Coming off what can only be charitably described as a lacklustre effort in their previous game, the Surrey Eagles rebounded nicely on Friday night at the South Surrey Arena with a 3-2 victory over the Wenatchee Wild.
Defenceman Cade Alami scored the game-winner early in the third by jumping up into the play and finishing off a nice three-way passing play with a backhander along the ice that slid past the Wild’s second goalie of the night, Noah Altman.
“The guys had settled in tonight, you could tell they looked more comfortable,” said Eagles head coach Cam Keith, who will be icing one of, if not the youngest team in the league this season. “It’s experience,” said Keith, even though the team is now only four games (2-2) into the pre-season schedule. “The younger guys are starting to understand the pace and adjust to it. We recruited a smart team, but they’ve still got to adjust.
“As soon as they adjust and make plays, they are going to be good hockey players. It’s just going to take time and be patient.”
The Wild, who fell to 1-3 in the pre-season, controlled the play for the most part in the first period, but against the run of the play the Eagles scored twice in the final six minutes. Gabe Schovanek scored his third of the pre-season after good work along the boards by linemate Adamo Santia sent Schovanek in alone on Wild starting goalie Daniel Chenard, and he showed a deft touch with the puck to slide it between his pads. Santia then popped home a rebound on the powerplay to increase the lead to two.
Midway through the second period, the Wild got on the scoreboard courtesy a bullet of a shot by Tyler Young as he skated through the slot and sniped it over the glove of Eagles starting goaltender Cal Schell. The Wild pulled within one with just under two minutes to play but were unable to generate any dangerous chances after pulling Altman with 90 seconds to play.
Schell was solid throughout, after being pulled in the third period of Surrey’s 10-4 loss to the Coquitlam Express. “That was a great response game from Cal and that’s what we were hoping get out of him,” noted Keith. Wenatchee outshot Surrey 27-16.
“We needed a positive response from this young group. That’s the biggest challenge, to make sure their confidence is where it needs to be at,” said Keith. “With this group there’s going to be some highs and some lows but it’s really good that we can set the bar, in that we’re all playing the right way, and tonight we showed we can play and we can compete with some of the better teams in this league.”
The Eagles had a new face in the lineup, 20-year-old Delta native Akash Bains, who played 40 games in the past two seasons with the Western Hockey League’s Everett Silvertips. “I thought he was good,” said the head coach. “He was good, he was strong, he gave us more calmness, the way he was playing pucks. He looked like a vet, and he made the right decisions at the right time. Right now, he is looking like he is a good fit,” although Bains has yet to officially sign with the team.
The Eagles wrap up their pre-schedule schedule Saturday night with a game in Chilliwack against the Chiefs, who posted a 4-3 victory in South Surrey Arena last week.