Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Batch's Breakdown: RBC Cup

After being crowned the first ever champions of the Western Canada Cup, the Eagles made the long trip across the country to Summerside, PEI for the RBC Cup.

Sunday, May 12th vs. Truro Bearcats

The Birds opened the tournament a day after the rest of the teams. Truro came into the game after losing 7-1 to Brooks on the opening day, and the Eagles handed them a similar defeat, cruising to a 7-0 win. Michael Stenerson had a five point game while Demico Hannoun scored twice and Michael Santaguida made 24 saves for the shutout.

Monday, May 13th vs. Summerside Western Capitals

The round robin meeting between the two teams was an exciting back-and-forth affair. The two sides traded goals in the first before the Capitals pulled out to a 4-2 lead in the second. Surrey battled back in the third to tie the game at 4-4 thanks to tallies from Devon Toews and Adam Tambellini. Brett Mulcahy netted the OT winner for the Birds as Surrey improved to 2-0.

Wednesday, May 15th vs. Minnesota Wilderness

The Eagles had a much more complete effort against the USA representatives, winning 5-0. Five different players found the back of the net, and Santaguida posted his second shutout of the round robin, making 29 saves to become the first goalie since 1998 to post two goose-eggs in a single round robin at the RBC.

Thursday, May 16th vs. Brooks Bandits

Surrey concluded the round robin with a re-match of the Western Canada Cup final against the Brooks Bandits, and the Birds had arguably their worst start to a game all season, giving up three goals in the first seven minutes and falling behind 5-0 before the midway mark of the second period. The Eagles were able to find the net twice as Dan O'Keefe tallied his first of the year and Trevor Cameron scored a beautiful shorthanded goal, but it wasn't enough to overcome the deficit, and Surrey lost 5-2.

Saturday, May 18th vs. Summerside Western Capitals

The Eagles entered the semi-final having not played an elimination game all season. The second match-up between the two teams was as exciting as the first but much more cagey. Summerside opened the scoring in the final minute of the second period before the Eagles equalized early in the third off a Drew Best breakaway. The Western Capitals went ahead again a few minutes later after Danny Chiasson scored, but Surrey tied it up again when Mulcahy found the net to send the game to OT. The extra period was filled with controversy. Surrey had to kill off a lengthy five-on-three after a couple of questionable calls while Summerside forward Chris Caissy laid a devastating blind-side hit on Devon Toews that went unpenalized and knocked the Surrey blue liner out of action for a lengthy period of the overtime. Eventually, Caissy ended Surrey's season after making a nice move to find space in the slot and beat Santaguida.

Final Thoughts

Normally in this section, I would look at positives and negatives from the tournament, but with the season at a close, I feel it makes more sense to look at the tournament and the season as a whole rather than dwell on specific positives and negatives.

First of all, this season was an amazing run, and every Eagles player should be incredibly proud of what they accomplished. The Eagles defeated the eventual national champions and the runners up, and showed that they deserved to hang with the best in the country. Were they the better team in the semi-final game against Summerside? Yes, I believe they were. Did they deserve to be in the final? Yes, I believe they did. But the hockey gods don't always deliver in single game elimination scenarios, and that's just the way it is.

This team is one that I'll remember for a long time. A group that didn't look like it would be able to accomplish big things at the outset of the season came together, and with the help of some key acquisitions, turned into something special. As someone who had the opportunity to be around the players and coaching staff on almost a daily basis in the post-season, I can't say enough about how close-knit this team was and how committed they were to giving their best effort every single night.

And now as the season ends, the focus quickly turns to next year's edition of the Eagles, and the heavy task of replacing over half the team. With a short summer ahead, training camp isn't very far away at all, and before you know it, the Birds will be underway in the 2013-2014 season.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has made my first year in Surrey so special. The players who were welcoming and accommodating for interviews throughout the year and were so incredibly fun to watch on the ice. The front office staff for being so helpful with my transition to the booth and the volunteers who are the backbone of the team. To the fans and listeners who tuned-in to my broadcasts and read my articles all season long, thanks for listening and reading, and I hope that you enjoyed watching this team as much as I enjoyed covering them. I also must thank the coaching staff, particularly Matt Erhart who was gracious enough to allow me to interview him before every single game this season while also doing the weekly Matt Erhart Show and chatting with me for post-game video interviews during the playoffs. Matt's willingness to participate in all of my media endeavours made my job 100 times easier, and I look forward to many conversations with him again next season.

Finally, I want to wish good luck to the players who are moving on to the next stage of their lives. For some, the fall will bring a trip down south to an NCAA school to continue their hockey careers. For others, the beginning of the school year will mean playing hockey at a post-secondary institution in Canada while some players may have played their last competitive hockey game. The 2012-2013 Surrey Eagles consisted of some of the best young men I've ever had the pleasure of knowing, and I'm sure they will all go on to great things whether their accomplishments come on or off the ice.

And to those players who will be back next season, we'll see you at the SSA in August!

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