The Surrey Eagles’ first road trip of the new BC Hockey League season wasn’t a successful one, as the squad had its wings clipped twice by the Prince George Spruce Kings.
The Eagles – coming off an impressive season-opening weekend in which they captured three of a possible four points on home ice – fell to the Spruce Kings 5-0 Friday, before losing a Saturday night rematch, 4-1.
“It was a disappointing weekend,” Eagles head coach Brandon West told Peace Arch News Monday.
“Some areas of our game, we just didn’t get the job done. Defensively, we can’t be giving up goals like the ones we gave up – and that’s on everybody. We didn’t play well enough defensively… and we need to score more than one goal against a good team like Prince George.”
Through the first two weekends of the BCHL season, still-undefeated Prince George has proved to be the class of the Mainland Division, with three wins and a tie, while the Eagles are just four points back, in a tie with the Chilliwack Chiefs for third-place, with a 1-2-0-1 record (win-loss-overtime loss-tie).
In Friday’s shutout loss, the Kings opened the scoring 2:48 into the first period, and after a three-goal effort in the middle frame, had a commanding 4-0 lead by the second intermission.
Though the team had a travel day Thursday to Prince George, West insisted the long trip wasn’t the reason for Friday’s lacklustre effort.
“No, travel had nothing to do with it,” he said. “But we were a bit stunned by the pace of the game, and by the time we got accustomed to it, it was near the end of the third period.”
Though Saturday’s performance also resulted in a loss, West said the team did play better than the previous night – “we responded well” – but again, the visitors’ offence was stymied by the Spruce Kings, despite Surrey firing 37 shots on home team netminder Bradley Cooper.
The teams were tied 1-1 after 20 minutes of play – veteran forward John Wesley scored his fourth of the young season to get the Eagles on the board – but Prince George took the lead with one goal in the second period before adding two more in the third.
Prior to embarking on the trip, West told PAN he hoped the weekend journey would serve as something of a team-building exercise early in the year. However, the lack of success hampered such efforts, he said.
“At the end of the day, winning is the best team-builder,” he said.
“Our guys are disappointed… but I think that’s a good sign, because that means they’ll be hungry for the next opportunity.”
The next chance for the Birds to get into the win column comes Thursday morning, when the team plays its first game of the BCHL Showcase – an all-teams event at Chilliwack’s Prospera Centre.
Surrey plays the Salmon Arm Silverbacks – West’s old team – at 10 a.m. Thursday, and wraps up the event with a game against the Trail Smoke Eaters Sunday at 4 p.m.
Though the annual event was created as a showcase for the league’s talent – where university and pro scouts alike can watch multiple teams in one place – West said team success is ultimately the most important.
“We have a job to do, and that’s to go out and win a hockey game. If the team has success, that makes everybody look good (individually),” he said.