The Surrey Eagles are moving on up.
The South Surrey-based BC Hockey League team won its lone game last weekend – a 4-1 road win over the Langley Rivermen Saturday at the George Preston Recreation Centre – and has now reeled off three consecutive victories, and won five of the last six dating back to late November.
As well, the current streak marks the first time in three seasons that the Birds have strung together three wins in a row. Making matters even more impressive is that all the wins have come away from the friendly confines – and larger ice surface – of South Surrey Arena.
“Who would have thought an eight-game road swing would be our turning point?” said Eagles head coach Cam Keith after Saturday’s win.
The Eagles now head into the final week before the holiday break with a record of 14-16-2-3 (win-loss-overtime loss-shootout loss). The hot streak has boosted them to within one point of third-place Langley in the BCHL’s Mainland Division, and – thanks to a Prince George loss to division-leading Coquitlam on the weekend – gives them a six-point cushion on the Spruce Kings for last place in the division.
Though Surrey has had its fair share of up-and-down efforts on the road this season, Saturday’s result never really seemed in doubt.
Surrey rookie Carter King opened the scoring near the end of the first period, scoring his sixth goal of the year on the power play, and newcomer Hassan Akl – who was a point-per-game player in the Alberta Junior Hockey League this season before being acquired by the Eagles a few weeks ago – potted his first BCHL goal just 3:28 into the second period.
Akl’s marker chased Langley started Braedon Fleming from the crease, and he was replaced by Kristian Lyon.
Midway through the second period, Eagles’ captain Hudson Schandor – fresh from inking a scholarship with the University of Connecticut – scored his 12th of the season to extend the lead to 3-0.
Langley’s Jake Livingstone scored just over a minute later to make it 3-1, and the score stayed that way until the final second of the third period, when Surrey’s Wyatt Schlaht scored an empty-net goal as time expired.
Surrey also out-shot the home team 37-30 and peppered Langley’s two netminders with 17 shots in the second period.
Goaltender Tommy Scarfone, who has a record of 7-1-2-2 dating back to early November, made 29 saves to earn the win.
“Any time you’re up on the road… you’re going to face a team that pushes. But they would push and we’d settle it down. We made the right plays out of the (defensive) zone and we got pucks into their zone,” said Keith.
“It was rare that we got caught out, and we just frustrated them.
“We don’t want to put too much ahead of ourselves right now but we’re setting ourselves up for a positive run after Christmas which is all you can ask for a team which now has only one returning player from last year.”
Keith was quick to point out the team’s recent run of success has come, at least in part, as a result of balanced scoring throughout the lineup – something that was important in light of the team losing leading goal-scorer Holden Katzalay to the WHL’s Vancouver Giants in late November.
“When Holden left he was second in the league in goals scored,” said Keith.
“I think there was a lot of reliance upon him. When you have a team where one guy is scoring a lot of your goals, everybody sort of watches. Once he left I think everyone realized someone has to step up and we have a good group of kids. You have to give them all the credit in the world. They’ve took it upon themselves to roll.”
The Eagles have two games left in 2019, before the junior ‘A’ hockey league breaks for the holidays. Surrey will host the Prince George Spruce Kings in South Surrey Friday night, and on Sunday at 4 p.m., they’ll host the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
After the break, Surrey returns to the ice Jan. 3 with a home game against the Chilliwack Chiefs.