By Nick Greenizan
After a pair of losses to start the weekend, the Surrey Eagles ended a difficult BC Hockey League season Sunday on a positive note – with a 3-2 win over the Langley Rivermen at South Surrey Arena.
The win came after a 7-2 loss Saturday to the Rivermen in Langley, and a 7-0 shutout defeat against the Coquitlam Express – and former captain Ty Westgard – Friday night on home ice.
For the South Surrey junior squad, Sunday’s win brought an end to a tumultuous season that saw them finish with a record of 13-41-2-2 (win-loss-overtime loss-shootout loss), which left them in the basement of the BCHL as the only non-playoff team in the 17-team league.
The team also rolled through three different head coaches – Brandon West quit just prior to training camp, and his replacement, Peter Schaefer, was fired midseason and replaced by Linden Saip – and more players than nearly any other team, as injuries left the team to rely heavily on affiliate players.
However, Sunday’s victory was a chance to go out on a high note, which they did in front of an announced crowd of nearly 800 fans. Forward Caige Sterzer opened the scoring for the home team just 30 seconds into the game, and though the visiting Rivermen tied the score before the end of the first period, Surrey’s Max Mohagen – one of the team’s key players moving forward next season – restored the team’s lead in the second.
In the third period, the Eagles extended their lead to 3-1 on a goal from Holden Katzalay, and though Langley’s Jake Livingstone bridged the game with less than six minutes to go, they couldn’t beat Surrey goalie Cayden Bailey the rest of the way.
Bailey made 39 saves to earn the victory.
Sunday’s win also gave the team the chance to send off graduating 20-year-olds Jeremy Smith and Riley Hayles in style. Hayles, a defenceman from Delta, scored four goals and added 17 assists in 52 games with Surrey this season, while fellow blue-liner Smith – who was named captain in January after Westgard was traded – had 19 points in 27 games with the Eagles after being acquired from the Trail Smoke Eaters during the season.