The Surrey Eagles – who had recently jumped to fourth in the BC Hockey League’s Mainland Division – were leapfrogged in the standings by the Langley Rivermen after winning just one of three games last week.
On Saturday night at Langley’s George Preston Recreation Centre, the divisional rival Rivermen edged the Birds 7-5, with the final goal coming with the Eagles’ net empty, to move into fourth place in the Mainland Division with 25 points.
The Eagles, meanwhile, sit just one point behind, with a record of 11-16-2-0 (win-loss-overtime loss-tie). The team has already eclipsed its win total from each of the last two seasons.
Most of Saturday’s offence came in the first period, with the two teams combining for seven goals in 20 minutes.
Surrey took a 2-0 lead by the midpoint of the period on goals from forward Desi Burgart and blue-liner Nick Minerva, but Langley’s McKay Flanagan cut the deficit to 2-1 minutes later.
The two squads traded goals quickly before the buzzer – scoring four times in less than five minutes – with Mike Sauer and Darius Davidson scoring for the visiting Eagles.
In the second period, Logan Mostat scored 11:44 in the period to extend Surrey’s lead to 5-3, but Langley scored two unanswered markers before the second intermission, and added two more in the third, to secure the win and grab two points in the standings.
On Thursday, Surrey dropped a game on home ice, 6-3 to the visiting West Kelowna Warriors – just the third loss of the year at South Surrey Arena for the Eagles. A day earlier, Surrey got their lone victory of the week, beating the Coquitlam Express 4-3 on the road.
In Thursday’s loss, the Eagles scored first – Jordan Robert got the home team on the board just 56 seconds into the game – but the Warriors scored three goals in the latter half of the period and took a two-goal cushion into the intermission.
Neither team scored in the second, and in the third, Surrey got two goals – from Davidson and Dario Piva – but West Kelowna added three themselves.
Uncharacteristically, the Eagles – who own the league’s second-best power play – struggled with the man-advantage Thursday, and were unable to score on five power-play opportunities.
Conversely, they were three-for-10 with the man-advantage in Saturday’s loss, and one-for-3 in Wednesday’s win in Coquitlam.
Surrey’s power-play is clicking at a 29.1 per cent success rate, which has led the league for weeks, though now sits slightly behind the Merritt Centennials’ mark of 30.6 per cent.
Against the Express, the Eagles jumped out to a big first-period lead, scoring three goals – from Jackson Ross, Cole Williams and Davidson – in the final six minutes of the period.
The home side made it close in the second, scoring twice in a row to make it 3-2, but Sauer restored the Eagles’ two-goal lead just two minutes later.
Daniel Davidson gwot the start in net for the Eagles, but lasted just one period before having to leave the game due to injury. Michael Botiz played the final two periods and was credited with the win.
With the young goaltender on the shelf, Botiz played Thursday and Saturday, and was backed up by affiliate player Lukas Shaw.
After a flurry of roster moves in the last 10 days opened up a roster spot on the Surrey Eagles’ blue line, former Valley West Hawk Colten Gerlib has been brought into the fold.
The 17-year-old Kamloops native had been with the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League, playing five games.
With Valley West in the 2015/16 season – where he was a teammate of another newly acquired Eagle, Josh Burce – Gerlib had seven goals and 18 assists in 40 games.
“We’re excited to bring Colten in,” said Eagles head coach Blaine Neufeld. “He’s exactly the type of player that we’ve targeted for awhile. With some more junior experience under his belt, we think he can develop into a consistent shutdown defenceman in this league.”