The Surrey Eagles are still searching for their first win of 2015, after dropping two games last weekend.
On Friday at South Surrey Arena, Surrey fell to the Langley Rivermen 4-1, and a day later, were bounced 4-2 at Chilliwack’s Prospera Centre by the division-leading Chiefs.
With wins over the Eagles, both the Chiefs and Rivermen clinched playoff berths in the BC Hockey League’s Mainland Division, while the Eagles dropped to 7-33-0-3; their 17 points is 20 back of the fourth-place Coquitlam Express.
“They were tough losses, but both really good games,” said Eagles head coach Blaine Neufeld. “Against Langley, it felt like a playoff game. It was back-and-forth, and we really traded chances with them.”
Despite the three-goal deficit, Neufeld said the game was closer than the final score made it look.
Darius Davidson – who leads the Eagles in both goals and points – was the team’s lone goal scorer, potting his 20th of the season late in the first period, which made it 2-1 for Langley after 20 minutes.
Neither team scored in the middle bracket, and Langley extended it’s lead in the third on goals from Matthew Graham and Hunter Anderson. Defenceman Matt Barberis – who was a late cut of the Surrey Eagles in training camp and is playing major midget with the Valley West Hawks – earned his first career BCHL point when he assisted on the Rivermen’s third goal. The 17-year-old Surrey native was playing in his first game with the Rivermen, as an affiliate player.
Rookie goaltender Daniel Davidson stopped 25 shots in Friday’s loss – including a penalty shot – and Neufeld said he “played tremendous.”
On Saturday, Christian Short got the start between the pipes, stopping 29 shots.
In that game, Surrey and Chilliwack were tied 2-2 after 40 minutes – Cole Plotnikoff and Jordan Wiest tallied for the Eagles – but the Chiefs scored a power-play goal early in the third, then tacked on another goal late to escape with the win.
“It wasn’t a (typical) 4-1 game (Friday). We were only down one until late, and then they capitalized on a couple bounces, and we fell behind,” Neufeld said. “Saturday was the same thing. We’re in these games, and we’re just a bounce or two away from getting things to go our way.”
Talk of bounces aside, Neufeld admitted he doesn’t necessarily believe in teams just getting lucky breaks, and instead subscribes to the theory “that you make your own luck.”
In that regard, he said he hopes his team will be able to grab a couple victories as the season winds down, if for no other reason than it will help with his young team’s mental outlook.
“We’ve been through so much this season, and it gets to the point sometimes where if you get a bad break, you start to just expect that you’re going to lose. We have to fight our way out of that,” the first-year coach said.
On the bright side, Neufeld was pleased with the performance of his team’s two newest members, forwards Jordan Funk and Tyler Harkins.
Harkins has two assists in four games since being acquired fro the Minnesota Junior Hockey League, while Funk joined the team full-time after the Jan. 10 trade deadline saw Surrey lose young sniper John Wesley to the Western Hockey League.
Funk – who was leading the Junior ‘B’ Aldergrove Kodiaks in scoring prior to joining the Eagles – had played a handful of games with Surrey as an affiliate player this year, but was afforded permanent status when Wesley’s departure opened up a spot.
Wesley’s WHL rights were held by the Vancouver Giants, who traded him to the Lethbridge Hurricanes at the deadline, and the Hurricanes wanted Wesley to join them immediately.
“We’re happy for John. We’re all about promoting kids to the next level and helping them move on – whether it’s college or the WHL – and we’re happy to have been able to replace him with Jordan, who was one of our final cuts in training camp,” Neufeld said.
The Eagles have a busy weekend ahead of them. Today (Thursday), they’re in Prince George to take on the Spruce Kings, and the two teams will play a rematch Friday night, also in Prince George.
Surrey then returns home for a Sunday afternoon game against the West Kelowna Warriors. Puck drop is set for 4 p.m.