Surrey Eagles’ forward Jordon Funk (right) tries to squeeze past Coquitlam’s Troy Robillard in pursuit of a loose puck Sunday.

Eagles drop two on opening weekend

Head coach optimistic despite team’s offensive struggles

Despite losing both games of a BC Hockey League opening-weekend homestand, the Surrey Eagles remain a confident – and competent – bunch.

So says head coach Blaine Neufeld, who chalked up his team’s losses – 6-3 to the Langley Rivermen Friday night at South Surrey Arena and 3-1 to the Coquitlam Express Sunday afternoon – to early-season jitters and more than a little bad luck around the net.

On Friday, Surrey came out of the gate flat, and trailed their Langley rivals 4-0 after 20 minutes of play, and though they outscored their opposition 3-2 over the final two frames, the first-period hole proved too big to climb out of.

On Sunday, meanwhile, special teams, and a lack of offensive finish in general, proved to be the home team’s undoing. The Eagles scored just once despite 36 shots on Express goaltender Braden Krogfoss, and went 0-for-6 on the power play.

“I thought that we were alright. Our first period (Friday), maybe we were a little bit nervous, and we came out flat – we were a little sluggish out of the gate both games,” said Neufeld. “We would’ve liked the two points, and big picture, when you look at what happened (with last year’s struggles), we are anxious for a win, but I think there is a lot to build off of.”

In Friday’s game, Rivermen forward Ben Butcher – who played 11 games for the Eagles last season before being dealt to Langley – scored the first two goals of the game, and Justin Szeto and Matthew Graham also scored before the first intermission.

Neither team scored in the second period, and Surrey opened the third with two quick goals – Paul McAvoy scored on the power play just 35 seconds into the period, and Darren Hards scored his first BCHL goal just three minutes later.

Surrey’s third goal of the contest also came with the man-advantage, with Darius Davidson – one of just eight players returning from last year’s team – potting his first of the year.

On Sunday, Surrey trailed 2-0 after the first period, with the team’s only goal coming midway through the third, when Gage Mackie beat Krogfoss with a five-hole shot.

Goals were hard to come by in both games, and Neufeld knows his club will need to pick up the offensive slack should they want to get into the win column soon.

“We certainly out chanced them (Sunday), we hit four or five posts, but we need to find ways to score,” he said.

“On the power play, we scored twice but obviously didn’t get any on Friday, and the power play, that’s when you really need to bear down the most.”

While Neufeld admitted that no one player stood out among the rest, he was pleased with the play with import rookie centre Paul McAvoy, who finished the weekend with one goal and, according to the team’s statistics, won 68% of his face-offs.

“He had a very good weekend, and really contributed all over the ice,” the second-year coach said of the six-foot-two Kentucky native.

Neufeld was also pleased was with his team’s defence – a source of concern last season.

New goaltender Justin LaForest started both contests, stopping 35 shots Friday and 39 on Sunday. And though the team still gave up a combined nine goals, Neufeld called the squad’s commitment to defence “night and day” when compared to last season, in which the team allowed more goals-against and shots-on-net than any other team in the league.

The Eagles face a tough test this week in the hunt for their first win – they host the Penticton Vees Friday night at South Surrey Arena.

“We’ve got a tough test, for sure, but we’re not scared of those guys,” Neufeld said.

“If we can start putting a few more pucks in the net, we can win that hockey game.”

In addition to Friday’s home contest against the Vees, Surrey will play its fourth straight home game on Sunday, when they host the visiting Prince George Spruce Kings.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Surrey mayor decries ‘alarming frequency’ of ‘mob violence’ after another brawl

Surrey RCMP urge the public to come forward with information about those involved

Falling tree crushes front of SUV carrying South Surrey woman, granddaughters

Linda Simpson wants City of Surrey to review Croydon Drive trees, following harrowing experience

Keep RCMP campaign in Surrey has more support than councillor had votes

Group fighting to keep RCMP in city says it has more petition signatures than votes a Surrey councillor got in 2018 election

Delta cops not releasing name of man charged with assault, citing ‘privacy issues’

Police say man charged with assault related to a “relationship violence” incident in early November

Emergency crews responding to crash on Pattullo Bridge

Northbound traffic will be backed up for some time, Surrey RCMP say

VIDEO: Disney Plus adds disclaimer about racist stereotypes

Disney’s disclaimer is a good way to begin discussion about the larger issue of racism

New case of vaping-related illness in Quebec brings national total to 8

Quebec health minister considering tightening the rules around vaping products

Greens to vote against Liberal throne speech unless carbon targets toughened: May

Green leader Elizabeth May and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met Friday, discussing common ground

Toxic smell returns to Abbotsford elementary school raising health concerns for students, teachers and parents

King Traditional Elementary suffers daily from neighbouring waste-storage facility’s stench

First Nations ‘optimistic’ about road upgrades after Horgan visits site of fatal bus crash

Premier travelled Bamfield Main road, where bus flipped last September and two students were killed

Delays seen on some Metro Vancouver bus routes as transit strike ramps up

According to TransLink, routes in downtown Vancouver are bearing the brunt of the delays

Princeton couple pays for dream vacation with 840,000 grocery store points

It’s easy if you know what you are doing, they say

B.C. man facing 18 charges after hidden camera found in Kelowna winery washroom

The camera was found at Summerhill Winery on Aug. 23

Most Read