Last week was one to forget for members of the Surrey Eagles, though considering how it ended – with one of the most lopsided defeats in years – it’s unlikely to fade from memory any time soon.
On Saturday, the Eagles – playing their second road game in as many nights, and their third game in four days – lost to the Trail Smoke Eaters by a score more befitting a football game: 19-3.
The loss came a day after the Birds were in West Kelowna, where they were dropped 5-2 by the Warriors.
On Thursday at South Surrey Arena, the Eagles picked up a single point in the standings after a 4-3 overtime loss to the Coquitlam Express.
While the trio of losses moved the squad further out of the Mainland Division playoff picture – they now trail fourth-place Prince George by 12 points and third-place Langley by 14 – they kept pace with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, who are just five points up on the Eagles for the Interior Division’s final postseason berth.
If the Eagles – who were also five points back before last week’s games – can surpass Salmon Arm, they’ll cross over into the Interior Division playoffs as per the league’s new postseason format.
Surrey now sports a 14-26-3-0 record (win-loss-overtime loss-tie).
Though the team’s playoff hopes are in no worse shape, statistically, than they were prior to the weekend, Saturday’s loss will no doubt sting, especially considering that the deals the team made at last week’s trade deadline were made in an effort to shore up the team’s defensive play.
Last week, after shipping out veteran defencemen Nick Minerva and Tyler Cooper and replacing them with a pair of defensive-first blue-liners in Domenic Masellis and Landon Fuller, Eagles’ head coach Blaine Neufeld told Peace Arch News, “We want our backend guts to be guys we trust in our d-zone… we’ve got forwards to get points – we need our defenders to defend.”
While team and league records are spotty from the BC Hockey League’s early years – when statistics were recorded by hand and sent to media and the league’s head office by mail and over the phone – it’s likely that the 16-goal margin of defeat is the worst in Eagles’ history. It’s not, however, the worst defeat in league history – far from it, in fact.
In the wild, free-wheeling 1980s, 20-goal games were posted sporadically, many by the powerhouse Penticton Knights, led at consecutive years by future National Hockey League stars Brett Hull and Joe Murphy.
In 1985, the Murphy-led Knights defeated the Salmon Arm Totems 28-5 in a game that according to the BCHL, is the highest one-game goal total by a team in league history.
On Saturday, the Smoke Eaters – who sit in the middle of the Interior-Division pack with a 20-19-4-0 record – scored seven goals in the first period, compared to just two for the visiting Eagles, and continued to pour on the offence over the final 40 minutes, scoring five more times in the second and seven in the third period.
Surrey – playing without veteran starter Keelan Williams – were led by defenceman Cole Williams, who had a goal and an assist, while the team’s other goals were notched by Jacob Dupont and Darius Davidson.
Against the Warriors on Friday night, the Eagles found themselves down 3-0 after the first period before scoring twice in the final two frames, with captain Paul McAvoy and Nick Fea scoring the team’s two goals.
In Thursday’s overtime loss, it was the Eagles who scored early, as Ty Westgard and Darius Davidson gave the home team a 2-0 lead in the first period, but the Express scored three times in the final 40 minutes – with Jeff Stewart replying for the Eagles – to send the game to overtime, where Coquitlam’s Brandon Kennedy scored his first goal of the season to give his team the victory.
Mitch Newsome – a Surrey native and former Valley West Hawk – assisted on the winner and also added a goal for the Express.
The Eagles will aim to get back into the win column – and perhaps get a measure of revenge on the scoreboard – when they host Trail Thursday, 6:30 p.m. at South Surrey Arena.
On Sunday, they’ll also play a home game, 4 p.m. against the Chilliwack Chiefs.