Surrey, B.C. – The Surrey Eagles (14-13-0) looked to build off their first win of 2022 in a rematch against the Chilliwack Chiefs (16-8-2) on an ice cold Friday night inside the South Surrey Arena. After one of the best all around games of the season, the Eagles were unable to come away with the 2 points as they dropped a close 3-1 decision against the Chiefs. Surrey’s special teams failed them again, as they gave up two Chilliwack powerplay goals and went 0 for 3 with the man advantage.
Grayden Slipec had the lone goal for Surrey in the 3rd period to bring the score within 1, but the Chiefs scored a late powerplay tally to ice the game with just 2:01 remaining in the game. Max Prazma was strong in net in the loss, as he made 31 saves on 34 shots against. Cameron Johnson, Ethan Bowen, and Frankie Carogioiello scored for the Chiefs while Grant Riley made 30 saves on 31 shots in the win.
However, the game itself was an excellent display of hockey from two of the best teams in the Coastal Conference. Both teams traded a number of high danger chances throughout the evening, and either team could’ve came away with the victory. The game had the intensity of a playoff game, and while the Eagles may not have come away with the result they wanted they should feel well about their overall game.
When asked on his initial thoughts of the game, Eagles Head Coach Cam Keith immediately mentioned the playoff like atmosphere the game had from start to finish. “The process was there. We played a playoff style game where we managed the puck well. Offensively we created a lot below the dots, we just couldn’t find the net tonight.”
The Eagles have kicked off 2022 against one of the best teams in the Coastal Conference, and perhaps the BCHL. The Chiefs and Eagles both have championship aspirations, and Cam knew tonight was going to be a test before the puck even dropped. Despite the loss, Cam thought his team responded well to adversity and believes the team learned a lot about themselves. “It was a character check. They’re built big, heavy, especially on their blueline where they’ve got 4 guys over 6’3 – 6’4 and defend very hard. Our guys battled through; we never gave up, we took a lot of punishment down low and our guys continued to push through those hard shifts. It was a huge test for us to see how we’d respond to a playoff series against a big heavy team, and I thought we passed the test.”
This team still needs to work on some things if they want to become a true contender. When asked about what’s next for his group, Cam mentioned they still need to work on their consistency and continue to hunt for pucks in the dirty areas around the net. “We need to continue to find ways to get to the net to score. The common place to score down the stretch when teams start to tighten up in the defensive zone and games mean more, they’ll have to get to the front of the net. It’s harder to score goals late in the season, and guys will need to get to those dirty areas like Grayden Slipec did tonight. For this team to be successful down the stretch, we need to find more ways to get to the net to get those rebounds.”
The Eagles won’t have a lot of time to dwell on tonight’s loss, as they’ll head to Coquitlam tomorrow night to face off against the Coquitlam Express. Puck drop is slated for 7:00pm inside the Poirier Sport & Leisure Complex. You can catch all the action live on BCHL TV (Powered by HockeyTV), and on mixlr.com/eaglesbchl.