The Powell River Kings may have a stranglehold on top-spot in the BC Hockey League’s Coastal Conference, but the Surrey Eagles finally took over second-place, after winning two of three games last weekend.
The Eagles opened the weekend with a 2-1 loss to the Victoria Grizzlies, but won the next two, including a 3-1 win Sunday over the Langley Chiefs, the team the Birds leapfrogged in the standings. On Saturday, Surrey knocked off the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 4-2 on Vancouver Island, before returning home for Sunday’s tilt.
With a record of 29-16-1-2, Surrey sits one point up on the Chiefs, and still has four games in hand.
“People ask you how the team’s doing, and you say, ‘Third, but we have these games in hand,’ but it’s a lot nicer to actually see yourself ahead of them in the standings,” said Eagles coach Matt Erhart.
“Of course, the Chiefs play Thursday before we play again, so we could very well be back in third by the weekend, but still, it’s nice.”
With 75 points – and just eight regulation losses – on the season, Powell River would need to completely collapse in the remaining 12 games to lose its position atop the conference, but the next five teams are separated by just seven points.
“It’s tight, and you can’t afford to lose two weekends in a row or you could find yourself down in fifth or sixth,” Erhart said.
“But I’m really happy with how the guys are playing right now – even the game we lost, I thought we played really well. Both Victoria’s goals were sort of fluky, pinball-type goals.
“The guys are working hard and it’s nice to see that hard work rewarded.”
Erhart was especially pleased with his team’s defensive play; since a 5-1 loss to the Kings on Jan. 14, the Eagles have allowed just six goals in five games.
“We really tightened up after the Powell River game. We’re winning battles out there, and getting really good goaltending, and to win games on the road, you need that,” Erhart said.
Karel St. Laurent was between the pipes for all three games, stopping more than 30 shots in each.
Offensively, the Eagles got contributions from all the usual suspects. Brad McGowan had a five-point weekend – including two goals against Langley Sunday at South Surrey Arena – and blue-liner Steve Koshey also tallied five points, all assists.
Dale Hunt scored against both Alberni Valley and Langley – with both goals coming on the power play – to give him 14 on the season, while defenceman Mitch Jones scored twice Saturday, as well.
Surrey, owners of the league’s third-best power-play, were again hot with the man advantage. Three of the team’s four goals at the Saturday game, and two more Sunday at home, came on the power-play.