Surrey Eagles defenceman Brendan Winslow stops just before crashing into Chilliwack Chiefs goalie Mathieu Caron during Sunday’s BCHL game at South Surrey Arena. (Garrett James photo)

Surrey Eagles win three after ‘shot in the arm’

BCHL squad sits third in Mainland Division after wins over Coquitlam Express, Chilliwack Chiefs

After a pair of losses seven days earlier put an abrupt stop to a Surrey Eagles’ win streak, the BC Hockey League team got itself back on a winning track last weekend, sweeping all three games on their schedule.

The Eagles’ weekend began with a 4-2 win over the Coquitlam Express Friday night at South Surrey Arena, and 24 hours later, made it two in a row over their division rivals with a 5-3 win, this time at Coquitlam’s Poirer Sports and Leisure Centre.

After sweeping the two-game showdown with the Express, Surrey capped the three-games-in-three-days stretch with a 4-3 victory Sunday afternoon over another divisional foe, the Chilliwack Chiefs.

In an interview posted across the team’s social-media accounts prior to the puck drop Friday, Eagles’ head coach Brandon West suggested that the two losses last week – which put to rest a stretch that had seen the team pile up six wins in seven games – served as something of a wake-up call to his group.

“That was kind of a shot in the arm for us, and I think maybe it’s what we needed to get back to basics,” West said.

The wins boosted the Birds into a third-place tie in the Mainland Division, with 27 points and a record of 12-9-2-1 (win-loss-overtime loss-tie). They remain just four points shy of the division-leading Langley Rivermen, who lost ground on the teams beneath them after winning just once in two games over the weekend.

On Friday, the Eagles were led, as they have been so often this season, by the forward line of John Wesley, Desi Burgart and Ty Westgard, the latter of whom was recently named the BCHL’s player-of-the-month for October. Wesley scored a hat trick – boosting his league-leading goal total to 20 – while each of his linemates had an assist. The other Eagles’ marker, which came just 54 seconds into the first period, was notched by Chase Danol, with Jeff Stewart and Ryan Brushett picking up assists.

Nic Tallarico was between the pipes for the victorious Eagles, stopping 30 of 32 shots fired his way. The win – as well as Sunday’s, for which he was also in net – boosted the 19-year-old’s win-loss record to a perfect 5-0 since joining the Eagles last month, after his release from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

In Saturday’s rematch, the offence was spread throughout the lineup as five different Eagles’ scored goals.

After falling behind 2-0 in the first six minutes of the first period on Coquitlam goals from Haydn Delorme and Joshua Bruce, Surrey bounced back with goals by Domenic Masellis and Owen Norton to make it a tie game by the first intermission.

The teams traded goals in the second period, as well, with Stewart scoring his fifth of the season, and Aaron White and Brushett added third-period tallies to put the visiting squad ahead for good.

Daniel Davidson wasn’t overly busy in net for Surrey, stopping 19 shots to earn the win.

As if Saturday’s offence wasn’t enough of a team-effort, Sunday also featured multiple goal-scorers. Connor Sunquist opened the scoring in the first period, Jesse Nelson scored in the second, and Brushett and captain Jordan Robert added goals in the final frame to round out the scoring.

While the two losses that preceded the weekend may have indeed served as a jolt to the squad, as West suggested, the team also received a welcome boost of offence last week after the acquisitions of forward Michael Campese and defenceman Cory Babichuk, the latter of whom played 47 games for the Eagles last year but this season had been playing with the Central Illinois Flying Aces of the United States Hockey League. Campese was acquired from the West Kelowna Warriors for future considerations.

To make room on the roster, the Eagles released defenceman Derrick Johnson.

“It puts more depth in our group,” West said.

“Cory is going to add skill and that puck-possession game that we’re looking for. Getting home back from the USHL is a big boost to our lineup and is only going to make us better.”

Babichuk had three assists in three weekend games.

The Eagles are in the south Okanagan tonight (Wednesday) for a road tilt with the Penticton Vees, but are back at home this weekend.

They’ll host the Chiefs again at South Surrey Arena Friday, and the Wenatchee Wild Sunday at 4 p.m.

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