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Eagles to battle Kings in conference finals

Surrey Eagles goalie Karel St. Laurent makes a save against the Langley Chiefs during the two teams’ second-round series.

The Surrey Eagles will continue their run through the B.C. Hockey League’s old Mainland Division this weekend, when they face off against the Powell River Kings in Coastal Conference finals.

The Eagles, who eliminated the Burnaby Express and Langley Chiefs in earlier rounds, learned Wednesday night that the first-place Kings – losers of just nine games in regulation during the regular season – would be their next opponent.

Powell River fought back from being down 3-1 in their conference semifinal series against the Victoria Grizzlies, completing the comeback with a 4-1 victory in Game 7 Wednesday.

The series begins Friday in Powell River, with Game 2 also slated for the Sunshine Coast Saturday. The series will return to South Surrey on Monday and Tuesday.

“We’re excited about it. Powell River has been at the top pretty much all season, and we knew if we wanted to win, we’d have to go through them at some points,” said Eagles coach Matt Erhart.

The Kings and Eagles met six times during the regular season; the Eagles went 2-3-1 in those contests.

“In two of the games they won, they beat us pretty good, but four of the six were close, and we proved we could win in their rink,” said Erhart.

Both clubs boast an impressive array of offensive firepower.

Surrey has, among others, Brad McGowan – currently second in league playoff scoring – and Richard Vanderhoek, who has 10 goals in as many playoff games. The Kings, meanwhile have Chad Niddery, 20, who finished fourth in the BCHL scoring race and Andrew Pettitt, who is clicking along at a point-per-game pace this postseason.

But as much as both teams know how to put the puck in the net, they each have goaltenders capable of turning the series into a defensive battle.

Powell River starter Michael Garteig lead the BCHL with 36 wins this season – not to mention seven shutouts.

Karel St. Laurent, meanwhile, will get the nod in the Eagles’ net.

He’s 8-2 this post-season, with a goals-against average of just 2.27 – third-best in the playoffs – and a save percentage of .925.

“The two goalies, both teams’ top-end guys – I think we match up pretty well,” said Erhart. “Sometimes, series like this just come down to injuries and who wants it more.”