Nanaimo, BC – The Surrey Eagles (24-24-0) looked to rebound after one of their worst performances of the season on Sunday afternoon against the Nanaimo Clippers (29-16-2). After a tough start, the Eagles rallied back but the comeback fell just short in a 5-3 loss against the Clippers.
Things didn’t go as planned for Surrey to begin the game when Ben Kotylak and Jeremie Payant scored in the first eight minutes to stake the Clippers out to a 2-0 lead. In the 2nd period the Clippers extended their lead on an odd man rushed finished off by Tristian Fraser. The Eagles didn’t let the game slip away, and found a response when Jacob Bonkowski sniped his 9th of the season short side on Cooper Black on the powerplay. Unfortunately, on the Eagles next powerplay the Clippers raced down off the ensuing face-off and Fraser scored his 2nd of the game short-handed to give the Clippers a 4-1 lead.
The Eagles could’ve gave up after 40 minutes, but they responded with their best period of the game. Jacob Slipec and Buddy Johnson scored for Surrey to help the Eagles pull within one with 10 minutes remaining in the third. Despite their best efforts late in the game, the Eagles were unable to find the equalizer and the Clippers iced it with a last second empty net goal. Eli Pulver made a couple of fantastic saves for Surrey in the game to keep it close and made 37 saves on 41 shots against.
When asked about his initial thoughts on the game, Eagles Associate Coach Brad Tobin was pleased with his team’s effort level in the loss and believes the team took a step forward. “I thought our effort level was there for the full sixty minutes. That’s what we were preaching before the game and we’re happy with our effort. We tried to mount the comeback in the 3rd and keep the good feelings going. Ultimately it’s not what we wanted but it was a step in the right direction for us.”
The Eagles could’ve just coasted in the final twenty minutes when things didn’t go their way but they didn’t. In the eyes of their coach, the team and especially the leadership group really made a statement with their effort in the final moments of the game. “This game speaks volume, especially from our leadership group which dictated what was said in the locker room in the 2nd intermission and everyone bought in. That’s a team we might play in the playoffs so for us to mount a comeback and to feel good in the end is a step in the right direction.”
The Eagles finished the road trip with a 1-2 record and fell to .500 on the game. Despite the results not going their way, Brad believes the Eagles will move forward a better team and this trip will help them prepare for the playoffs a month from now. “Looking at the trip we found out more about some individual players and what they’ll bring in the coming weeks into the playoffs. We found out what’s working and what isn’t offensively and defensively, and we’ll go over the video and see where we’re at. We’re looking forward to our Wednesday night matchup versus Coquitlam.”
The Eagles will look to return to the win column on Wednesday, March 9th against the Coquitlam Express in Coquitlam. Puck drop is slated for 7:00pm inside the Poirier Sport & Leisure Complex, and you can catch all the action on BCHL TV (Powered by HockeyTV) and on mixlr.com/eaglesbchl.