Eagles end season with pair of road losses

BCHL team finishes tough year with nine wins after defeats last week to Merritt and West Kelowna

The Surrey Eagles’ season ended on the weekend in the same way it started back in September – with a loss.

The beleaguered BC Hockey League club wrapped up one of the toughest seasons in franchise history with a 6-2 road loss to the West Kelowna Warriors Saturday, just a few days after the Birds dropped a 5-2 decision to the Merritt Centennials to start the short road trip.

Last month, Eagles head coach Blaine Neufeld had said he wanted his team – which weeks ago was the first team in the league to be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention – to finish the season strong with a few wins. However, since mid-February, the team was able to muster only an overtime win and a tie in six contests, finishing with a record of 9-45-1-3.

Saturday’s loss did not begin or end well for Surrey, as the hometown Warriors opened the scoring nine minutes into the game, and tacked on two more goals before the second intermission to take a 3-0 lead into the third.

Then, 2:35 in the third period, Brayden Gelsinger made it 4-0 for Kelowna with a power-play marker.

Surrey’s Andy Chugg and Cole Plotnikoff scored less than three minutes apart midway through the third period to bring the deficit to just two goals, but it was as close as the visitors would get.

Jason Cotton and Tanner Campbell scored 1:16 apart in the final five minutes to put the game out of reach.

The Eagles had no answer for the Warriors’ power play – the first four West Kelowna goals were all scored with the man-advantage.

Christian Short was in net for the Eagles, stopping 29 of 35 shots.

On Wednesday, it was Daniel Davidson who was tagged with the loss between the pipes for Surrey, though the rookie netminder finished with 31 saves.

As was the case Saturday, the Eagles fell behind by a couple goals early against the Centennials, too – Nick Fidanza and Cole Chorney scored for Merritt by the 12-minute mark of the first period.

Surrey wasted little time evening the score, however, as Darius Davidson and Lucas Stratford each scored in the final 2:36 of the first period.

In the second, Merritt’s Rhett Wilcox restored the Cents’ lead with a power-play tally, and the home side added two more goals in the third to earn the win.

Though the season was a tough one for the Eagles, some – especially graduating veterans – were sad to see the year, and their junior-hockey careers, come to an end.

“And just like that it’s over,” captain Ben Vikich wrote on Twitter Saturday night.

“Best (four) years of my life, wouldn’t have wanted to end it with any other group of guys… thanks for everyone who made it memorable.”