A pair of playoff games didn’t go their way, but Surrey Knights head coach Andy Liboiron says the “Survivor Series” loss to Chilliwack Jets will prove valuable next season.
The Game 2 shutout followed a close 4-3 double-overtime loss Thursday (Feb. 16) in North Surrey, in the Knights’ first playoff game in the PJHL since the franchise moved to the city from Langley seven seasons ago.
“For development it’s important to play meaningful games,” Liboiron emphasized, “and these two games were easily the most beneficial for our guys going into next year, because now they know what it’s all about.”
In Game 1 of the best-of-three series, the Knights got goals from Noah Iacutone, Bronson Sales and Noah Melanson. With the score tied after regulation, Surrey killed two minor penalties in the first overtime period, but a tripping call early in the second OT proved costly when the Jets’ Bronson Babyak scored on the powerplay.
“That was a heartbreaker of a game, for sure,” Liboiron said. “The guys were very excited – I haven’t seen our group like that all year, and it was a ton of fun. Just unfortunate how it ended. It was a great game.”
In Chilliwack two nights later, the Knights had a solid first period before the wheels fell off in the second frame.
“We were happy coming out of the first period down one, because we out-chanced them. But then a couple quick goals by the Jets, that hurt us. A penalty put us down for five minutes and it snowballed from there, and we showed our youth a little bit. We let the moment get to us, but we rallied and had a good third period and the puck just found our net that night.”
To start the current PJHL season, Knights’ goals included making the playoffs with a team of mostly rookies and some raw talent. That mission was accomplished, and Liboiron says new goals are now firm for next season.
“We want to finish higher in the standings, top three in our division, so we avoid the Survivor series, the wildcard series,” he said.
“We had high expectations coming into the playoffs, but this season has been a success for us because our goal was to make the playoffs,” he noted. “Our guys should be very proud, because they did what a lot of people thought wasn’t possible, so kudos to the guys for how hard they worked.”
“We’re already into recruiting for next year, and with the spring league we’re looking for a couple of players to fill out the roster. The spring league has been a part of our success this season, developing players and recruiting some.”