Surry, BC – With the chance to cap off a stellar second half of their season, the Surrey Eagles took one on the chin Friday night at the South Surrey Arena as they were handed a 3-2 overtime defeat by the Langley Rivermen.
Two nights after earning a huge win in Coquitlam against the B.C. Hockey League-leading Express, the Eagles looked little like the team which by going 8-2 in their past 10 games had leapfrogged the Chilliwack Chiefs for second place in the Mainland Division.
The single point earned in their final game of the regular season gives them a one-point advantage over the Chiefs, who complete their season with a home game against the Rivermen on Sunday. Chilliwack and Surrey will meet in the first of the playoffs, and a win Friday night would have given Surrey home-ice advantage.
Surrey looked lethargic early on, and had but a single shot on net in the opening 10 minutes. They finished with five shots on goal in the whole first period, three of them coming on a single shift. The Eagles did outshoot the Rivermen 24-15 over the final 40 minutes but Rivermen goalie Jonathan Mor was solid throughout and his large blueline corps never allowed the Eagles to mount any sustained pressure.
Langley opened the scoring on the powerplay 18 minutes into the second period when Joseph Musa got a wrist shot past a screened Reece Klassen in the Eagles goal. The lead stood up for all of 27 seconds as Hudson Schandor finished off a pretty three-way passing play with linemates Cristophe Tellier and Gabe Schovanek.
Langley regained the lead nine minutes into the final period with their second goal with the man advantage as Tanner Versluis poked the puck through a collapsed scrum in front of Klassen.
When defenseman Cade Alami took an interference penalty after taking exception to a hit on Schandor with 2:03 to play, and then Schandor was assessed a roughing penalty with 20 seconds remaining it looked like it was lights out for the Eagles. But Tellier, who leads the team in scoring and reached the 100-point plateau for his BCHL career with his assist on Schandor’s second-period marker, electrified the crowd with a stunning tying goal with 12.7 seconds to play. Skating three against five, Tellier stole the puck at his blueline and raced untouched into the Langley end before sending a bullet of a slapshot past Mor.
However, Jake Livingstone sent the crowd home disappointed with a one-timer of his own for the Rivermen’s third powerplay goal of the game at 1:27 of the extra frame. Surrey went zero for four with the man advantage.
Eagles head coach Cam Keith was clearly disappointed with his team’s commitment on the night. “We were awful in the first period,” he said bluntly. “We thought it was going to be an easy game. We looked at the standings, we’d just beat Coquitlam, it was our last home game of the season, second place was on the line, it looked like it was all meant to be.
“There were a lot of factors that could have led to their mindset being where it was but the fact of the matter is that Langley came to work and just outplayed us in every single aspect of the game. We got outworked and that’s what it takes to win at this time of the year. This has to be a learning experience for them. There are no easy games time of year.”
Surrey will now be pulling for the Rivermen to give the Chiefs a similar dose of disappointment on Sunday afternoon. Chilliwack has only one win its past 10 games.