On the last Friday night before Christmas, the Surrey Eagles scored enough goals to allow fans at South Surrey Arena to rain stuffed toys down on the ice for charity, but not enough to nab two points in the standings.
Playing their penultimate BC Hockey League game before the holiday break, the Eagles dropped a 3-2 decision to the visiting Prince George Spruce Kings, and followed up on Sunday with another 3-2 loss – this time in a shoout – to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
Friday’s loss snapped a three-game win streak for Surrey.
By picking up a single point for the shootout loss, the Birds stay three points up on the Spruce Kings for fourth place in the Mainland Division, with 34 points and a record of 14-17-2-4 (win-loss-overtime loss-shootout loss).
They’re just three points shy of the Langley Rivermen for third place, as teams jockey for position in a divisional race in which teams are separated by only a few points, save for the first-place Coquitlam Express, who have lost just five games all season and have a 19-point gap between themselves and second-place Chilliwack.
While the Teddy Bear Toss game is, annually, one of the most popular and well-attended on the Eagles’ schedule, the game also doubled as a fundraiser for Prostate Cancer BC, with five dollars from every adult ticket sold going to the cause.
“Two great causes, one great game,” an Eagles’ news release noted.
The team also wore special-edition holiday-themed jerseys against Prince George, which were auctioned off post-game, with the proceeds going to the cause.
The Teddy Toss itself – in which fans throw stuffed toys on the ice after the Eagles’ first goal of the game – saw hundreds of stuffies thrown from the bleachers. They were collected and donated to the Peace Arch Hospital Auxiliary Foundation, which then distributed them to hospitalized children at Christmastime.
Fans had to wait until the third period Friday before tossing the bears onto the ice, but finally got the opportunity when, with the Spruce Kings up 2-0 – on goals from Corey Cunningham and Preston Brodziak – Surrey’s Christophe Tellier scored his 17th goal of the season 7:12 into the frame.
Brodziak scored his second of the game six minutes later to restore Prince George’s two-goal lead, and Eagles’ captain Hudson Schandor bridged the gap to 3-2 in the game’s final minute, but it was as close as the team would get before the final buzzer.
Despite being on the losing end of the score, the Eagles played well enough to win, said head coach Cam Keith, who noted that they ran into a hot goaltender in Prince George’s Jett Alexander, who made 28 saves.
“We did everything we needed to do tonight, except score enough goals,” Keith said.
“I thought we controlled the play for the most part. We created a lot of good scoring opportunities… We were physical and we competed.
“You have to give Prince George credit. They were disciplined in the way they did things and didn’t collapse when we applied pressure. It was a good hockey game.”
Eagles’ netminder Thomas Scarfone – who has been a key figure in the team’s run of recent success – stopped 26 shots in the game.
Against the Bulldogs on Sunday, neither team scored in the first period, but the visitors took a 1-0 lead midway through the second period, but the Eagles knotted it up at 1-1 early in the third on a goal from Buddy Johnson – his fifth of the season – and Tellier gave the team a 2-1 lead 10 minutes later.
Less than 30 seconds later, Alberni Valley tied the game on a goal from Jackson Doucet. Neither team scored over the final seven minutes of the game, and overtime also solved nothing, which sent the game to a shootout.
Gabe Schovanek and Brandon Santa Juana scored goals for the Eagles in the shootout, but Alberni Valley won after a three-goal performance – on goals from Jacob Bosse, Mitch Deelstra and Ryan Doolin.
The Eagles return to the ice on Jan. 3, when they host Chilliwack at South Surrey Arena. A day later, they head to Langley to face the Rivermen and on Jan. 5 they play the Victoria Grizzlies at home.