Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Stenerson Scores in OT; Eagles Move On

Michael Stenerson scored the winning goal 2:41 into overtime as the Surrey Eagles defeated the Chilliwack Chiefs 3-2 on Monday evening at Prospera Centre to advance to the Coastal Conference Final. The win capped a 3-0 series sweep in the best-of-five series for the Birds who will now face either the Alberni Valley Bulldogs or the Victoria Grizzlies.

Chilliwack forward Tanner Cochrane was knocked out of the game midway through the first when he was hit heavily into the sideboards in the Surrey zone, appearing to injure his right ankle. He did not return to the action. Adam Tambellini got the Eagles on the board with just under five minutes remaining in the opening frame when he fired a hard wrister past Mitch Gillam from the slot for his seventh of the playoffs. The Chiefs responded quickly though, tying the game before the end of the period after Austin Plevy knocked a centring pass from Luke Esposito out of the air and past Michael Santaguida.

The Chiefs took the lead in the middle frame when Spencer Graboski went hard to the net and the puck bounced off his right foot and across the goal line. The officials didn't initially signal a goal, but after a lengthy discussion, they decided that it would count. The Eagles pressured for an equalizer, and Stenerson had a golden opportunity where he hammered a wrist shot off the right post from the high slot. Surrey did eventually tie the game at 17:43 after Stenerson won an attacking zone face-off back to Brett Mulcahy who let loose a vicious one-timer that beat Gillam cleanly.

The two teams traded chances in the third, but once again it was the Eagles with the better of the offensive opportunities. Drew Best found the iron, and Kevan Kilistoff had a great chance to give Surrey a lead in the final minute when he received a pass at the top of the crease with Gillam down and out, but the Langley native just couldn't will the puck into the net. The Eagles lost Adam Tambellini in the late stages of the third after he fell awkwardly into the sideboards and didn't come back to the action. The game remained tied after 60 minutes, and for the first time in the playoffs, the Birds went to overtime.

Stenerson had a chance to end the game moments before he scored the winner when he was sprung in on a partial breakaway but shot over the net. On Surrey's next rush up the ice, Brady Shaw danced through the Chilliwack defence and deked to the backhand, just missing the right post. However, the play wasn't done there as Demico Hannoun got the puck in the right corner and fed out front to Stenerson who ended the game with a shot that snuck past Gillam into the top corner.

The Eagles will begin the best-of-seven Coastal Conference Final on Friday night, and Game 2 will go on Saturday. Both games will be played at the South Surrey Arena. For tickets, call the Eagles office beginning at noon on Tuesday at 604-531-GOAL (4625).

Pro4 Sports 3 Stars:
1. Michael Stenerson - Surrey
2. Austin Plevy - Chilliwack
3. Spencer Graboski - Chilliwack

My 3 Stars:
1. Michael Stenerson - Surrey
2. Spencer Graboski - Chilliwack
3. Adam Tambellini - Surrey

Highlights courtesy of the Chilliwack Chiefs.

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