Each new season, brings changes for any team and/or club that is looking at making more of a positive impact on the year than the previous one.
Such is the case with the Surrey Eagles in the BCHL who are coming off a season of sheer disappointment posting a record of 18 wins, 36 losses, 0 ties and 4 overtime losses, scoring only 187 goals, while allowing 269 goals against.
Playing in the Mainland Division and being located in the Lower Mainland means putting a successful product on the ice so as to attract a strong fan base and that was clearly missing from last season.
Changes in the off-season means changes on the bench as Blaine Neufeld now assumes the role of GM, while bring in Brandon West from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks to be the bench boss.
Blaine mentions that it’s a breath of fresh air, so enter the training camp, with numerous talented players all vying for a spot on the club.
Brandon is a more of a “hands-on” type of guy, quite at time, but vocal when needed – mostly to his players and he isn’t short of telling them.
Fast forward to the first home game of the season had everyone on edge making sure everything they had worked for in the off-season would come together and impress what turned out to be over 1,200 fans attending the game.
The Eagles would face rival Langley Rivermen in the first game of the season that saw the Rivermen dominate the first outshooting the Eagles by a 13-6 tally and taking a 2-0 lead to the room.
Langley jumped out to a 3-0 lead at 4:04 of the period that lit a spark under the Eagles and saw them get chance after chance to get themselves back in the game.
Returning D-man Domenic Masellis got the Eagles on the board at 13:28 of the period while on the PP all due to the hard work of Jackson Ross and newcomer Ryan Brushett.
This was followed by a second marker 3:06 later as Desi Burgart was sent in from Ty Westgard to pull the Eagles within one.
The spark was lit and a short 1:16 later Eagles sniper Johnny Wesley got his first of what everyone hopes will be many this season after getting set up from Norton and Stewart.
The second ended with the game tied at three and while the Eagles outshot the Rivermen in the second by a narrow 12-11 margin, the Rivermen were controlling the game outshooting the Eagles by 24-18.
It’s obvious shots and control were the topic of discussion between periods, but starting the third it was the Rivermen that got on the board first at 5:54, while the Eagles fought hard getting shots at the net, just not on them.
The Eagles did manage to tie the game at 11:08 with Burgart getting his second of the game, again on the PP set up from Wesley.
The remainder of the third saw both clubs get chance after chance, but Eagles ‘tender Daniel Davidson and Rivermen’s Brandon Fleming played exceptionally, forcing the game to OT.
For those unfamiliar with OT in the BCHL, it’s four on four which makes exciting hockey for the fans and playing on Olympic ice, means more chances for everyone.
Discipline plays a huge role and in the later part of the third, Langley’s Carter Stephenson was assessed a minor for Roughing at 19:33 putting the Eagles on the PP entering OT.
Four on three meant open ice, but the Eagles were unable to capitalize, but with sustained pressure working in their favour it wasn’t long until “newbie” Ryan Brushett gave the Eagles a 5-4 win.
Clearly – if talent, desire and dedication mean anything; it’s going to be an interesting season for the Eagles and their fans.
The Rivermen outshot the Eagles by a 35-28 margin while managing to go a narrow 2-9 on the PP, allowing the Eagles to get a slim 3-11, heading back to the drawing board.
FortisBC Energy Player of the Game was Domenic Masellis who went coast to coast in both ends managing to get the Eagles “kick-started” with the game’s first goal.
1st Desi Burgart (2 Goals)
2nd Ryan Brushett (1 Goal, 1 Assist)
3rd Brendan Budy (2 Goals, 1 Assist)
RECAP: What a comeback. What a game. What a WIN! The Eagles battle back from a 3-0 deficit, tie it again in the 3rd, Brushett wins it in OT! pic.twitter.com/xtCrnKv06T
— Surrey Eagles (@SurreyEagles) September 9, 2017