Eagles ousted

A lack of offence has spelled an early end to the Surrey Eagles’ season.

The BC Hockey League club lost 3-0 to the Powell River Kings Tuesday night – the second straight game the Eagles failed to score a single goal – to fall to the Kings three games to one in the first round, best-of-five series.

The Eagles won the opening game last Friday before dropping three in a row. With the upset, the Kings – who were sixth in the BCHL’s Coastal Conference compared the Birds’ third seed – now move on to face the first place Nanaimo Clippers in Round 2.

The Eagles finished the regular season with a 33-23-1-3 record, good for 70 points, while the Kings were seven points behind, with a mark of 26-23-1-10.

Surrey’s lack of offence – 120 scoreless minutes – came as something of a surprise, considering the team was seventh in the BCHL in goals during the regular season, averaging 3.9 per game, and boasted three 20-goal scorers in Scott Knowles, Ryan Pajimola and Cameron Sinclair (who led the team with 36).

The trio combined for just one goal, and four assists, in the four-game series. However, considering the team scored just five times in total, it’s tough to pin the lack of offence solely on their shoulders.

After the Game 2 loss, a 3-2 decision on home ice, Eagles defenceman Ryan Adams said it was key for his entire team to give support to goaltender Tommy Tartaglione by “putting some pucks in the net.”

Eagles coach Shane Kuss was not available for comment by The Leaders’ deadline.

Tartaglione, who joined the team in January, was strong between the pipes for the Eagles for the most part, finishing the round with a 2.71 goals-against average and an impressive 91.6 per cent save percentage.

The trouble for the Eagles was the other net’s tender – 19-year-old Chris Rawlings – was even better, posting back-to-back shutouts and allowing just five goals on 99 total shots.

Last year, in which every Coastal Conference team made the playoffs, the Eagles also bowed out in the first round, losing 3-1 to the Nanaimo Clippers, who went on to capture the Fred Page Cup as league champs.

The team has won just two playoff games since winning the Fred Page Cup in 2005.

There is, however, reason to look forward to next season. Though the team will lose several players, including captain Phil Magistrale, Adams and Knowles – the latter who’ll play U.S. college hockey next year at the Rochester Polytechnic Institute – they’ll still likely return a handful of key contributors including Sinclair, top-six forward Max Grassi, and Pajimola.

In the past month, the team has also signed prospects Cole Gelley, junior B forward Trevor Hamaguchi and major midget league blue-liner Tyler Mah for next year.

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