The Surrey Eagles’ offence ran hot and cold over the Family Day long weekend.
Or, more accurately, it ran cold, then hot.
The Birds – who clinched a BC Hockey League playoff spot earlier this month – began the weekend slowly, dropping a 3-0 shutout to the Penticton Vees Saturday at South Surrey Arena.
But they rebounded nicely from the goal-less outing by posting seven goals in a wild 7-6 win over the visiting Chilliwack Chiefs Monday afternoon.
In the latter game, both teams traded goals back and forth until Surrey forward Braeden Russell – who had scored in the second period already – potted the go-ahead marker with just 40 seconds left on the clock.
“It was one of those games that’s exciting for the fans, but not so much coaches,” said Eagles head coach Peter Schaefer.
“It was basically last shot wins.”
Russell’s two-goal effort was dwarfed only teammate Danton Heinen, who had a hat-trick, and the Renouf brothers, who combined for six points. Jonah Renouf had two goals and an assist and Nathan had three helpers.
Chilliwack’s offence was led by Carter Cochrane, who had a goal and two assists, while a handful of players had two-point nights, including Mitchell Plevy and Jaret Babych.
Bo Didur got the start in net, earning the win despite giving up six goals. Monday’s contest was the rookie netminders first game since Jan. 15; he’d been sidelined with an injury for much of the last few weeks.
“I thought he was a little shaky at times, but it was his first game back,” said Schaefer.
On Saturday, Schaefer said the game could have easily swung in favour of his squad, but special-teams play made the difference.
“We had some chances to score early in the game, but couldn’t do it,” he said.
“Then they came back at the end of the first (period) and got a couple power-play goals and that was it.”
All three Vees’ goals came with the man-advantage, including one from Nic Pierog, the former Eagle who was dealt to Penticton in January.
The Vees went 3-for-4 on the power play, compared to 0-5 for the Eagles.
Schaefer has said numerous times throughout the season that his team’s commitment to defence needed improvement, and though nine goals-against in two games isn’t going to make many coaches happy, he did admit his club has shown improvement as they head towards the post season.
“I think you can kind of throw out the six-goal (game). I think we’re playing more aggressively, and the gaps (between the opposing puck-carrier and the defenceman) are smaller, so anytime you can close those gaps, you’re going to be better,” he said.
Surrey sits in fourth in the Mainland Division with a 23-27-1-1 record, seven points back of the third-place Coquitlam Express. The Langley Rivermen lead the division with a 32-12-2-5 mark, which puts them seven points up on second-place Prince George and 23 higher than Surrey.
But despite the point differential, Schaefer did not sound too concerned if Langley ends up being Surrey’s first-round playoff opponent, which seems likely.
“There’s nobody who is really running away with it, in any (conference),” he said. “So it’s going to be a real battle for everybody once playoffs start.
“You just kind of thrown out the seedings and everybody’s equal. It might just come down to who can get on a run, or who has the hot goalie.”
Surrey is back on home ice this weekend, hosting Salmon Arm Friday night, before heading down to the road to Chilliwack for a game Saturday against the Chiefs.