A pair of goals during an extended power play at the beginning of second period proved to be the difference for the Surrey Eagles Friday night at South Surrey Arena, as the BCHL Coastal Conference champions cruised to a 5-2 win over the Penticton Vees.
With the game tied 1-1 after the opening 20 minutes, the Eagles broke the deadlock in the second frame, when Michael Stenerson and Craig Wyszomirski scored 31 seconds apart to give the home team a two-goal lead.
Both goals came on a long 5-on-3, as Penticton was forced to serve three penalties in the early-going of the period. First, Vees’ Thomas Nitsche took an interference penalty, and while on the way to the penalty box, took a swing at a nearby Eagle, and was whistled for roughing, as well. Then, 1:31 later, Robert Mann was called for slashing.
With three penalties at once, the Vees stayed down two men even after Stenerson’s first goal. It was only after Wyszomirski’s marker – which came on a shot from the point – that the Penticton got one man out of the box.
“I didn’t know quite how that was going to work, with the three penalties and the 5-on-3, but I’m not complaining,” said Surrey Eagles coach Matt Erhart after the game.
Stenerson also scored the Eagles’ first goal, which came with his team shorthanded. Stenerson, rushing into the Vees’ zone one-on-two, cut to the middle of the ice and shot. His wrist shot was stopped by Penticton keeper Chad Katunar, but the rebound bounced off a defenceman standing in front and back into the net.
Prior to Stenerson’s goal, both teams seemed tentative, with neither mounting much in the way of an offensive attack.
“That shorthanded goal was huge for us,” Erhart said.
Brook Balson had given the visiting Vees the lead 9:13 into the first when he tipped a shot over the shoulder of Surrey goalie Michael Santaguida.
With the Eagles up 3-1 in front of a standing-room-only crowd at South Surrey Arena (and even those standing were three-deep in places), Penticton’s Wade Murphy cut the lead to 3-2 midway through the second period.
The third period was scoreless until Demico Hannoun restored Surrey’s two-goal lead. Nic Pierog, who has six goals in the playoffs after scoring just nine in the regular season, made it 5-2 with an empty-net goal with 15 seconds remaining.
Game 2 goes Saturday, 7:15 p.m. at South Surrey Arena. Game 3 and 4, slated for Monday and Tuesday, will be played in Penticton.