Top line leads Eagles to pair of victories
The Zamboni was about the only thing misfiring at South Surrey Arena last weekend, as the Surrey Eagles added two more victories to their early season total, beating the Langley Rivermen 2-1 and Coquitlam Express, 5-1.
“We’re pretty happy with how things went. It’s nice to get four points,” said Surrey Eagles head coach Matt Erhart.
“And one of our goals this season was to be a strong defensive team – especially early in the season – and to only allow two total goals, that’s pretty good.”
Friday night’s contest – Surrey’s third straight against Langley to start the BC Hockey League season – was delayed by about 30 minutes after the Zamboni stalled and had to be pushed off the ice surface. But the delay did little to slow either team’s game, as they combined for 27 first-period shots, although no goals, as both netminders – Surrey’s Andrew Hunt and Langley’s Jim Kruger stood tall.
The Eagles took a 2-0 lead in the middle frame when Brandon Morley – playing on a line with brother Tyler and rookie Sean McGovern – potted a short-handed tally at the 2:56 mark, and McGovern extended the lead 11 minutes later with a goal of his own; both Morleys drew assists.
Surrey’s two-goal cushion held up until the 15:43 mark of the third period, when Rivermen’s Derek Sutcliffe scored a short-handed marker, but it was all the offence the visitors could muster.
“Langley plays a really solid defensive game, and because it was our third straight time playing each other, I think both teams made adjustments, which is why there weren’t a lot of goals,” offered Erhart.
The Morley-McGovern-Morley line struck again in a big way Saturday against the Express, led by Tyler Morley’s two-goal, two-assist performance. Brandon Morley and McGovern each chipped in two two assists each.
“That line was really good for us. We put them together in the last pre-season game and it’s worked well so far. They can really skate, and it’s nice that they’ve found some chemistry early in the season,” Erhart said.
“Tyler had a really great game Saturday, and Friday, Brandon had the Gordie Howe hat-trick – a goal, an assist and a fight.”
Other Eagles to find themselves on the scoresheet Saturday were first-year Bird forwards Charles Orzetti and Brandon Tanev, who scored the team’s first two goals, and defenceman Steve Koshey. Fellow blue-liner Beau Orser had two assists.
Also impressive was the goaltender Hunt, in his first year as the Eagles’ starter after a season spent as a backup.
The 19-year-old Surrey native stopped 38 shots en route to first-star honours Friday, and stopped 33 of 34 the following night.
Though it’s just four games into the season, Hunt sits third among goalies in save-percentage (.952) and has been been between the pipes for all three Surrey wins.
“I’ve always been a real big fan of Andrew, and I knew he’d be able to have success at this level,” said Erhart.
“But so far, and I think he’d be the first to tell you this, a lot of the shots he’s been facing have been from the outside, or they’re one-and-done shots because the rebounds have been getting cleared.
“We’ve done a real good job in front of him so far.”
The Eagles, 3-1 through the BCHL’s first two weekends, get set this weekend for a three-games-in-three-nights road trip to Vancouver Island. They play Cowichan Friday, Victoria Saturday, and wrap things up against the Nanaimo Clippers Sunday afternoon at Frank Crane Arena.
Though the trip is a grind, Erhart said it will be a good eye-opener some of the team’s new players, many of whom haven’t experienced such a schedule before.
“It’ll be a good test for the guys, for sure, but it’s the right time of year to get out on the road,” he said.