Prince George, BC – Perhaps buoyed by a fresh face between the pipes, or perhaps just wanting to give a hometown player the best welcome back, the Surrey Eagles erased three one-goal deficits to record a crucial 4-3 B.C. Hockey League victory over the Mainland Division rival and defending league champion Prince George Spruce Kings at Rolling Mix Arena on Friday night.
With Eagles number one goalie Tommy Scarfone sidelined with a groin injury, goaltender Reece Klassen, a 20-year-old Surrey native, was acquired on Thursday from the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League. He joined the team directly in Prince George, and while he surrendered his first goal in his new uniform a little over seven minutes into the first period, Klassen kept an energized Eagles squad in the game for the duration.
His new teammates more than returned the favor. They out-shot the hosts 12-5 in the opening period, and then in a frantic back-and-forth second period, the Eagles tied the game three different times and then potted the eventual game-winner off the stick of Brett Bliss late in the frame. The win, a proverbial four-pointer, extended the fourth-place Eagles lead to five points over the Spruce Kings. The only damper on the evening was that the Langley Rivermen, who hold down third place in the Mainland Division, also earned themselves a come-from-behind victory by scoring two third-period goals to defeat the host Chilliwack Chiefs 6-5, which allowed them to maintain their three-point lead over the Eagles.
Rookie Carter King sparked the Surrey attack with a brilliant short-handed effort—in fact when skating with a two-man disadvantage—just 1:15 into the second period. After stealing the puck, he was able to turn the play into a two-on-one when defenseman Owen Nolan alertly joined him up ice. Nolan’s shot attempt was blocked by Prince George goaltender Carter Woodside but King was able to bat the puck out of the air for the 1-1 equalizer.
Three-and-a-half minutes later the Spruce Kings regained the lead. Four minutes after that, King scored his second off a goal-mouth scramble to draw Surrey even again. Once again Prince George took a lead on Nicholas Poisson’s second goal of the game, on the powerplay, only to have Gabe Schovanek convert off a won-draw by Eagles captain Hudson Schandor to make it 3-3 five minutes later. Less than 90 seconds after that, effective work along the boards by Surrey’s JJ Fecteau and Buddy Johnson got the puck to Brendan Kim who slid a perfect pass to Bliss for a one-timer he blasted past Woodside to give Surrey its first and only lead they would need on the night.
The Eagles four-goal outburst in the second period came despite taking all three penalties in the frame, but they managed to limit the damage to only the one goal on the powerplay for Prince George. The final 20 minutes were relatively event free, as the Eagles played a superb road period, holding the Spruce Kings to only nine shots, and next to no second-chances. In addition, Brandon Santa Juana drew a holding penalty with 1:55 to play which allowed the Eagles to play much of the rest of the game in the Prince George end of the ice. Although the Spruce Kings did manage to get the puck into the Surrey zone as time was running out, Klassen had to merely make one routine glove save to preserve the victory.
The two teams go right back at it on Saturday night, in what will be for Surrey the second of five straight games on the road.