It was an eventful weekend for the Surrey Eagles, just not one that resulted in any victories for the beleaguered BC Hockey League squad.
The Birds dropped a pair of weekend tilts – losing 5-2 on the road Friday to the Coquitlam Express, before getting squeezed out 4-3 by the Prince George Spruce Kings Saturday night at South Surrey Arena.
Saturday’s game was particularly tough for the home side, as Surrey was forced to ice a roster of just 17 players – one short of the usual – that included two affiliate players, after some late-game shenanigans on Friday resulted in a suspension for forward Sam Chatterley and head coach Blaine Neufeld.
Late in the third period against the Express, Chatterley was issued a slashing penalty. After serving his minor, he stepped out of the box and instigated a fight with Coquitlam’s Dustin Cave.
All told, Chatterley was assessed a fighting major, instigator and a misconduct.
Instigating a fight after a whistle comes with an automatic five-game suspension, as well as a three-game ban for the player’s head coach.
“They’re trying to get fighting out of the game, so it’s a severe penalty (for a coach), but I understand it,” said Eagles head coach Blaine Neufeld, who watched Saturday’s game from the bleachers as assistant coaches Brad Tobin, Craig Thomas and Chad Scharff ran the bench.
Captain Ben Vikich and BCHL rookie Tyler Harkins were the lone goal-scorers for the Eagles Friday.
The game was tied 1-1 after 20 minutes, but the Express exploded for four goals in the middle frame to take control of the game.
Saturday’s game was close early, as well. Prince George led 2-1 after 20 minutes – affiliate player Tyler Andrews scored the Eagles’ lone goal – but the visitors extended the lead to 4-1 by the 6:37-mark of the second.
Surrey made it close before the second intermission, with Spencer Unger and Vikich – on the power play – scoring for the home side.
Despite the losses, Neufeld was still impressed with his team’s resolve – especially Saturday, when the Eagles battled back from a 4-1 deficit to make it a one-goal game.
“We were really putting a lot of pressure on them late, when we were down by three, and that was good to see,” Neufeld said.
“You don’t know if they’re just going to roll over and fold the tent, but they didn’t. They battled hard.”
The Eagles hit the road this weekend, with a game Saturday in Trail against the Smoke Eaters, and Saturday in Salmon Arm against the Silverbacks.
On Monday – the Family Day holiday – Surrey is at home for a 2 p.m. affair against Coquitlam.