It might be a typical coach’s cliché but as Surrey Eagles head coach Cam Keith said as his team concluded its B.C Hockey League pre-season schedule via a 4-3, near last-second OT loss on the road versus the Chilliwack Chiefs: “It was a win for us tonight. We got solid contributions from everybody.”
The Eagles, young and rebuilding under Keith, might have deserved better than the bottom line, but were stoned again and again by the game’s first star, Chilliwack goalie Kolby Thornton. Surrey netminder Thomas Scarfone also stood tall after being victimized by a deflected floater 90 seconds into the first. Surrey outshot Chilliwack 45-39 in an entertaining contest.
“We created a lot of Grade A scoring opportunities tonight, and got contributions from everybody,” said Keith, “Tonight our top end guys shined, they really started to show they’re going to be our go-to guys,” referring to the trio of Holden Katzalay, Cristophe Tellier and Hudson Schandor.
With only three returnees from last season’s team, Keith has had a juggling act on his hands since training camp opened. However, after a 2-2-1 pre-season he likes what he sees. “It was a fun game to witness. It had all the elements you want your kids to go through. We were a little banged up and so we were short numbers but the guys grinded it out. I like our character. I like how we’ve come together so quickly with so many new faces. We all seem to have all jelled very quickly, and everybody seems to be in sync.”
The Eagles were down 1-0 after the first, but it was Thornton that was responsible for that as the visitors enjoyed the run of the play over the second half of the first period in one of the toughest rinks to play in the BCHL. As the second period opened the Eagles continued to apply the pressure, and were rewarded with a pair of goals from the top line. Chilliwack equalized shortly after and the second period ended with both teams deadlocked at 2-2. The Chiefs took a 3-2 lead in the third before Surrey tied it with just 14 seconds remaining and Scarfone on the bench for the sixth attacker, courtesy Tellier’s second goal and third point of the game. Chilliwack’s Joey Larson had the game-winner 9 seconds before time expired in the extra frame by putting his backhand home after waiting out the Eagles goaltender.
Said Keith of the exciting but tough loss, and the Eagles encouraging overall start to of 2019-20: “I’m extremely happy. We wanted to be competitive at the start [of the season] thinking our kids and their intelligence would grow as they adjusted to the league. We’ve gained momentum in our pre-season, which was our goal going into our season-opener in Prince George, and we accomplished it.”