On Friday in Burnaby, 406 days after their last regular-season game, 408 days after their last regular-season win, and 146 days since they last played a game at all – a 6-0 victory in an exhibition game last November, before the BC Hockey League suspended play due to provincial health orders – the Surrey Eagles stepped onto the ice for a game that actually mattered.
They snagged a win, to boot – a 5-1 victory over the Coquitlam Express – but two days later, on Easter Sunday, they dropped a 5-2 decision to the Powell River Kings, the third team in the three-team Burnaby hub. The three teams will face off against only each other over the course of the 2021 20-game mini season, which is to last five weeks.
The league’s other hub cities – all of which include between three and four teams – are Chilliwack, Penticton, Port Alberni and Vernon.
In Friday’s opener, five different Eagles found their way onto the score sheet. White Rock’s Buddy Johnson scored the first goal of the season halfway through the first period, and though Coquitlam’s Sam Marit tied it up before the first intermission, the final two periods were dominated by the Birds.
Newcomers Tate Taylor and Alec Saretzky scored in the middle frame, and Michael Abgrall – who was acquired last offseason from Powell River – extended the lead to 4-1 less than three minutes into the third. Wil Kushniryk tacked on a fifth goal six minutes later to round out the scoring.
Veteran netminder Tommy Scarfone stopped 29 of 30 shots to earn the win between the pipes.
After the game, Eagles head coach Cam Keith said, in a recap posted to the team’s website, that it was tough to single out any individual player after the opening night victory.
“Everyone contributed tonight offensively. It’s really hard to pick a standout player, which is a positive sign for our group,” he said.
Keith also noted that while the win was nice, his team’s performance was far from perfect.
“We can be better at managing the puck and playing within ourselves. The hockey will get harder as teams find their games and we’ll need to adjust accordingly.”
Sunday’s contest against the Kings was the polar opposite of Friday’s tilt, with the Eagles falling behind early instead of taking a lead as they did against the Express. Powell River scored twice in each of the first two periods and led 4-0 by the second intermission.
In the third, the Eagles clawed back to make it 4-2 on goals from Tio D’Addario and Tyson McLean, but the Kings added one goal in the final three minutes, and held onto the three-goal cushion until the final buzzer.
“As a group, we didn’t have the right mindset to find our game early,” Keith said.
The Eagles play their third game of the season Wednesday (April 7) against Powell River. On Thursday they face the Express and Saturday will play Powell River again.