossover playoff spot seems the most likely scenario, based strictly on point differential, Neufeld said his club is still aiming to catch the Spruce Kings for the Mainland spot.
“We still play Prince George three times at home, so if we take care of those games, we’re only a few points back of them,” the coach said.
The first of the three showdowns between the two clubs comes Thursday, when the Eagles host their northern rivals at South Surrey Arena.
This weekend, Surrey will head out on the road to Wenatchee for a pair of games against the first-place Wild, but Neufeld said he’s not looking beyond Thursday’s tilt, nor is he spending time running through ‘what-if’ playoff scenarios in his head.
“We’re just focused on the game at hand,” he said.
“We have some room to climb here, but we’re eager to do it… and there’s a belief that we can rattle off some wins here.”
The team’s late-season run at a playoff position will be buoyed by the fact that the team has both goaltenders – Keelan Williams and Daniel Davidson – back from injury. Davidson missed most of December with an injury, and Williams had been sidelined more recently.
For much of the last few weeks, Davidson had been manning the crease, backed up by affiliate-player call-ups.
“We’ve got them both back and healthy now, and we’re going to ride Keelan here a little bit,” Neufeld said of the veteran keeper, who backstopped the West Kelowna Warriors to an RBC Cup national title last year.
“He’s a proven winner and has the experience.”