Strange as it may be to say, the Chilliwack Chiefs may not mind not seeing the Surrey Eagles for a while.
As horrendous a hockey team as the Eagles have been this year, they never fail to give one of the BCHL’s best a battle. Surrey fought tooth and nail Saturday night at Prospera Centre before finally falling 4-2.
The talent disparity between the Chiefs (24-14-1-1) and the try-hard Eagles (7-32-0-3) was on full display in the opening frame, with Chilliwack dominating from start to finish.
But the home team netted just one goal, scored at 9:53 by newcomer Scott Davidson. The big forward parked at the top of the crease and got his stick on a Bennett Morrison writer from the point, deflecting the puck past beleaguered Surrey keeper Christian Short.
It was Davidson’s 12th of the year and first with Chilliwack after coming over from Trail in a trade deadline deal.
The Chiefs had plenty of opportunity for more. The team was gifted a five on three for 97 seconds in the early going, but the power play came up empty.
Twice, Jordan Kawaguchi had breakaways denied. On the first he was hauled down from behind by Surrey’s Andy Chugg, but did not draw a penalty, much less a penalty a shot. On the second, Kawaguchi beat Short but not the left goal post.
Shots on goal through 20 minutes favoured the Chiefs 13-6.
A feistier Eagles squad hit the ice for period two. That, or Chilliwack fell asleep. Either way the ice tilted in Surrey’s favour in the middle frame, and they drew even at 5:04 on a snipe by Cole Plotnikoff.
The 17 year old tallied his sixth of the year, throwing a rising wrister on net from the high slot. With traffic in front of him, Chiefs netminder David Jacobson may not have seen the puck until it was over his right shoulder into the cage.
With five minutes to go, Chilliwack woke up and rediscovered their first period form. Craig Puffer flew into the Surrey zone and hounded Joseph Drapluk into a turnover behind the Eagles net. A quick pass in front set up line mate Tipper Higgins for a top-shelf shot that briefly put the Chiefs back on top.
But the euphoria lasted all of 27 seconds.
Jordan Wiest beat Jacobson on a just-put-it-on-net wrister from the right wing wall, sending the teams to the third period knotted at 2-2.
Shots on goal through 40 minutes favoured Chilliwack 22-17.
Referee Mike Langin kept his whistle in his pocket most of the night. After their early five-on-three, neither team got a power play until Surrey’s Tyler Harkins was flagged for tripping early in the final frame.
This time Kawaguchi made Surrey pay, netting his 16th of the year as he swooped behind the Eagles net and stuffed a wraparound inside the right post. With 1:43 to go, Kawaguchi helped ice the game in dangle wizard fashion. Spinning away from Surrey’s Joseph Drapluk, the 17 year old pulled the puck back between his skates and, in one slick motion, delivered a cross-crease pass to Jake Hand.
Hand snapped the puck past Short for his 15th of the year.
The three stars were Kawaguchi (a well-deserved first), Surrey’s Darius Davidson (second) and Chilliwack captain Eric Roberts (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Chilliwack’s Kurt Black.
Announced attendance was 2,514.