Trail, BC – After the Surrey Eagles grinded out a win against the Vernon Vipers on Friday night, it wasn’t hard to think the Eagles might relent a little bit against one of the better teams in the BC Hockey League. Instead, the Eagles played an even better game and beat the Trail Smoke Eaters 3-2, on the 70th birthday of the Cominco Arena.
There was no quit in this Eagles team from the opening whistle. They scored all 3 goals at even strength, and received more stellar goaltending from Tommy Scarfone in their victory, which saw the team improve to 11-15-2-3 on the season, and pull even with the Prince George Spruce Kings for 4th in the Mainland division.
Eagles head coach Cam Keith was extremely impressed with his group’s effort throughout the entire game. “Huge character test for our boys here. Playing in one of the toughest rinks in the BCHL, with probably the best offensive group, and we shut them down. We played a hard 60, we made them earn every chance that they had. I mean, to give up 17 shots after 2 periods to give ourselves a chance to win, it’s just an incredible effort from our group.”
As has been the case recently, Scarfone stood on his head early and often and kept the Smoke Eaters off the board. Scarfone made arguably his best save of the season a little under halfway through the first period. Scarfone dove across and robbed Kent Johnson with an incredible stick save. Then in the 3rd period, with the Eagles up by two, Scarfone stood tall again and made a huge stop on Johnson’s linemate Michael Colella to help keep the Eagles up by 2. Scarfone was the game’s first star and finished the game with 28 saves on 30 shots.
Cam noted that the spectacular has seemingly become routine with his starting goaltender. “I mean, he makes things look easy. I think there’s a lot of opportunities that we probably don’t think of as big of a opportunity because he makes the saves look routine at this point. In Tommy in trust is the best way to put it.”
The Eagles didn’t even need their powerplay to help them tonight. Brett Bliss opened the scoring in the first period with a seeing eye wrister from the point. Then, in the third period with the score tied at 1, Cristophe Tellier put home a slick feed from Hudson Schandor, and Brandon Santa Juana batted a puck out of mid air after a shot from Owen Nolan was handled incorrectly by Trail’s starter Logan Terness to give the Eagles a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
The will to battle through adversity was evident tonight. “We know we have to have balanced scoring from all 4 lines now. We can’t rely completely on a top line now that Katzalay isn’t here. We saw it tonight, all 4 lines were creating opportunities, and it was just a matter of time to finally find the back of the net. It was a collective effort tonight for sure.”
On a night where Cam won in his first game as a head coach in a place he holds dear, it was a couple former Smoke Eaters in Jimmy Darby and Kieran O’Hearn. “Honestly, I can’t even put it into words [on winning his first game as a head coach in Trail] on how good it feels. But honestly, I feel better for guys like Jimmy Darby and Kieran O’Hearn who put a lot of time in here. I feel like they had something to prove and they proved it tonight.”
The Eagles will continue their string of games away from ‘The Nest’, and embark on a 3 game Vancouver Island road trip starting next Friday against the Powell River Kings.