This is the first edition of a new weekly feature here on the Eagles Insider where I'll look back at the past week for the Birds and provide some of my own analysis and opinions. If you want to submit questions or comments for me to answer or discuss on "Batch's Breakdown" each week, feel free to do so! You can reach me via email at email@example.com or on Twitter by tweeting @Batchelor1040.
The Eagles went to the island this past weekend for their final out-of-town road trip of the regular season and picked up five of a possible six points with an OT win in Powell River, a tie in Port Alberni and another overtime win in Duncan.
Friday, February 22nd vs. Powell River
On Friday, a visit to Hap Parker Arena in Powell River produced one of the most exciting games of the season to this point. Adam Tambellini shone for the Birds, scoring four goals in a 5-4 overtime win.
Head Coach Matt Erhart decided to split up the tandem of Tambellini and Brady Shaw, putting Shaw back on a familiar line with Michael Stenerson and Demico Hannoun while Tambellini played with Brett Mulcahy and Trevor Cameron. While Tambellini received the praise for his four goal effort (and rightfully so), Cameron and Mulcahy also had very strong performances that really stood out for me. The line was unable continue its strong play throughout the rest of the weekend due to the fact that they were split up because of injuries, but they could be a powerful force come playoff time.
Saturday, February 23rd vs. Alberni Valley
The Saturday night game against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs was by far the most exciting game I've ever had the pleasure of broadcasting. The Eagles never led in the game and had to battle to come from behind in the late stages.
Shaw was phenomenal for Surrey, scoring twice to help the Eagles stay in the game. It looked like the effort might be wasted when the Bulldogs scored on the power play late in the third after a marginal call on Michael Stenerson, but Surrey got their own man advantage and pulled the goalie making it a 6-on-4.
Tambellini tied the game with just 14 seconds remaining, scoring a goal that was, in my mind, the most important goal of the season to date as it forced OT and clinched the division title for the Birds.
Both overtime periods were full of frantic action, but Jay Deo in the Alberni net and Michael Santaguida in the Surrey goal were phenomenal in ensuring that the game ended tied.
On a side note, I really enjoyed the atmosphere at Weyerhaeuser Arena. The fans were excited, the building was packed, and when Santaguida and Shaw were both selected as three stars, the crowd cheered them as if they were their own players. I look forward to the day that I can return there for another game.
Sunday, February 24th vs. Cowichan Valley
Surrey concluded the trip with another overtime win, this time defeating the Cowichan Valley Capitals 4-3. The game was a complete team effort as the injuries sustained earlier in the weekend meant that the Eagles were reduced to 14 skaters.
Both Cameron and Devon Toews spent time playing both forward and defense due to the depleted roster. Brenden Sharp also made his first BCHL start in net for the Eagles and acquitted himself very well, picking up the W.
I was quite impressed by the effort the Capitals put forward as well. They definitely didn't look like a team that is in last place in the league and 11 points behind any other opposition. Cowichan had just come off a pair of surprising victories over Victoria, and they nearly upset the Eagles as well, battling from behind to force overtime. Shaw ended up scoring the winner with a nice shot from the right circle, completing a strong weekend effort that saw him named BCHL Player of the Week yesterday.
Positives from the Week
Anytime you can go undefeated in a three game in three night scenario, the week has to be considered a success. This was amplified by the fact that the Eagles were so banged up. By the time they got to the Sunday meeting with Cowichan, the Birds were missing eight regulars, but they were still able to scrape and claw and find a way to win which really impressed me. Not to mention the fact that Surrey clinched the Mainland Division on Saturday!
I also want to highlight the play of Trevor Cameron. While he wasn't named one of the three stars in any of the games over the weekend, Cameron was the most consistent Eagle throughout the three games, and a number of goals were created because of his second effort and work in the dirty areas. With the playoffs just a few weeks away, the importance of a strong effort from players like Cameron can't be understated.
I was also impressed by Alex Whitwham. The 16-year-old affiliate player from the Greater Vancouver Canadians of the BC Major Midget League had a very solid weekend, providing some quality ice time for the Eagles, particularly in the Sunday game against Cowichan. The youngster has all the tools to be a very strong player in this league in the future and is a very good skater to boot.
The Surrey power play was good as well, operating at 21.42% for the weekend (3-for-14). With a man advantage that's currently ranked 14th out of the 16 teams in the BCHL, the fact that the Eagles appear to be rounding into form on the man advantage is critical at this time of year.
Negatives from the Week
Simply put, injuries. While every team has to deal with players getting hurt, the Birds seem to be suffering all of their injuries at the same time. I guess the positive way to look at it is that they'll have a couple of weeks to get healed up and ready for the playoffs, but if the rash of injured players continues, it could be a very worrying prospect with the post-season close at hand.
The Birds also gave up a couple of two-goal leads which forced them to play beyond 60 minutes. Surrey led 2-0 in the second period in Powell River, but a couple of defensive miscues allowed the Kings back into the game. It was the same story on Sunday against the Capitals. The Eagles led 3-1 early in the third, but Cowichan was able to force overtime. You may be able to chalk up the blown leads to the injury problems as Surrey has been very strong when playing with the lead to this point in the season, but it's needless to say that you don't want to be giving up two goal leads in a few weeks time when the games really matter.
Goal of the Week
Adam Tambellini's 4-4 Goal vs. Alberni Valley
See it by clicking here.
Save of the Week
Michael Santaguida's Stop on Hunter Stewart in Double OT vs. Alberni Valley
See it by clicking here.
3 Stars of the Week
1. Brady Shaw
2. Adam Tambellini
3. Trevor Cameron