Sports

Eagles to face Rivermen in first round of playoffs

After facing off eight times in the regular season – with the Eagles winning seven – Surrey and the Langley Rivermen will play in the playoffs. - Garrett James photo
After facing off eight times in the regular season – with the Eagles winning seven – Surrey and the Langley Rivermen will play in the playoffs.
— image credit: Garrett James photo

The Surrey Eagles had a light schedule last weekend, winning their only game Sunday afternoon 6-2 against the Cowichan Valley Capitals.

But the more important news to come out of the weekend for the South Surrey BC Hockey League club was the announcement that they’ll face the Langley Rivermen in the first round of playoffs.

The Eagles – who clinched first place in the Mainland Division two weekends ago – and Rivermen will hit the ice for their best-of-five series in less than two weeks, with the first two games slated for South Surrey Arena on Friday, March 15 and Saturday, March 16, with the next two contests at the Langley Events Centre, Monday and Tuesday the following week. A fifth game, if necessary, will be played Wednesday, March 20 in South Surrey.

The Eagles finished the regular season with 10 more wins and 21 more points than the Rivermen, and the Birds also dominated their Langley rivals in head-to-head play. In eight games this season, the Eagles have won seven, including a 10-2 drubbing in mid-January.

But Surrey’s head coach wasn’t paying too much attention to the numbers, a day after his team’s win over the Capitals.

“Heading into playoffs, you throw out the regular-season records,” Matt Erhart said. “Every team is tough once playoffs start. It’s a short series, a real grind playing almost every day, so anything can happen.

“And Langley’s been playing really well lately. Since Christmas, really, I think the only team they’ve had trouble with is us.”

Langley also boasts the BCHL’s leading scorer in Mario Puskarich, who has 41 goals and 87 points in 54 games this season – 16 points clear of the league’s second-leading scorer.

“We have played them eight times, so we know a lot about what they’re about, so that’s a plus” Erhart added.

Erhart was pleased with the post-season matchup with regard to travel, or lack thereof.

“The last couple seasons we’ve started the playoffs against a team on the Island, so there’s been a lot more travel, but this time, travel-wise, it’s the best matchup we could ask for,” he said.

On Sunday, the Birds hosted the Capitals at South Surrey Arena in the team’s second-last home game of the regular season.

Michael Stenerson led the charge with a four-point game – scoring once and adding three assists – while Adam Tambellini also scored twice. Defencemen Devon Toews and Craig Wyszomirski each chipped in with two assists.

The game was tied 1-1 after the first period, before the Eagles pulled away in the latter half of the game, scoring five goals in 31 minutes.

“We had a bit of a slow start, which was expected after only having the one game and having gave the guys a couple days off this week, but we got through that and started scoring some goals,” Erhart said, adding that, with so many players still out with injury he “couldn’t afford to rest anybody.”

“If we rested guys we wouldn’t have enough to play,” he laughed.

The team played without captain Bretty Mulcahy, Demico Hannoun, defenceman Troy Paterson and backup netminder Glenn Ferguson.

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