In the 1977 classic movie Slapshot, Charlestown Chiefs goaltender Denis Lemieux – in a bid to find out who’s in charge – famously asks “Who owns the Chiefs?”
And while the answer to the goalie’s question wasn’t the Surrey Eagles, they certainly had their way with the Chiefs – Chilliwack, not Charlestown – last weekend, winning twice to stake themselves to a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five second-round series.
On Friday, Surrey out-gunned the Chiefs 4-0, and followed up Saturday at South Surrey Arena with a come-from-behind 5-4 win.
The Eagles are now just one win away from advancing to the BC Hockey League’s Coastal Conference finals. Game 3 of the series shifted to Chilliwack Monday night, but the game was played after press deadline.
In Game 1, the Eagles scored early and often, taking a 1-0 lead just 46 seconds into the game when Brady Shaw scored his third goal of the playoffs.
Demico Hannoun – who had a pair – and Trevor Cameron also bulged the twine behind Chilliwack netminder Mitch Gilliam before the first intermission.
With a 4-0 lead, the Eagles went into more of a defensive mode for the remaining two periods, as neither team was able to score over the final 40 minutes.
“We had a really good start in the first, obviously, scoring the four goals,” said Eagles head coach Matt Erhart. “And after that, we just played a real simple game with the lead, and kind of held on.”
Michael Stenerson picked up a pair of assists, and goaltender Michael Santaguida picked up his league-best second shutout of the post-season, stopping all 35 shots he faced. One of his best saves came in the second frame when he stopped Chiefs’ Ryan Donohoe from in close, and Josh Hansen also hit the post in the same period.
The only negative for Surrey was the team’s misfiring power-play, which went 0-for-10.
The Eagles scored first Saturday, too – Cameron converted an Adam Tambellini pass at just past the eight-minute mark of the first period – but unlike Friday’s affair, the lead didn’t last.
Chilliwack scored three times in the second period – two off the stick of Donohoe, including one short-handed – and Austin Plevy added the other.
Cameron again scored for the Eagles, who trailed 3-2 heading into the third period.
In the third, it was Cameron again who drew the Birds even, completing his hat trick 7:30 into the third period when his shot from the slot beat Gilliam.
Surrey took the lead five minutes later when Nic Pierog slid the puck into the net during a goal-mouth scramble.
Stenerson – who is third on the team with seven points in six playoff games – and Chillwack’s Spencer Graboski – who scored with his team’s net empty – traded goals in the final four minutes but the home team couldn’t get the equalizer.
“We knew they’d come out really hungry, and they’re a very good team – they only had two less wins than us during the regular season,” Erhart said. “But we’ve come back from being down a goal before, and there was no panic in our game.
“Going into the third, we just wanted to win the period, and that way we’d at least get it to overtime. But we knew we still had a chance to win it, too.”
Again, the Eagles’ normally potent power-play sputtered, going 1-for-6.
With the series shifting to Chilliwack for the next two games, Erhart said the game plan would remain the same.
“Hopefully, for us, nothing changes,” he said. “We’ve beat them at home twice since Christmas, but they’re a good team. I assume it’ll be another good, close game.”
If Chilliwack wins Monday to extend the series, Game 4 would be tonight (Tuesday) in Chilliwack. Game 5, if necessary, would be Wednesday in South Surrey.
In the other Coastal Conference semifinal, the Alberni Valley Bulldogs lead the Victoria Grizzlies 2-0. Game 3 was played Monday night in Victoria.
In the BCHL’s Interior bracket, the West Kelowna Warriors and Penticton Vees are the last two teams standing, and will face off in Interior Conference finals March 29.