Image courtesy Garrett James
The Surrey Eagles are heading to Prince George with a 3-1 stranglehold on the Mainland Division final after a 4-0 win on home ice on Tuesday night.
The goals came early, fast, and furious – as Johnny Wesley opened the scoring just over five minutes into the game. Chase Danol broke in over the Spruce Kings line and was knocked down, but a great second effort led to him receiving the puck back on his stick. With Wesley streaking toward the net, a pass in front resulted in an easy tap-in to the glove side of goaltender Evan DeBrouwer.
It only took 48 seconds for the Eagles to strike again, as this time it was Matthew Campese who made a brilliant move in tight to drag the puck around a sprawled-out DeBrouwer.
Campese would notch his second point of the period a few minutes later, hooking up with Ryan Brushett and Jeff Stewart on a beautiful three-way passing play – with Stewart finishing off the sequence. All three goal scorers picked up their fourth goals of the post-season, as the Eagles took a 3-0 lead into the dressing room after one period of play.
The game would get considerably chippier in the middle frame, with both teams taking penalties – but especially the Spruce Kings who sat three times. The Eagles were not able to take advantage, and the score remained unchanged heading into the final 20 minutes.
The third period saw two Spruce Kings defencemen ejected for extra-curricular activities either behind the play or after the whistle. Chays Ruddy headed to the dressing room at the 14:50 mark, and he was joined at the 17:22 mark by Tyson Slater – both to choruses of “You can’t win here” from some of the 1,073 fans on hand at South Surrey Arena. Prince George was at risk of falling to 0-6 at the Eagles Nest in 2017-18, including results from the regular season.
The winless record would come to fruition, as Jackson Ross fired home his third goal of the playoffs on a powerplay with under four minutes left in regulation. That padded the lead to 4-0 – and that’s where it would stand at the conclusion of the period.
“We had a good start, we came out flying,” Eagles assistant coach Linden Saip said after the game. “The guys were able to find the back of the net early and that lifted a bit of a weight off our chests at the start of the game.”
Eagles goaltender Mario Cavaliere wasn’t tested often, but came up large when relied on. He was awarded the first star for his 23-save performance – recording his first BCHL playoff shutout in the process. Cavaliere had three in the regular season after coming over at the trade deadline from Georgetown (OJHL).
“It’s a lot easier to play when you know you have a wall [in goal] behind you,” Saip added, about his goaltender Cavaliere. “Mario’s been a huge part of our success. He’s definitely been a difference maker in both series’ so far.”
With a goal and an assist in the game, Jackson Ross now leads all BCHL defencemen in playoff scoring with three goals and 11 points in only 10 games. Johnny Wesley’s goal has him tied for third in playoff scoring with 12 total points, and Desi Burgart remains number one in the goals department with nine, despite being held off the score sheet in the last two games.
The Eagles and Spruce Kings have a travel day on Wednesday and return to action on Thursday night in Prince George for game five. The Eagles have a chance to close out the series on the road. If game six is necessary, it will be played on Saturday night at South Surrey Arena. Stay posted for ticket information if that should occur.