Orser, Cronin lead Surrey Eagles to pair of wins over Cowichan
Prior to the start of the BC Hockey League post-season, Surrey Eagles head coach Matt Erhart predicted that at least one unheralded player would step up into the playoff scoring spotlight.
Happens every year, he said.
Turns out he was right, as Eagles' defenceman Beau Orser – who failed to score in 55 regular-season games and had just 10 assists – had two assists in Surrey's 4-3 win over the Cowichan Valley Capitals Friday, and a day later, earned first-star honours after scoring twice in a 4-1 win, leading his squad to a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven first-round series. After two games, the 19-year-old Ontario native sits tied with two others – including teammate Robert Lindores – first first in the playoff scoring race.
The series shifted to Cowichan for Game 3 Monday, but results were not available by Peace Arch News' deadline. Game 4 takes place tonight (Tuesday) in Cowichan. If necessary, the series shifts back to South Surrey Arena Thursday for Game 5.
In Friday's opening tilt, Orser wasn't the only defensive-minded blue-liner to get his name on the scoresheet, as veteran Matt Cronin – he of the one-goa, eight-assist regular season – scored the winning goal with just 2:11 left in the third period.
“Both those guys were maybe a little snake-bit during the season, and could’ve scored more, but maybe that’s a good thing, because they’re getting the bounces now,” Erhart said.
“They both work extremely hard, so it’s a nice bonus for us to get (offence) from them. You root hard for guys like that.”
The opening 20 minutes was scoreless, as the two teams – which finished just one point apart in the regular season – played each other as close as one might expect.
In the second period, Eagles' captain Tyler Morley, who was named the game's first star, and Brayden Jaw scored for the home team, and former Eagle Richard Vanderhoek scored for the Caps, temporarily giving the visitors a lead 1:24 into the second frame.
In the third, Cowichan's Matt Brown tied the game at 2-2, but Surrey defenceman Devon Toews restored the Eagles' lead less than a minute later.
Cowichan's 20-year-old sniper Brett Knowles potted a power-play goal to knot the game at 3-3 with just over three minutes left, before Cronin, with assists to Orser and Lindores, notched the winner.
Andrew Hunt, who last week was named to the BCHL Coastal Conference first all-star team, stopped 27 shots to seal the win.
On Saturday, Orser's two goals, plus one from Morley, gave the Eagles a 3-0 lead with just 16 minutes left in the game, and after Cowichan's Troy Paterson – son of former Surrey Eagles' owner Ronnie Paterson – cut the lead to 3-1, Brandon Morley scored an empty-net goal with 45 seconds left to ice the game.
Hunt was solid again between the pipes, stopping 34 of 35 Capitals' shots on net.