There was no shortage of offence in Surrey Eagles games last weekend, but unfortunately for the Birds, most of it was provided by the opposition.
The Eagles lost all three games over a three-night stretch last week – including a pair on the road against the first-place Wenatchee Wild – and were outscored 19-5 in the process.
Surrey now sits last in the BC Hockey League’s Mainland Divison, with a win-loss record of 4-12. Earlier last week, on Tuesday, Oct. 20, the Eagles managed to stop a two-game losing streak with a victory over the division rival Langley Rivermen.
On Friday at South Surrey Arena, the Eagles couldn’t muster a goal against the Chilliwack Chiefs, despite firing 24 shots on goal in the opening two periods, and 29 overall.
“We had our chances, but we ran into a hot goalie, and couldn’t bury those chances,” said Eagles head coach Blaine Neufeld.
The Chiefs were led by Cloverdale native Darien Craighead, who opened the scoring in the first period, and also added an assist on a second-period goal from Dennis Cholowski.
After the home-ice defeat, the Eagles packed up and headed south to Wenatchee, Wash. to battle the Wild, who, despite being in their first season in the BCHL, have quickly proven to be one of the circuit’s premier teams.
Each team’s offence was in top form Saturday, as the squads combined for 12 goals in a 7-5 Wild win.
Unlike a day earlier, Surrey wasted little time getting on the scoreboard Saturday, as Owen Johnson gave the visitors a 1-0 lead just 58 seconds into the game. However, Wenatchee tied the the game just 12 seconds later, and led 3-2 after 20 minutes. Eagles’ captain Kyle Star also scored in the opening period.
The Eagles began the second period quickly, too, as Darius Davidson tied the game 3-3 with a shorthanded marker just 18 seconds after puck drop, and he scored against 10 minutes later. Wenatchee scored three in the period, including back-to-back power-play tallies, and led 6-4 heading into the third.
In the final frame, Surrey made it 6-5 on a John Wesley power-play goal, and the team pressed for the equalizer in the game’s waning minutes, until Wild’s Troy Conzo scored an empty-netter with 18 seconds left.
“That’s a game we should’ve won. It was close all the way through,” Neufeld said.
Sunday night’s tilt was not as evenly played, however, as the Wild exploded for six goals in the opening 30 minutes of play, en route to an 8-0 win over the Birds.
Though the score was far from flattering, Neufeld chalked up the result to his team playing tired and undermanned.
The team was without a handful of regulars, especially on the blue line and in net, where Justin LaForest continues to be sidelined, leaving second-year netminder Daniel Davidson to carry the load.
“We had to ask a lot of some of our young players, putting them in situations they normally wouldn’t be in, and that’s awfully tough when you’re playing your third game in three nights,” Neufeld explained.
LaForest isn’t expected back until early December.
The weekend’s barrage of goals-against did little to improve the Eagles’ overall goal differential for the season. The team – which was last in that category last year – has given up 36 more goals than they’ve scored this season, which is the worst mark in the BCHL.
Again, Neufeld chalked up the number to the recent spat of injuries, and expected it to normalize as his team moved forward.
“That wasn’t our hockey team on the weekend. That’s not our group, that’s not how we play,” he said. “We’ve been competitive all year, and every team is going to have a game or two like that. We just got ours out of the way.”
The Eagles will look to win their fifth game of the season Friday, when they head to Chilliwack to battle the Chiefs. On Sunday, they’ll head to the Langley Events Centre for a 3 p.m. game against the Rivermen.