Eagles facing elimination

Surrey’s Max Grassi goes around Powell River’s Jake Areshenko in Game 2 of the BCHL playoff series. - CHUNG CHOW / BLACK PRESS
Surrey’s Max Grassi goes around Powell River’s Jake Areshenko in Game 2 of the BCHL playoff series.
— image credit: CHUNG CHOW / BLACK PRESS

Despite winning their playoff opener Friday night, the Surrey Eagles found themselves on the brink of elimination Tuesday morning, after a last-minute loss on home ice, and a lopsided defeat Monday night in Powell River.

Surrey edged the sixth-ranked Kings Friday, 3-2, thanks to an overtime marker from Cameron Sinclair, and were just 29.4 seconds away from a two-game sweep at home on Saturday, before Powell River’s Darcy Oakes scored at the 19:31 mark of the third period to give the visitors a 3-2 win.

And the less said about Monday’s contest – a 6-0 Kings’ win – the better.

The Eagles now trail the Kings 2-1 in the best-of-five series. The two squads squared off again Tuesday night in Powell River after The Leaders’ deadline. If the Eagles knot the series back at two games apiece, the final game will be played tonight (Wednesday) at South Surrey Arena.

“We haven’t been playing our best hockey, and we’ve just got to come out ready to play for 60 minutes every night,” Eagles defenceman Ryan Adams said Saturday, after the loss.

“Last night we didn’t play a full 60 minutes either, but we still came out with a win, but tonight we played the same way and didn’t.”

Adams was named the game’s second star Saturday night, and scored the team’s first goal, a power-play goal 49 seconds into the second period.

The marker was a big lift for the Eagles, who had given up a goal to the Kings with just 23 seconds left in the first period. Defenceman Phil Magistrale had the team’s other goal – also on the power play – on a low shot from the point that got through a screen and past Powell River goaltender Chris Rawlings.

With the game tied late in the third period – and the Eagles on a high after killing off a late 5-on-3 Kings’ power play – the home side couldn’t hold the lead after intense pressure from Powell River in the waning moments. The Eagles struggled in the final minutes of each period Saturday, with two Kings’ goals coming in the final minute of the first and third periods, and a third with under six minutes to play in the second.

“We came out flying but then we’d sit back a bit, and we can’t be doing that. If we sit back, that’s when they start rolling over us,” Adams said.

Following Saturday’s loss, Eagles coach Shane Kuss reserved comment immediately after the game.

Though there were a few tense moments Saturday – including one misplayed puck and a bouncing dump-in that nearly bounced through his legs and into the net – Eagles’ goalie Tommy Tartaglione was stellar between the pipes for the Birds in the first two games, stopping 34 shots Saturday and 28 on Friday.

“Tommy stood on his head again for us,” Adams said.

“We count on him to do that for us... we’ve got to help him out though, by putting some pucks in the net, and helping out more defensively.”

Help didn’t come Monday in Powell River, as the Kings scored twice in the first period, and four times in the third to take the lead in the first-round series. They were also 4-for-11 on the power play.

Tartaglione was chased from the nets after the first period, replaced by Justin Mulholland, who stopped 17 of 21 shots.

In Game 1, Teegan Muis and Nolan Toigo scored for the Eagles, in addition to Sinclair’s overtime tally.

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