A weekend road swing through the Coastal Conference didn’t start well for the Surrey Eagles, but it finished on a high note, with a fight-filled 5-0 win over the Cowichan Valley Capitals Sunday.
Surrey’s sniper Brad McGowan led the way Sunday with a four-point effort – which vaulted him back into the lead of the B.C. Hockey League scoring race – and Dale Hunt had a hat trick, with one goal coming at even-strength, one on the power play and one shorthanded.
Michael Stenerson rounded out the scoring for Surrey.
Surrey’s backup netminder Andrew Hunt, a Delta native, stopped all 39 shots he faced to earn his first career shutout.
But the offensive exploits and the rookie netminder’s performance were overshadowed by fisticuffs, which started with a scrum behind the Eagles’ net late in the second period – just a minute after Hunt’s third goal of the night – and spilled over into the third.
With less than three minutes to go in the second frame, Eagles’ Beau Orser was tagged with a five-minute boarding major, fighting major and a game misconduct, while teammate Daniel Gentzler also received a 10-minute misconduct.
Cowichan, meanwhile, saw Devin Dambrauskas ejected and also given a five-minute slashing penalty, while Clayton Chessa – a former Eagle – and Alex Marchinew also received 10-minute misconducts.
The whole situation took the on-ice officials more than 10 minutes to sort out, and things didn’t calm down much after the second intermission, either.
Eagles blue-liner Linden Saip and Capitals’ Jordan Grant – who was ejected – dropped the gloves just 39 seconds into the third, and Surrey’s Robert Lindores and Cowichan’s Alex Halloran fought at the 1:28 mark, with Lindores receiving additional penalties for a blow to the head.
Rounding out the rough stuff, Surrey forward Jeff Vanderlugt fought Matt Cassidy at the six-minute mark, before things settled down for good.
Saturday’s contest, a 2-1 overtime victory over the Nanaimo Clippers, was far less complicated. McGowan again led the team with two goals, including the overtime winner just 42 seconds into the extra frame.
McGowan’s goal came after Nanaimo coughed up the puck at the Eagles’ blue-line, which led to a Surrey offensive rush. Nanaimo netminder Charles Alexy-Premont stopped the initial shot, but McGowan deposited the rebound.
“He couldn’t find (the rebound), they did and it ended up in the back of our net,” said Clippers coach Bill Bestwick. “If you’re going to get beat, you’d like to get beat on a real nice goal.”
Bestwick thought he team was the better one on the night, but simply ran into a hot goaltender - Karel St. Larent stopped 36 of 37 shots on net for the visiting Eagles.
“I thought we were territorially a better team,” Bestwick said. “I thought we possessed the puck in better places than our opponent did, and we were real good in the corners and the boards.
“When we play like that we give ourself a chance to win every game.”
While the Eagles snuck out of Nanaimo with a much-needed two points, they had no such luck Friday against the league-leading Powell River Kings, who clobbered the visiting Birds 5-1.
Powell River potted four goals in the first period and led 5-0 after 40 minutes. Vanderlugt finally got the Eagles on the board 15:01 into the third period, but the game was already out of reach by then.
St. Laurent started the game, but lasted just 8:30 – stopping just four of seven shots – before being yanked in favour of Hunt, who stopped 38 of 40 the rest of the way.
The Eagles, who are back on the road this Friday and Saturday – they play Victoria and Alberni Valley – are third in the Coastal Conference with a record of 27-15-1-2. They’re just one point back of the Chiefs, whom they host at South Surrey Arena this Sunday at 4 p.m.
After Sunday’s game, the Eagles will also host another Scotiabank Skate with the Eagles event – a public skate that will give youngsters a chance to hit the ice with members of the team.
Admission is free, but those wanting to skate must pick up a voucher from any South Surrey Scotiabank location.
Sunday’s game is also “Back the Bus” night in support of the Alexa’s Bus campaign. Fans are encouraged to buy purple bracelet’s at the game, in support of the program’s campaign to get drunk drivers off the road.
- with files from Greg Sakaki