Heading into the 2018 BCHL playoffs, there wasn’t a series that was tougher to predict than the Surrey Eagles vs Langley Rivermen. Pundits were split across the province, which wasn’t helped by the incredibly close season series.
The Eagles were slated to have home ice advantage in the first round, until a game-tying goal in the final minute of the final game of the regular season in Victoria ruined that plan. Langley finished with 63 points, 1 more than the Eagles, and started the playoffs at George Preston Rec Centre as a result.
The series kicked off on Friday night, and the Eagles shocked the home team with a 3-2 victory to take the early series lead. Trevor St. Jean started the scoring for Langley, but was answered quickly on the powerplay by Desi Burgart – who scored the first playoff goal for the Eagles since Danton Heinen on March 11, 2014. The Eagles would then go on to score two more times in the period, getting one from Connor Sundquist on a wraparound and a shorthanded goal by Ty Westgard.
With the Rivermen net empty, a late goal by Alec Capstick with 40 seconds left pulled them within one, but that was as close as they would come in game one. The Eagles finished with a 24-23 lead in shots.
Game two of the series took place on Saturday night in Langley. A large following of Eagles fans cheered loudly as their team went up 2-0 in the series on the road with a 5-3 victory.
Westgard opened the scoring for the Eagles in the first period, then added an assist and an empty-net goal en route to yet another first-star performance. Just like game one, it was a tie score heading into the first intermission – but the Eagles would explode for three goals in the middle frame, also mirroring game one.
With the Rivermen net empty once again, Spencer Berry’s seeing-eye wrist shot brought them within one goal at 4-3 – but the aforementioned empty net goal by Westgard sealed it with 1:12 remaining.
Trade deadline acquisition Mario Cavaliere got the start in goal in both games, stopping 50 of the 55 shots that he faced. His .909 save percentage is good for fifth-best in the BCHL amongst playoff goaltenders.
The series now turns to South Surrey on Monday and Tuesday night, as the Eagles are set to host the Rivermen in games three and four – up 2-0 in the series.
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