Monday, May 6, 2013

Batch's Breakdown: Western Canada Cup

After defeating the Penticton Vees to win the Fred Page Cup, the Surrey Eagles made the trip across the water to Nanaimo for the inaugural Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup.

Saturday, April 27th vs. Brooks Bandits

The Birds opened the tournament against the AJHL champions from Brooks. Surrey had a slow start to the game, and the Bandits made them pay, jumping out to a 3-0 lead before the midway mark of the second period. The Eagles responded with a good effort in the latter portion of the game, but it wasn't enough to overcome the deficit as Brooks won 4-2. Brady Shaw and Drew Best had the Surrey goals.

Monday, April 29th vs. Steinbach Pistons

Surrey bounced back with a 5-3 win over the Manitoba representatives, but the win was far from an oil painting. The Eagles led 3-0 late in the second period but let the foot off the gas as the Pistons battled back to within one goal on a couple of occasions. Michael Stenerson's empty net goal sealed the win for Surrey in the final minute.

Tuesday, April 30th vs. Nanaimo Clippers

The Eagles really found their stride against the host team, and Surrey pulled away in the second period after a close fought opening 20 minutes. Best scored just 48 seconds into the middle frame while Adam Tambellini added another goal, and Best scored again before the end of the stanza. Stenerson extended the lead to four with a goal that came 13 seconds into the third period, and the Birds improved to 2-1 on the tournament. Michael Santaguida made 31 saves for the shutout.

Thursday, May 2nd vs. Yorkton Terriers

The Birds knew that a win against Yorkton would mean a spot in the final of the Western Canada Cup, and the Eagles played with the necessary urgency, putting forth a solid effort against the Saskatchewan champions. The Birds were incredibly disciplined in the game, taking only one penalty. Shaw scored twice while Tambellini rippled the mesh as well in the 3-1 win for Surrey.

Saturday, May 4th vs. Brooks Bandits

Surrey played its best game of the tournament in the final against Brooks. Goals from Best, Jordan Klimek and Demico Hannoun gave the Eagles a 3-0 lead through two periods, and Craig Wyszomirski added to the lead early in the third. Cam Maclise got a goal back for the Bandits, but the Birds controlled the play and cruised to a berth at the Royal Bank Cup.

Positives from the Tournament

While the Birds had a slow start to the WCC, they brought their A game when it counted. The victory over Brooks in the final was the most complete effort the Eagles have put forth in a while as Surrey controlled the game from start to finish to clinch a spot in the RBC for the first time in 15 years.

Offensively, Brady Shaw, Drew Best and Adam Tambellini had outstanding tournaments. Best, who was given an opportunity for more ice time early in the week, made the most of the chance, showing great vision in the attacking zone and finishing tied with Shaw for the tournament lead in points.

The captain Brett Mulcahy was a warrior throughout the tournament, playing valuable minutes on the penalty kill and blocking any shot that came in his vicinity in his own end. The same can be said of Trevor Cameron who played well at both ends of the ice, putting up six points in the five games.

Devon Toews was named the tournament MVP, and rightfully so. The veteran blue liner showed great poise and was Surrey's best and most consistent player over the course of the week. His ability to make calm decisions in his own end while under heavy pressure has saved the Eagles from giving up goals countless times this season, and it did so again at the WCC.

Negatives from the Tournament

After winning the Fred Page Cup, Surrey's start to the opening game against Brooks was far too casual, and it cost them. The Eagles followed up the loss with their worst performance of the post-season, but they managed to defeat Steinbach in spite of themselves. Once the Birds got back to playing the way they can, they were able to control games and win with relative ease, but with a long plane ride to Prince Edward Island coming up this week, the Eagles will need to focus on having a better start to the RBC than they did at the WCC.

Looking at the statistics, Surrey's special teams could probably use a slight improvement as well. The Eagles were under 20 per cent on the power play, although they could have easily scored more on the man advantage as they generated a number of opportunities. The penalty kill was middling as well at 80 per cent. The Birds started to block more shots as the week went on, and it helped improve their numbers while shorthanded. The ability to block shots will be key for the PK going forward.

Eagles Goal of the Tournament

Demico Hannoun's Goal in the Final. Watch it here.

Eagles Save of the Tournament

Michael Santaguida's Stop on Jeremy Johnson. Watch it here.

3 Stars of the Tournament:
1. Devon Toews
2. Brady Shaw
3. Drew Best

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