Chilliwack, BC – A game and determined but undermanned Surrey Eagles ran into a red-hot goalie in Mathieu Caron who delivered the goose-egg on Saturday night to lead his Chilliwack Chiefs to a 2-0 victory and a 2-0 lead in their B.C. Hockey League first-round playoff matchup.
With Eagles head coach Cam Keith stressing the need for a good start, his team delivered. They controlled the play and the puck and out-shot the home team 14-6 in the opening frame, forcing Caron to make a handful of highlight-reel saves.
Powerplay goals by Arlo Merritt and Ethan Bowan early in the first and second periods respectively were all Caron and his teammates needed. The Eagles outshot the Chiefs 32-24 overall.
“That’s how you win a playoff series, goaltending. We had a lot of chances that just didn’t find a way into the net. It was one of those games where it just seemed like we were a dollar short,” said Eagles head coach Cam Keith. “We had a great first period with lots of offensive zone time, shots, and second-chance opportunities, but the puck would just be bouncing over our sticks around the crease.”
“I have to tip the hat to the boys today. They came out and executed the game plan. We outplayed them in the first period. It was just unfortunate that in the first the hockey gods weren’t on our side today and now we’re in a 2-0 hole.”
Surrey played without a pair of veteran defenseman. Brendan Kim remains sidelined after taking a knee-on-knee hit which resulted in a major penalty and two-game suspension to the Langley Rivermen’s Will Dow-Kenny in the Eagles’ final game of the regular season. Kieran O’Hearn was suspended for three games after taking a minor penalty for a blow to the head in the third period of Friday night’s 6-3 Chiefs’ victory. It’s O’Hearn’s third such penalty of the season.
Keith moved his “Swiss Army Knife”, forward J.J. Fecteau, back to the blueline, and said he was one the best Eagles on the ice on the ice Saturday night.
Rookie Tommy Scarfone got the start in net with the team dressing Affiliated Player Lachlan Griffin as backup after Scarfone’s counterpart in the Eagles’ net, veteran Reece Klassen, suffered a shoulder injury in Friday night’s opener.
“Yes, we are a bit up against it,” admitted Keith, before quickly adding, “We’ve faced adversity before. We’ve kind of been a comeback team, so no better way to do it than this way. It’s not ideal, but if there’s anyone who can do it, this team has the will to not give up, so I’m still confident.”
Games 3 and 4 will be played at the South Surrey Arena on Monday and Tuesday nights.