Third periods continue to play a large role in the outcome of the Surrey Eagles’ season.
A week after losing twice due to third-period collapses – giving away points to BC Hockey League rivals West Kelowna Warriors and the Chilliwack Chiefs – the Eagles split a pair of home games at South Surrey Arena, losing 3-2 to the Prince George Spruce Kings Friday before bouncing back to defeat the Alberni Valley Bulldogs Saturday night, 4-2.
Both games came down to the final 20 minutes.
On Friday, the Eagles and Spruce Kings were tied 1-1 after 40 minutes of play, but the visitors took the lead in the third, when Chad Staley scored and unassisted marker midway through the period to break the tie, and though Eagles’ forward Nathan Renouf retied the game just 41 seconds later, the Kings escaped with the win when Jeremiah Luedtke scored with 2:36 left in the game.
It was the third game in the row that the Eagles had lost a game in which they led, or were tied, heading into the third period.
The Eagles’ other goal came off the stick of Nic Pierog, whose shorthanded marker at 9:28 of the first period opened the scoring. Luedtke scored on the power-play for Prince George in the second to tie the game at 1-1.
Devon Fordyce was tagged with the loss for the Eagles, stopping 31 of 34 shots he faced.
A day later, however, the Eagles appeared to shake their recent third-period struggles by exploding for three goals in the final frame, en route to a comeback victory over Alberni Valley.
Surrey did not get off to the best of starts in front of the home fans, as the Bulldogs jumped on the home team early to take a 2-0 led by the 11:33 mark of the first, on goals from Zak Bowles and Zach Funke, but the Eagles cut the deficit to 2-1 early in the second period when Danton Heinen scored two minutes into the frame.
And in the third period, the Eagles took over. Heinen scored his second goal of the game – and his sixth of the season – on the power play, to make it 2-2, and the two squads stayed deadlocked until the final six minutes, when Brett Mulcahy gave the Eagles a 3-2 lead – with Heinen garnering an assist. Michael Roberts added the insurance marker in the final minute.
Fordyce was again in net for Surrey, stopping 25 shots to earn his third win since joining the Eagles late last month.
As has been the case for much of the last month, the Eagles sit fourth in the BCHL’s Mainland Division, but the gap between them and the first-place Langley Rivermen continues to grow.
The Rivermen, winners of four consecutive games, are now 11 points up on the Eagles, who sport an 8-11-1-0 record.
The Eagles play a rare midweek tilt against the Coquitlam Express Wednesday at the Poirier Sports and Leisure Centre, before hitting the ice for a two-game home-and-home series against Chilliwack.
On Friday, the two squads will play at South Surrey Arena, and Saturday will square off at Chilliwack’s Prospera Centre.