The Surrey Eagles were busy last week both on, and off, the ice – winning twice while also making a pair of trades.
On Friday in the Okanagan, the South Surrey-based BC Hockey League squad earned a 4-3 victory over the Vernon Vipers, and a day later in Trail, followed up with a 3-2 win over the Smoke Eaters.
The team also bolstered its blue line with a pair of recent trades for defencemen; last Thursday, the team announced it had made two deals, acquiring Jordan Hendry – a Semiahmoo Minor Hockey alum – from the Powell River Kings, and Brendan Kim from the Vernon Vipers. In both swaps, Surrey sent future considerations the other way.
Last weekend’s road victories boosted the Eagles into a fourth-place tie in the Mainland Division, with a record of 11-15-2-3 (win-loss-overtime loss-shootout loss).
Saturday’s win in Trail – in front of an announced crowd at Cominco Arena of more than 2,500 fans – was largely the result of a strong third period. With the score tied 1-1 after 40 minutes, the Eagles scored twice in the first 7:33 of the third frame – Christophe Tellier potted his 16th of the season while Brandon Santa Juana scored his eighth – and though Trail bridged the gap to 3-2 when BCHL leading scorer Kent Johnson scored with 59 seconds left, the Eagles held on for the win.
In net, Surrey’s Thomas Scarfone stopped 28 of 30 shots to earn the win, and was especially sharp in the game’s early stages when the home team was pushing hard on offence. Halfway through the first period, he made a diving stop on Johnson that the team, on its website, described as “arguably his best save of the season.”
Eagles head coach Cam Keith called the win a “huge character test for our boys.”
“Playing in one of the toughest rinks in the BCHL, with probably the best offensive group, and we shut them down,” he said. “We played a hard 60, we made them earn every chance that they had. I mean, to give up 17 shots after 2 periods to give ourselves a chance to win, it’s just an incredible effort from our group.”
Keith was especially complimentary of his netminder.
“He makes things look easy. I think there’s a lot of opportunities that we probably don’t think of as big of a opportunity because he makes the saves look routine at this point,” Keith said.
“In Tommy (we) trust is the best way to put it.”
Scarfone was equally impressive between the pipes a day earlier in Vernon, stopping 34 saves en route to the win. Surrey also scored a pair of power-play goals, which proved to be the difference in the game.
“Tommy obviously made some real big saves early in the first that kept us in it. That was a big part of the win. I don’t think we can recuperate the same unless he keeps it close,” Keith said.
Tellier scored twice, and Santa Juana and defenceman Brett Bliss each scored once.
Friday’s game was also the Eagles debut for Kim, who faced off against his former team just 24 hours after being traded.
“I wanted more experience back there,” said Keith of acquiring the two-year BCHL vet. “We’re still pretty young on the back end. (Owen) Nolan, Bliss and (Cade) Alami are all still rookies so it’s nice to have an older guy who can calm things down.”
The new blueliners also allow Keith to move J.J. Fecteau back to the forward ranks. After joining the team as a forward, he was moved to the blue-line to fill a team need.
The two trades follow another late-November swap for high-scoring forward Hassan Akl, who was acquired from the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Calgary Canucks in exchange for forward Jesse Carr and the junior ‘A’ playing rights to Liam Freeborn.
Akl was a point-per-game player in the AJHL this year.
Now returned from their Interior Division road trip, the Eagles won’t have much time at home before hitting the road again this week. On Friday, the squad will head to Powell River for a game against the Kings, and on Saturday, they’ll move on to Nanaimo for a date with the Island Division-leading Clippers. Their busy three-games-in-three-days trip concludes Sunday with a game in Victoria against the Grizzlies.