Playing three games in three nights is a tall order for any hockey team, and last weekend the task was too tough for the Surrey Eagles.
The defending BCHL champs dropped all three games of their Mainland Division triple-header, falling twice to the Langley Rivermen – on Friday, 4-3, and Saturday, 5-1 – before losing 5-1 to the Coquitlam Express Sunday evening at South Surrey Arena.
“It was obviously not the results we wanted in any of the three games,” said Eagles head coach/general manager Peter Schaefer.
The three losses dropped the Eagles below .500 for the first time this season – they sport a 5-6 win-loss record – and they’re now fourth in the Mainland Divison, five points back of the first-place Rivermen.
While playing three in a row can be a grueling endeavour, Schaefer insisted that fatigue wasn’t part of the problem. In fact, he said the reason for the loss was, ironically, that his team didn’t really play three full games.
“We just never put a full 60 minutes together any of the nights,” he said.
“We would have spurts here and there where we played well, but it wasn’t enough.”
Surrey’s best effort, according to the first-year head coach, came in Sunday’s loss to Coquitlam in which the Eagles outshot the visitors 43-32, but could only beat Express goaltender Gordie Defiel once – a Nic Pierog shorthanded marker in the final minute of the second period.
“Our best game was definitely the third one, so I can’t really explain that,” Schaefer said. “It might’ve been a bit of desperation, and guys not wanting to lose (three in a row). But that’s how we’re going to have to play if we want to win.”
In Friday’s 4-3 loss to Langley, the Rivermen pounced on the home team and led 4-1 after 40 minutes, before Surrey mounted a comeback in the third period, scoring twice – Danton Heinen notched a power-play goal 3:29 into the third, and captain Brett Mulcahy made it 4-3 with just 11 seconds left in the game. The Eagles’ first goal was scored by Pierog, who also assisted on Heinen’s tally.
Victor Adamo was between the pipes for Surrey, stopping 21 of 25 Langley shots.
On Saturday, the two clubs renewed hostilities in Langley, and the game was much the same, with the Rivermen jumping out to a lead and holding on for the win.
James Robinson had three assists for Langley, and Austin Azurdia and Will Cook each had a goal and an assist.
The Eagles’ lone goal came from Michael Roberts, who scored five minutes into the third period.
Being the reigning Fred Page Cup champions has also put a target on the Eagles’ backs through the opening month of the season, Schaefer added – giving his players even more motivation to play their best.
“It’s not going to be easy for us in any game – teams are ready for us,” he said.
“And we’ve had a few different individuals step up in different games, but that’s not enough. At the end of the day, we didn’t get any points this weekend, so we all have to be better.”
The Eagles will have the opportunity to get back into the win column Friday, but it won’t be easy – they host the Powell River Kings, who currently lead the BCHL’s Island Division with am 8-1 record.
On Saturday, Surrey returns to the Langley Events Centre for another game against the Rivermen.