Eagles lose triple-overtime thriller

  - File
— image credit: File

The Surrey Eagles find themselves in a precarious position – just one game away from playoff elimination – after dropping a 2-1 triple-overtime thriller Tuesday night at South Surrey Arena.

The two BC Hockey League clubs matched each other goal for goal, save for save and nearly shot for shot – the Kings outshot the Eagles 68-64 – but Powell River's Steven Schmidt deflected a point shot from teammate Justin Dasilva 4:52 into the third OT frame to send his club home with the victory, and a stranglehold on the series.

"It's tough - it was probably our best game of the series, even though we lost," said Eagles head coach Matt Erhart.

"We had our chances to win it, too – in overtime and also earlier. We had 17 shots in the third period, had pucks rolling through the crease, goalies making saves… it just wasn't meant to be."

Surrey now trails the top-seeded Kings 3-1 in the best-of-seven Coastal Conference finals; Game 5 is scheduled for Powell River Thursday night.

Powell River got on the board first Tuesday, when Chad Niddery scored on the power play, but Eagles forward Brandon Morley tied the game just over four minutes later with an unassisted tally of his own.

For the next four periods, each team's offence was stymied by the goaltending of Powell River's Michael Garteig and Surrey's Karel St. Laurent.

The two veteran keepers combined to make 129 saves in the contest, and it was fitting, Erhart said, that it took a deflection to finally end the game.

"It was a real battle right to the end, and it makes sense that it was a redirected shot that finally beat Karel, because nothing was going to beat him straight on," the coach said.

"He was just spectacular for us. He has been that way all series – all playoffs, really."

If the Eagles force Game 6, it will be played Friday in South Surrey. An Eagles loss Thursday, and the Kings move on to BCHL finals to battle either the Salmon Arm Silverbacks or Vernon Vipers, who are currently tied 2-2 in their Interior Conference final.

Though it will take three straight victories to advance past the Kings, Erhart insisted his players were still confident they could make it happen.

And if they need proof that it's possible, they needn't look any further than their opponents, as the Kings battled back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Victoria Grizzlies in the previous round.

"Game 4 is always a tough one to lose. If you lose the first or second, you know it's early and it's (easier) to come back, but we have a very confident, very resilient group," Erhart said.

"We know we can do it, and we're ready to play some desperate hockey."

The Eagles' game plan doesn't need to change either, Erhart added, pointing to the fact that every game has been decided by one goal, save for Game 1 when a Kings' empty-netter with three seconds left stretched the margin of victory to two.

"Sure we'd love to be up 3-1 or tied 2-2, but every game of this series has been close. It's just one of those things… maybe if we get a break or two, things will change," he said.

"But the game plan for us is the same – we just have to keep putting ourselves in a position to win."


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