The Surrey Eagles lost both games of the BC Hockey League Showcase event last weekend in Chilliwack, with both defeats coming in wildly different fashions.
In the team’s regular-season opener Friday, the Birds – who have chosen to ice a young, mostly-local lineup this year – were nearly run right out of the Prospera Centre by the high-powered Penticton Vees, who scored nine goals in the final 40 minutes en route to an 11-2 victory.
Surrey’s second game, played Sunday evening against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, was a much better effort – especially from goaltender Christian Short – from the Peninsula bunch, but it still resulted in a loss, as the Eagles coughed up an early lead and lost 4-3 in double, three-on-three overtime.
In Friday’s opener, the Eagles and Vees battled to a draw through the first period, with Surrey taking a 1-0 lead midway through the frame on a power-play goal from Chase McMurphy, but the Vees responded less than three minutes later on a goal from Lewis Zerter-Gossage.
Penticton’s Joshua Laframboise made it 2-1 for the Okanagan squad 1:08 later, and the lead stood until the final five minutes of the period, when Eagles’ forward Darius Davidson scored – with assists to John Wesley and McMurphy – to tie the game.
Despite the even score, the flow of the game was heavily tilted in favour of the Vees – they outshot Surrey 21-6 in the first 20 minutes – and it was a sign of things to come after the first intermission.
The Vees scored four unanswered goals in the middle period – including power-play markers from Jack Ramsay and Zerter-Gossage.
Zerter-Gossage completed his hat-trick 2:32 into the third period – which gave the Vees a 7-2 lead – and the Vees tacked on four more goals for good measure, including a final tally, also on the power play, from former Eagle Demico Hannoun,
Hannoun played for Surrey during the team’s Royal Bank Cup run two seasons ago, and was re-acquired by the Eagles last summer, before being flipped to Penticton for the rights to Alex Coulombe, who is playing in Quebec.
Short, a 19-year-old first-year player, took the loss in net for Surrey, lasting just two minutes into the third period before he was pulled in favour of 16-year-old rookie Daniel Davidson.
Despite a rough welcome to the BCHL – eight goals on 40 shots – Short was nothing shy of spectacular in the Eagles’ second game of the year, on Sunday.
Against Salmon Arm, the towering six-foot-four netminder kept the Eagles in the game, stopping 55 of 59 shots on net, including 21 in the first period and 17 more in the third.
The Eagles spotted their goaltender – whom head coach Blaine Neufeld said already has college scouts sniffing around – a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes, on goals from Trevor MacLean and Ty Westgard, who scored twice in 2:02.
In the second period, however, the Silverbacks stormed back with three goals of their own – one shorthanded, two on the power play – and neither team bulged the twine in the third period, sending the game to overtime.
In the second OT period – which was three-on-three – Taro Hirose finally broke the deadlock for Salmon Arm.
The Eagles will look to break into the win column at home this weekend, when they host the Chilliwack Chiefs Friday at South Surrey Arena. On Saturday, the two division rivals will travel to Chilliwack for a rematch, before the Eagles concluding their busy weekend Sunday afternoon with a home game against the visiting Prince George Spruce Kings.
Though the sample size is admittedly small, the Eagles will no doubt be looking to improve their special teams play in the coming games.
The penalty kill was something of their Achilles heel in the first two games, giving up five power-play goals on 13 opportunities. And while they were OK on the power play themselves – scoring twice on 11 chances – they also gave up a shorthanded marker.
Prior to Friday’s season-opener, the Eagles named McMurphy the team’s captain for the coming season. In addition, Joe and Brian Drapluk, along with Darius Davison, will wear ‘A’s as alternate captains.