Get the brooms out, the Surrey Eagles have swept up the Coquitlam Express en route to the second round of B.C. Hockey League playoffs.
The Eagles completed a four-game sweep of their first-round opponents Tuesday night, winning Game 4 of the best-of-seven series 3-1 at the Coquitlam Sports Centre.
“Going into a series, you never predict a sweep, but it’s pretty huge for us,” said Eagles coach Matt Erhart Wednesday.
“This gives us a whole week to rest up, and get some guys healthy – we’ve got some guys a little banged up right now.”
The Eagles are now set to renew their long-standing rivalry with the Langley Chiefs in Round 2; the Chiefs also swept their first-round series against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. The series begins with games Monday and Tuesday in South Surrey.
“The last seven or eight games of the regular season were a little up and down for us, so it’s nice to get on a win streak in the playoffs – now we just have to keep it going and get four more,” said Erhart.
“This was a good start though, and was good for us to put some quality wins together.”
As was the case through the first three games of the series – the first two of which were played at South Surrey Arena – the Eagles were led in Game 4 by their first line of Brad McGowan, Richard Vanderhoek and Scott Holm. Vanderhoek had a pair of goals, giving him six in the the four-game series, and McGowan added an assist to give him a league-high nine playoff points. Holm, meanwhile, finished with four points in four game.
Robert Lindores – who also had four points in the first round, after tallying just 21 in 60 regular-season games – rounded out the scoring Tuesday.
“We got contributions, got scoring, from a lot of different guys,” said Erhart, who singled out his new checking line of Tyler and Brandon Morley and Daniel Gentzler for praise.
The Eagles played Game 4 without the services of top-scoring defenceman Mitch Jones, who was suspended three games after receiving a match penalty in the third game of the series. Surrey fourth-liner Colton Mackie will also sit for two games, after accumulating too many game misconducts and suspensions during the season. He’d been suspended twice during the regular season. Both players are eligible to return for Game 3 against Langley.
The two Lower Mainland clubs have recent playoff history. Last year, the Chiefs eliminated the Eagles in the first round, winning the series 3-1. In 2008/09, it was Surrey emerging victorious, winning a best-of-five first-round series 3-1.
That said, the two clubs met just once in the last few months of the regular season.
“We haven’t played them much lately, so we’ll take a day off here and recharge, and they take a look at some (video), and prepare for them… hopefully we be able to dissect their game and expose some weaknesses,” Erhart said.
If the Eagles are to avenge last year’s post-season defeat, Erhart said they’ll need to continue to win the special teams battle – they were a perfect 26-for-26 killing penalties against the Express – while also staying committed on defence.
Surrey allowed just five goals in four games in Round 1, thanks largely in part to 20-year-old netminder Karel St. Laurent, who was named one of the game’s three stars in each of the last two wins.
“We weren’t real good (on Tuesday), to be honest, and Karel made some big saves and really held us in there until we were able to get the lead,” said Erhart.
“When he was called upon, he was huge for us.”