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Surrey Eagles edge Wenatchee in BCHL season-opener

Home team wins 5-4 in shootout Friday night at South Surrey Arena
Surrey Eagles goalie Eli Pulver made 27 saves, and stopped two shootout attempts, in a 5-4 win over the Wenatchee Wild Friday in South Surrey. (Garrett James photo)

The Surrey Eagles got the new BC Hockey League off to a strong start Friday, picking up two points at home against the visiting Wenatchee Wild in a game that took a shootout to decide.

The Eagles – who are entering their first season with Ron and T.J. Brar as owners – edged the visiting Wild 5-4 in extra time, thanks to shootout goals from last year’s leading scorer Jake Bongo and newcomer Alex Sandhu.

In front of an announced crowd of 950 – a group that included a handful of dignitaries, local politicians and former owner Chuck Westgard – Jacob Bonkowski staked the Eagles to an early lead, scoring his first of the season just 1:12 into the game.

Bonkowski, a Richmond native who has committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha for next season, doubled the lead 12 minutes later with his second goal, to give the home squad a 2-0 lead by the first intermission.

The momentum turned in the second period, however, as Wenatchee stormed out of the break, scoring just 50 seconds into the period, then tying the game five minutes later. And then, just six seconds after the tying goal, they scored again to take their first lead of the game.

The lead didn’t last long, however, as Bongo knotted the game at 3-3 with a goal a few minutes later, and Sandhu restored Surrey’s lead when he scored with just 31 seconds left on clock.

Throughout much of the third period, it seemed as though the Eagles might escape with the 4-3 win, but Wild forward Michael Valdez managed to tie the game with less than five minutes to go, sending it to overtime.

Two overtime frames solved nothing, which sent things to the shootout. Eagles’ goalie Eli Pulver – who stopped 27 of 31 shots in the game – stopped both shootout attempts en route to the win.

In addition to Bonkowski’s two goals, he also added an assist, while defenceman Tate Taylor and winger Aaron Schwartz each had two assists.

The game was the Birds’ only one of the weekend, and they’ll next hit the ice Sept. 20 for a home game against the Chilliwack Chiefs. That game – which will be played on National Truth and Reconciliation Day – will be jointly presented by the two BCHL teams, the Semiahmoo Ravens’ minor-hockey association and Semiahmoo First Nation. Proceeds from the game will go towards the Indian Residential School Survivor Society.

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