The victories keep on coming for the suddenly soaring Surrey Eagles.
The BC Hockey League squad won three games last week at Burnaby’s Scotia Barn – including two on the weekend – and has now earned victories in five straight games. On Sunday afternoon, the Eagles beat the Powell River Kings 5-2, and on Friday night, they shut out the Coquitlam Express by a 5-0 score. Earlier in the week, they edged Powell River 5-3.
The three-win week comes just a few days after the team exploded for 22 total goals in a tw0-game stretch in mid-April. They lead their three-team ‘pod’ division with a record of 9-2-1 (win-loss-overtime loss), which puts them six points clear of the second-place Powell River Kings, and perhaps more importantly, has them perched third overall among all BCHL teams. Surrey also leads the BCHL in offence, with 65 goals in 12 games as of Monday.
In Sunday’s win, the Eagles jumped out to a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes, with White Rock’s Buddy Johnson and Holden Katzalay scoring for the Peninsula squad, but the second period didn’t go quite as well. Former Eagle Adamo Santia scored his ninth of the season on the power play – one of three advantages that Surrey gave the Kings, including one that was a four-minute double-minor.
“Our emotions got the better of us in the second period which lead to a momentum shift,” said Eagles head coach Cam Keith. “Credit to the guys for calming down and playing through adversity.”
The team settled down in the final period, scoring three straight goals – including one by Christian Fitzgerald, who had taken the earlier double-minor penalty, just 34 seconds into the period. Alec Saretzky extended the lead to 4-2 less than 30 seconds later, and just after the six-minute mark, Fitzgerald put the game out of reach with his second of the contest.
Max Prazma stopped 25 of 27 shots to nab the victory in net.
Prazma was between the pipes Friday, too, and played 51 flawless minutes – not giving up a single goal on 26 shots, including 17 in a busy second period – before an equipment malfunction knocked him out of the game for the final nine minutes. Thomas Scarfone came into the game in relief but did not face a single shot, as the Eagles’ defence kept the Express at bay.
Offensively, the Eagles scored three goals on the power play – while only taking two penalties themselves.
Katzalay had two goals – he’s currently tied with Victoria’s Ellis Rickwood for the BCHL lead in points, with 24 – while Jimmy Darby, Holden Cardinal, Johnson and Luke Roberts also had their shots find the back of the net.
“Special teams and solid goaltending was the difference tonight,” said Keith.
“Max was tracking the puck well and controlling his rebounds. He made some big saves in the second period which ended up being the difference-maker.”
Though BCHL teams only play two, or sometimes three, hub-city competitors – the league has set up pods in five cities throughout the province – and no playoffs are planned at the conclusion of the 20-game mini-season, Keith told Peace Arch News last week that the team’s goal is to finish among the top few teams in the league.
And though each game is still competitive, the different atmosphere that comes with a season in which there will be no post-season has perhaps even helped his club – which includes many young players – the coach noted.
“We’re mostly focusing on how we can improve, and not worrying about the standings, and the byproduct of that is a bit more of a relaxed feel, and the kids have had success, and have been scoring some goals,” he said.
“it’s a little bit of a different mindset, but anytime these guys get on the ice, they’re still playing to win.”