The Surrey Eagles fell from their perch atop the BC Hockey League’s Mainland Division after collecting just one of a possible four points in a weekend home-and-home series with the West Kelowna Warriors.
The fall from first wasn’t a big drop – they trail the Chilliwack Chiefs by just a single point – but the tie and the loss marked the first since mid-December the team did not win at least once on a weekend.
On Friday at South Surrey Arena, the Eagles and Warriors played to a 3-3 tie after neither team could score in overtime or double-OT, and a day later in Kelowna, the Warriors edged the visiting Birds 5-3.
Brady Shaw scored twice for the Eagles Friday, and the team had a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes – captain Brett Mulcahy opened the scoring with 21 seconds left in the first period, poking a loose puck past West Kelowna netminder Tyler Briggs after Kevin Kilistoff’s original shot hit the post.
Midway through the second period, Shaw made it 2-0 on a wraparound goal.
The Warriors won the third, however, getting goals from Matt Anholt, Marcus Basara – on the power play – and Reid Simmons, whose game-tying goal came with just over five minutes left in the game.
The Eagles carried the play for much of both overtime frames – Mulcahy and Adam Tambellini each had scoring chances, and Surrey had a power-play, too, that failed to click.
Surrey’s power play struggled the entire game, going 0-for-6 with the man advantage.
“In a home-and-home against a quality team like West Kelown, you kind of look for at least a split, and up two goals at home, we kind of gave away a point there,” Eagles coach Matt Erhart said.
The following night at Kelowna’s Royal LePage Place was a similarly close game, with both teams trading goals in the opening period, as Devon Toews and Trevor Cameron – on the power play – scored for Surrey, and Ben Tegtmeyer and Max French replied for the home team.
In the second, the Eagles’ power play struck again when Michael Stenerson gave the visitors the lead, but later in the period, West Kelowna’s Brennan Clark and Seb Lloyd scored 57 seconds apart to go up by one.
Well-travelled defenceman Josh Monk – a former Eagle who is on his fourth BCHL team – scored an insurance goal in the third to ice the game for the Warriors.
“You can’t give up five goals on the road and expect to win,” Erhart said.
“You take the losses hard, but big picture, our last 10 games, we’re pretty happy with.”
This weekend, the Eagles will have the opportunity to reclaim their spot atop the Mainland Division, with a Friday game against the Chiefs slated for Chilliwack’s Prospera Centre. On Saturday, Surrey hosts the Langley Rivermen and Sunday, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks make their lone trip to the Peninsula for a 4 p.m. puck drop.
Two more Eagles have signed NCAA scholarship agreements, as captain Brett Mulcahy committed to Holy Cross and Drew Best to the University of Vermont last week.
Mulcahy, 19, is in the midst of a career year with the Eagles, with 11 goals and 30 points in 38 games.
“I’m very excited,” said Mulcahy. “It’s something I’ve been working towards my whole life. I couldn’t be happier to go to a great school like Holy Cross. They’re second to none in terms of their academic excellence, and I think it will be an excellent fit.”
Meanwhile, Best – a BCHL rookie from Plymouth, Mich. – has 12 goals and 32 points this season.
“He’s a really good offensive player, but I think he’s really learned both sides of the game in the first half of the season. He’s been very responsible defensively, and at the same time, he has put up 30 points already which is impressive for the first half of his rookie season. It’s nice to see him get rewarded for all the hard work that he’s put in this year.”
Mulcahy and Best bring to nine, the number of Eagles to commit to the NCAA.