Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Batch's Breakdown: Round 2 vs. Chilliwack

After defeating the Langley Rivermen in four games in the opening round, the Birds took on the Chilliwack Chiefs in the Mainland Division Final and completed the sweep on Monday night to advance to the Coastal Conference Final for the third time in the last three years.

Friday, March 22nd - Game 1

The Eagles pounced on a road-weary Chiefs team early in the first. Brady Shaw scored 46 seconds into the game, and Surrey fired three more past Mitch Gillam before the end of the period -- including a pair from Demico Hannoun. Chilliwack bounced back with a better effort in the second and third, but the Eagles put it in cruise control and closed out the 4-0 win. Michael Santaguida made 35 saves for his second shutout of the playoffs.

Saturday, March 23rd - Game 2

The second game in the series was completely different from the first. Game 2 was a roller coaster ride if I ever saw one with lead changes aplenty and hard battling throughout. In the end, the Birds prevailed 5-4 thanks in large part to an incredible performance from Trevor Cameron who picked up the hat-trick. Ryan Donohoe had a strong game for the Chiefs, scoring twice including shorthanded marker than got Chilliwack on the board after being unable to solve Santaguida for over four periods in the series.

Monday, March 25th - Game 3

The third and final game of the series was the best pure hockey game of the three. After the first two games, which were fairly chippy, both teams settled down and played a good, honest, hard fought game. Adam Tambellini gave Surrey a 1-0 lead in the first before the Chiefs got a pair of goals from Austin Plevy and Spencer Graboski to take the lead. Brett Mulcahy tied the game late in the second, and neither team scored in the third, sending the game to overtime where Michael Stenerson won it with his third of the playoffs.

Positives from the Series

The most important positive from the series was that the Eagles got it done in three games. When you look at the possibility of a long playoff run, a team's ability to finish their opposition when they have them on the ropes can really make a difference down the stretch. The series win really was a full team effort. Every single player on the Eagles contributed in some way to the victory, and every player on the roster can be proud of the fact that they battled hard and didn't give the Chiefs an inch. 

In particular, I want to highlight the play of Stenerson. He had five points in the series and both of his goals were game winners. Simply put, Stenerson showed up when the Eagles needed him the most and provided a clutch performance in Game 3, netting the OT winner. Cameron was also a critical factor in the sweep. If not for his hat-trick in Game 2, helping the Birds to a 2-0 lead in the series, we might be talking about a Game 4 tonight.

I can't go on without mentioning Santaguida's play between the pipes as well. He didn't have to make many spectacular saves in this series, but that's because he was so strong positionally. It seemed like nearly every Chiefs shot ended up right in his chest. He also did a very good job of dealing with the traffic that Chilliwack sent his way.

I'll also tip my cap to the Eagles' penalty killers. The Chiefs entered the series with the best power play in the post-season and went 0-for-9 on the man advantage in the series. Enough said.

Negatives from the Series

To highlight any negatives from this series would be nitpicking, but I guess that's my job. Most notably, the Surrey power play went 1-for-18 in the three games. That's only 5.56%. Granted, they were facing the BCHL's top penalty kill in the regular season, but I still think the Birds could stand to improve a bit on the man advantage.

Once again, injuries have to be mentioned. Tambellini left Game 3 in the third period but was able to make it back out onto the ice for the post-game celebration. It's probably still too early to say, but I wouldn't be surprised if he's back on the ice at the SSA for Game 1 on Friday.

Eagles Goal of the Series 

Michael Stenerson's OT winner in Game 3. Watch it here.

Eagles Save of the Series 

Michael Santaguida's Stop on Kiefer McNaughton in Game 2. Watch it here. 

3 Stars of the Series 
1. Michael Stenerson
2. Trevor Cameron
3. Michael Santaguida

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