John Wesley was the story for the Surrey Eagles over the weekend. Unfortunately, his highlight-reel performance didn’t result in consecutive wins.
After an impressive 4-1 win over the Prince George Spruce Kings at South Surrey Arena on Friday, the Eagles went into a tough matchup against the league-leading Vernon Vipers on Sunday.
Midway through the second period, the Eagles had a 3-1 lead on the visiting team. They couldn’t hang on to their lead, allowing four unanswered goals before eventually losing 5-4.
“I thought we carried the play on Sunday early on, but it was a back and forth game,” said head coach Brandon West. “I thought we had a lapse in the second where we took some penalties and it hurt us.”
The Vipers scored two powerplay goals in the second period to claw their way out of a 3-1 deficit. They bagged two more goals in a tight third period to win the game.
RECAP: Johnny Wesley turned in a tremendous performance, scoring four times in a 5-4 loss to the Vernon Vipers on Sunday evening. pic.twitter.com/cbfAVKMswY
— Surrey Eagles (@SurreyEagles) October 2, 2017
It’s not too often that a player scores four goals in one game during a losing effort, but that’s exactly where Wesley found himself on Sunday night.
His four-goal game capped off an impressive weekend. Wesley also registered a goal and an assist in the team’s 4-1 win over the Spruce Kings, giving him six points in two games.
“Johnny has been a threat, but he brings a lot more than just offence,” said West. He’s a good 200-foot player, and he brings a lot of leadership to our group. We aren’t surprised to see him with nine goals.”
Wesley’s offensive contributions almost single-handedly propelled the Eagles to victory on Sunday. His nine goals are currently tied for second overall in the BCHL. Only Kale Howarth, a 2017 fifth-round selection of the Columbus Blue Jackets, has more goals with 10 on the year.
Wesley was expected to be a large part of the offence this season. The 20-year-old comes to the Eagles after spending last season with the Vancouver Giants in the WHL.
Just to put Wesley’s goals into perspective, his nine goals account for nearly half of the Eagles offence this season. They’ve scored 21 goals as a team, leaving Wesley with 43 per cent of the team’s goal share.
Even though the offence seems lopsided, West believes that there’s more to come from the rest of his team.
“We’re going to be a team that scores by committee. Some of our guys are a little snake-bitten right now. We’ve got some pretty solid players on our team.”
Despite the statistics saying otherwise, there were signs over the weekend that the offence will start to come from elsewhere.
During the Eagles 4-1 victory over the Spruce Kings on Friday, Wesley wasn’t the team’s leading offensive contributor. 18-year-old Desi Burgart scored two goals in the victory, giving him four goals on the season.
The line of Wesley, Burgart and Ty Westgard is leading the team offensively right now. Westgard is the set-up man on that line with a team-leading eight assists.
Friday’s win was also a well-rounded one for the Eagles. They controlled the game from start to finish, outshooting the Spruce Kings 33-14 in the victory.
“I thought we controlled a lot of the play throughout the game,” said West. “I was very impressed with our performance.”
The win showed that the Eagles can keep up with some of the league’s better teams. West was disappointed after the Eagles dropped a pair of road games to the Spruce Kings earlier in the season.
West’s team does get a shot at redemption this weekend, as the Eagles will return to the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena in Prince George for two more road games tonight (Friday) and tomorrow. The games will be vital for the Eagles if they want to gain some ground on the division-leading Spruce Kings.
The Spruce Kings lead the Mainland Division with 11 points on the season.
“I was happy with how we responded on Friday night,” said West. “Now, we need to have a good start next Friday night.”
“We need to go up there and take four points, but we’re going to take it one game at a time.”