For members of the Surrey Eagles, there wasn’t much to love about Valentine’s Day, as the team lost a 3-2 heartbreaker on the road against the Chilliwack Chiefs.
The loss was the second in a row for the Eagles against their division rivals; Friday night at South Surrey Arena, the Chiefs stomped the Eagles 8-1.
While Friday’s game was something of a blowout, Saturday’s contest was a much closer affair, with the two teams tied until there were just seven minutes remaining in the third, when Chilliwack’s Craig Putter broke the deadlock, beating Surrey netminder Christian Short who was nearly unbeatable otherwise.
Short – who is among the BC Hockey League leaders in shots faced, and would be head-and-shoulders above the field had he not missed weeks with an injury – stopped 44 of 47 Chiefs’ shots in the loss, earning first-star honours as a result.
Eagles’ defenceman Latrell Charleson opened the scoring for Surrey with a power-play goal early in the first period, but the Chiefs responded with a pair of power-play markers themselves – from Tipper Higgins and Jake Hand – to take a brief lead.
The one-goal lead lasted less than five minutes, however, as Cole Plotnikoff tied the game for Surrey before the period ended.
The second period was uneventful, with neither team lighting the lamp, and the game remained tied until Putter’s winner 13:14 into the final period.
In the game’s waning minutes, the only other fireworks came when Charleson – who was chasing a puck into the corner – got his arms up near the boards, and made contact with an official, who was shoved from behind.
Charleson was given a game misconduct on the play, and while the incident will no doubt be reviewed by the league, the general consensus after the final whistle was that it was incidental contact with no malicious intent.
After the game, Charleson apologized to the referee, and on Sunday, the veteran blue-liner took to social media to explain himself.
“It was not intentional and I meant in no way to hurt the ref,” he wrote on Twitter. “After the game I apologized to the ref and we shook hands. All ended well.”
Friday’s game was equally ugly, as a result of a plethora of Chiefs goals.
With the Eagles trailing 3-1 after two periods, Chilliwack fired three quick goals past Surrey netminder Daniel Davidson to take a 6-1 lead. At that point, Short relieved Davidson between the pipes, but fared no better, as the Chiefs tacked on two power-play goals in the final seven minutes.
Plotnikoff had the lone goal for the Eagles in the loss.
Surrey will face two more Mainland Division opponents this week, beginning Wednesday in Coquitlam where they’ll face the Express. Then, on Friday, the Birds return to South Surrey to host the Prince George Spruce Kings. On Sunday afternoon, Surrey will round out the weekend with a 4 p.m. home game against the Cowichan Valley Capitals.