A late goal from Jonah Renouf Saturday night in Prince George salvaged what could have turned out to be another rough weekend for the Surrey Eagles.
On Saturday against the Prince George Spruce Kings, Renouf scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal with just 1:08 left in the third period to give the visiting Birds a 2-1 advantage.
The goal – and the victory – allowed Surrey to escape their two-game Prince George road trip with a 1-1 record, and helped erase the memory of Friday night’s 7-1 loss to the Kings.
Surrey sits fourth in the BC Hockey League’s Mainland Division, with a record of 10-15-1-0, but are just one point back of the third-place Coquitlam Express, who’ve lost two straight.
Friday night’s debacle at the Prince George Coliseum began with the Spruce Kings jumping out to a 2-0 lead by the 13:17 mark of the first period, with both goals coming off the stick of Brogan O’Brien.
O’Brien completed the hat trick in the third period, scoring the team’s seventh goal.
Surrey forward Dalton Heinen tallied for the Eagles near the end of the first period, but the second frame was the visiting team’s undoing.
Prince George scored four times in the period, including a natural hat trick – three straight goals – from Brent Lashuk. Lashuk’s third goal chased Eagles’ starter Devon Fordyce from the net, and he was replaced by Bo Didur.
Surrey allowed 50 shots on net in the loss, while managing just 29 on Spruce Kings’ goalie Jesse Janks.
The following night, neither team scored in the first period, and the Eagles took their first lead of the weekend when 20-year-old forward Luke Sandler – playing just his second game in Surrey colours after being acquired from the Trail Smoke Eaters last week – found the back of the net.
The 1-0 lead lasted until the third period, when Prince George’s Jake LeBrun tied the game on the power-play. The game stayed knotted at 1-1 until Renouf’s late-game heroics put the visitors back on top.
And while a .500 road trip is often what coaches say they aim for – at minimum – it does little to help the Eagles claw back towards the top of the division. They still trail the division-leading Langley Rivermen by 11 points, and the Eagles have not have a winning weekend since mid-October, when they earned a win and a tie against Prince George. The team has yet to have a weekend in which they won every game.
Head coach Peter Schaefer has, in recent weeks, stressed consistency, especially in the defensive end of the rink. And while he’d mentioned before the Prince George road trip that he’d seen signs of improvement, giving up seven goals Friday may suggest otherwise.
Surrey has given up 102 goals through 26 games this season, which is tied for third-worst in the BCHL, alongside Chilliwack. Only Trail and Alberni Valley have given up more.
On the flip side, they’ve scored the second-most goals in the Mainland Division, and boast two of the league’s top-five goal-scorers in Brett Mulcahy (second, with 18 goals) and Nic Pierog (fourth, with 17).
This weekend, the Eagles head back out on the road for a Friday tilt with the Merritt Centennials, before returning home Saturday to host the Cents at South Surrey Arena.
The Eagles also have a rare midweek home game next Wednesday, against Coquitlam.
In order to acquire Sandler – the Illinois native who made his Eagles debut last weekend – from the Trail Smoke Eaters, Surrey send forward Michael Roberts to Trail.
Roberts, 18, had four goals and eight assists in 24 games with Surrey this season. He was acquired in the off-season from Vernon as part of the Adam Tambellini trade that also sent Mason Blacklock, Jordan Klimek and Demico Hannoun to Vernon.
Sandler, a six-foot-three, 205-pound forward, had not played in the BCHL this season – he had been with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL – but last year with Trail scored 22 goals and added 21 assists in 50 games.