Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Batch's Breakdown: Round 1 vs. Langley

The Eagles opened the 2013 playoffs with a first round match-up against the Langley Rivermen. Surrey took the best-of-five series in four games and advanced to the Mainland Division Final.

Friday, March 15th - Game 1

The opening game in the series started out as a fast paced and physical affair. Surrey got the opening goal in the first period when Joel Gaudet found Kevan Kilistoff on a two-on-one, and Kilistoff scored the first Surrey goal of the playoffs to make it 1-0. The Rivermen pressured throughout the game, looking for an equalizing goal, but Michael Santaguida was very strong in net, and Adam Tambellini added a power play marker to give Surrey a 2-0 win in Game 1.

Saturday, March 16th - Game 2

The Rivermen finally scored on Santaguida 7:30 into the second game of the series when Evan Campbell tallied a power play marker. That would prove to be the only goal of the game as Langley evened the series. James Barr was absolutely spectacular in the game, making 42 saves for the shutout including a number of highlight reel stops to keep the Eagles off the board in the third period.

Monday, March 18th - Game 3

The Birds found their offensive stride as the series shifted back to Langley. Michael Stenerson opened the scoring for Surrey in the first three minutes of the game, and the Eagles got additional goals from Brady Shaw, Nic Pierog, Craig Wyszomirski and Adam Tambellini who tallied a pair in a convincing 6-2 victory, putting the Rivermen on the brink of elimination heading into Game 4.

Tuesday, March 19th - Game 4

Brady Shaw scored on the power play just 35 seconds into what would prove to be the final game in the series. The Rivermen battled hard and tied the game twice -- at 1-1 and 2-2 -- but in the end the Surrey offensive attack was too much for the Langley club. Making a comeback even harder was the fact that the Boatmen gave the Eagles nine power plays in the game, and the Birds scored on two of them. The final score was 6-3 with Surrey also getting goals from Pierog, Trevor Cameron and a hat-trick from Tambellini.

Positives from the Series

After struggling to find the back of the net in the opening two games, Surrey's offensive guns showed up and clinched the series for the Birds. Tambellini was the best player on the ice in Game 4 and now has six goals, leaving him tied for the league lead in playoff goal scoring with Chilliwack's Phil Zielonka.

The Eagles defence was strong throughout the four games, and with an injury to Tommy Stipancik in Game 2, Dan O'Keefe stepped up and played very well in an increased role on the blue line. Santaguida was his usual self in net, posting an impressive 1.51 goals-against average and a .955 save percentage in the opening round.

Special teams were a big factor in the first series for Surrey as well. The Birds' power play went 5-for-20 and is currently third in league in the post-season. The penalty kill was efficient as well, finishing the series at 80 per cent.

It was also incredibly important for the Eagles to finish the series in Game 4 and not give the Boatmen any life to try and pull off an upset in a fifth game, and despite a scrappy Langley team that kept battling back in the game, the Birds were eventually able to separate themselves on the scoreboard and wrap up the series.

Negatives from the Series

The only notable negative I can see when looking back at the series was highlighted in Game 2. The Eagles were the better team in the game, but Barr's goaltending performance allowed the Rivermen to steal a win. Not to take anything away from the spectacular display that the Langley goalie put on, but I thought the Birds made him look better than he was at times. There were many saves he made where Surrey forwards could have taken better shots, and if the Birds had been able to capitalize on even one of those opportunities, the series may not have even reached Game 4.

Fortunately for Surrey, their scorers looked potent in the final two games and were able to pop 12 goals past Barr, but a killer instinct around the goal will be essential in the next round as the Eagles will be facing either Mitch Gilliam or Kirk Thompson, both of whom are elite goaltenders in this league.

Eagles Goal of the Series

Nic Pierog's Goal/Home Run in Game 3. Watch it here.

Eagles Save of the Series

Michael Santaguida's Stop on Mario Puskarich in Game 4. Watch it here.

3 Stars of the Series
1. Adam Tambellini
2. Brady Shaw
3. Michael Santaguida

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