Goal from the goalie

Tommy Taglione with the puck he fired into an empty net Tuesday against the Powell River Kings. - CHUNG CHOW / BLACK PRESS
Tommy Taglione with the puck he fired into an empty net Tuesday against the Powell River Kings.
— image credit: CHUNG CHOW / BLACK PRESS

With his Surrey Eagles mired in a three-game slump, goaltender Tommy Tartaglione did all he could Tuesday – defensively and offensively – to pull his team back onto a winning track.

Not only did Tartaglione, who joined the Eagles from the Western Hockey League’s Prince George Cougars at the January trade deadline – stop 36 of 38 shots to lead the Eagles to a 5-2 victory over the Powell River Kings, but he also capped the game with a goal of his own – an empty-netter with 29 seconds left in the third period.

Tartaglione corralled the puck at the side of his goal crease before rifling a sky-high shot at the Kings’ yawning cage.

“The puck just went straight up over the guys’ heads, landed flat and kept going,” Tartaglione said.

For his ability to channel Ron Hextall – whose goal-scoring exploits while manning the crease for the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1980s and ’90s earned him numerous headlines – the Eagles’ keeper was named the game’s first star.

“I scored a few goals in roller hockey before, or in non-competitive situations just messing around, but this is the first one I’ve ever scored in a game,” he said, just moments after arriving back at South Surrey Arena from Powell River.

“I’ve probably tried six or seven times before, but I’ve had a couple icing calls, a few blocked shots. It was a pretty cool moment – something everybody will remember.”

After the puck crossed the line, the fiery goalie celebrated by launching himself into the Plexiglas in the corner of the rink. Team captain Phil Magistrale was the first to greet him, before Tartaglione was mobbed by the rest of his mates.

“Phil was the first guy that I saw, and he was just yelling,” the 19-year-old California native said.

Eagles’ owner Ronnie Paterson, a former goaltender himself with the Richmond Sockeyes and the Canadian Olympic team, was equally impressed.

“It’s something I tried to do my whole career but never could,” he laughed.

“It’s quite a unique accomplishment. We’re very proud of him.”

In Tuesday’s game, four other Eagles found the back of the net in addition to their goalie-turned-Gretzky. Adam Basford opened the scoring on the power play, and Matt Redkwich doubled the team’s lead before the first intermission.

Redkwich added a second goal – this time shorthanded – in the middle frame, and Cameron Sinclair also added his team-leading 30th of the season.

The win vaulted the Eagles into a third-place tie with the Burnaby Express in the BCHL’s Coastal Conference, with 59 points (28-20-1-2).

The Birds are back on the road this weekend, taking on the Victoria Grizzlies Friday night at Bear Mountain Arena before facing the Kings in a rematch Saturday.

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