Surrey Eagles goaltender Cal Schell does his best to look around Penticton Vees forward Jackson Niedermayer during a game last weekend in South Surrey. (Damon James photo)

Surrey Eagles pick up three points against BCHL foes

South Surrey junior hockey squad set for six straight home games

After picking up three of a possible six points on the weekend, the Surrey Eagles are aiming to make up ground in the BC Hockey League standings during a homestand that will see them stick close to South Surrey Arena for the next two weeks.

Last weekend, the Birds lost on Friday – 5-3 to the visiting Penticton Vees – before rebounding Saturday in Chilliwack, edging the Chiefs in front of nearly 2,000 fans at the Chilliwack Coliseum. On Sunday, the Eagles returned home for an afternoon tilt against the Vernon Vipers, and lost 3-2 in a shootout after regulation time and overtime solved nothing.

“If you looked beforehand at those three games… (against) those three teams and told me we were going to get three points I would have been very happy with that,” said Eagles head coach Cam Keith. “Actually, I think we could have had five of the six points, and… we were a bit unlucky to get only three – although three is still good. Those are the results we want.”

Surrey now sits tied for fourth place with the Langley Rivermen in the BCHL’s Mainland Division, with a record of 7-13-0-2 (win-loss-overtime loss-shootout loss). The three-point weekend also provided them some breathing room in the league-wide standings, as they’re now ahead of the Victoria Grizzlies, West Kelowna Warriors and Merritt Centennials.

Sunday’s game also kicked off a stretch of six straight games at home. The Birds won’t hit the road again until a Nov. 22, when they’ll travel to Coquitlam. They don’t leave the Lower Mainland until Nov. 29-30, when they’ll play Vernon and the Trail Smoke Eaters, respectively.

“Now is a must (win) time for us,” Keith said, referencing the lengthy string of home games.

“We have to keep getting points and wins so there’s not so much separation between us and the rest of the division.”

The highlight of the weekend was Saturday’s road win against the Chiefs, who sit second in the Mainland Division. The home team jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes – on goals from Brett Willits and Nikita Nesterenko – but Surrey bounced back in the second frame with three consecutive goals of their own. Brandon Santa Juana was the first Bird on the board, scoring a power-play marker 9:08 in the period, while Wyatt Schlaht and new captain Hudson Schandor – who replaced recently traded Cody Schiavon – also had shots find the back of the net before the second intermission.

The Chiefs tied the game in the third, and the game appeared to be set for overtime under Holden Katzalay slipped a puck past Chilliwack goalie Kolby Thornton with just two second left in the game.

Keith chalked up the second-period turnaround to influence from his team’s few veterans – such as Schandor and Katzalay.

“I didn’t say much (in the intermission),” Keith said. “But more listened as some of the veterans stepped up and said the right things.

“Sometimes you’re not going to have a period go your way, but the teams that are good are the ones that respond and figure it out, so you have to give the guys credit. They came out in the second determined, after being pretty much embarrassed in the first period.”

On Sunday, Santa Juana – one of just two players left from last season, along with Katzalay – scored again to give him five for the season. Christophe Tellier scored the team’s second. No Eagle scored in the three-round shootout and Vernon escaped with the win after third shooter Dawson Holt scored on Surrey goalie Thomas Scarfone, who stopped 33 of 35 shots prior to the penalty-shot contest and was named the game’s first star.

On Friday, the Eagles will host the Prince George Spruce Kings and on Sunday will host the Rivermen. Friday’s contest is a 7 p.m. start, while Sunday puck drop is set for 4 p.m.



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