Flying start to Eagles' home stand

A pair of wins went a long way for the Surrey Eagles last weekend.

With a pair of 3-2 victories – Friday over the Langley Chiefs in overtime, and Saturday over the visiting Trail Smoke Eaters – the B.C. Hockey League club managed to keep a firm grasp on third place in the Coastal Conference, while moving within striking distance of the second-place Chiefs.

With a 31-21-1-2 (won-loss-tied-overtime loss) record, the Eagles currently sit one point back of the second-place Chiefs – and are now a comfortable seven points clear of the seventh-place Powell River Kings. The top six teams qualify for playoffs.

Friday’s overtime win – Cameron Sinclair scored the winner 1:41 into the extra frame – was a big one for the Eagles, who’ve had trouble with their Langley rivals for much of the year. Surrey has defeated the Chiefs just three times in 11 games – and many of the losses have been by just one goal.

Friday’s game seemed destined for a similar result, as the Eagles fell behind 2-0 by the second period, until a pair of even-strength goals from defenceman Ryan Adams knotted the game at 2-2.

“It’s about time we won one,” Eagles leading scorer Scott Knowles said.

“We were down by a couple, but some different guys stepped up. It was a big win for us.”

In addition to scoring Friday’s winner, Sinclair added two more Saturday against the Smoke Eaters, giving him a team-leading 35 goals. Scott Knowles had five assists in the two games to boost his point totals to 85 – good for fourth in the league.

Making the Eagles’ four-point weekend more impressive was the fact that the Birds were playing without four key forwards. Adam Basford was suspended last week, and Adam Hartley (leg injury), Max Grassi and John Bokla were also out of the lineup.

“Friday night was a big lift for us, and let everyone know that we can do it undermanned, and that we’ll do it anyway we have to,” Eagles coach Shane Kuss said.

Kuss said Hartley will be out “for awhile yet”, and Gorman’s status was still questionable, but added that Grassi will definitely be in the lineup tonight when the Eagles take on the Burnaby Express.

Last weekend’s games were the first two in a six-game homestand. With both wins coming by just one-goal – a recurring trend for the Eagles since Christmas – it also gave players a chance to get into a playoff mindset, Kuss said.

“It was a great start this weekend. I think the team responded very well,” he said.

“These close games are great for us, in a way, because it’s teaching us, and we’re learning how to hold onto a lead, and also how to come from behind when we’re down a goal or two.

“That’s what the playoffs are going to be like, and we’re getting used to it now – we have been for awhile.”

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