|Surrey Eagles host the Spruce Kings Friday night at 7pm|
The Spruce Kings are finally in the Lower Mainland and ready to start playing teams from the Mainland Division of the Coastal Conference. There was the one game against the Langley Rivermen on the first weekend of the season at the BCHL Showcase, but this is a full weekend set featuring three games against divisional foes including two against the Rivermen.
It all starts Friday night with the first of eight meetings against the Surrey Eagles and the first of four this season on the bigger Olympic sized ice surface that is the South Surrey Arena. In previous seasons, the Spruce Kings have only played there once a year and that was usually the last game before the Christmas break and the tail end of a long weekend.
Going back over the past ten meetings between these two teams - which spans six years because of two seasons with a half interlock schedule - the Surrey Eagles have a 7-3 record over the Spruce Kings. The most recent meeting on December 18, 2011, was also the only meeting last season between the two teams, the Eagles squeaked out a 2-1 win on their bigger ice surface.
The Surrey Eagles have been playing continuously in the BCHL since the South Surrey Arena was built in 1991. Their logo is an eagle in a jersey holding a hockey stick in its wings. The primary team colours are blue, green and white. They have also been known as the South Surrey Eagles (1996-2003) and their franchise history goes back to 1962 when they were the New Westminster Royals playing in the Pacific Coast Junior Hockey League.
Matt Erhart is the teams current head coach and general manager entering his third year behind the bench. Previously to the Eagles, Erhart was the head coach of the Greater Vancouver Canadians of the BC Major Midget League (2009-10). Erhart is also a player alumni of the Surrey Eagles having played two seasons (1997-1999) there and earning a scholarship to Quinnipiac and the Bobcats (1999-2003).
Interestingly enough that 2009-2010 Greater Vancouver Canadians team was made up of a number of current high profile BCHL'ers including Cam Lawson of the Spruce Kings and the Surrey Eagles current scoring leader - Demico Hannoun. With a birthday yesterday (October 4), Hannoun is now a 17 year old veteran having played last season in the mandatory 16 year old roster spot with the Eagles. In his rookie season he finished with 12 goals and 14 assists in 49 games and this season is on pace to eclipse that with 9 points (4 goals, 5 assists) in 7 games.
Also leading the way for the Eagles is the actual team's leading goal scorer - 19 year old Brett Mulcahy - with 5 goals and 3 assists in 8 games. Mulcahy is a second year vet with the Eagles after being acquired from the Westside Warriors at the beginning of last season.
Michael Stenerson is a 19 year old forward into his third and final season with the Eagles destined for Alaska Anchorage with a NCAA scholarship to play for the Seawolves next year. To go along with his 23 goals and 45 assists in 106 games, Stenerson has 3 goals and 5 assists in 8 games to start this season.
Surrey's top defenceman is Devon Toews who has played in every level of junior hockey league and is also college bound for next season to play with the Quinnipiac Bobcats. Toews has a pair of goals and 3 assists in 8 games to go along with his rookie total of 7 goals and 22 assists in 54 games last season.
The Surrey Eagles have already made a major move between the pipes bringing in Michael Santaguida from the Tri-City Storm of the USHL. Santaguida is a traditional goaltender in that he catches with his right hand. In his first game against the Coquitlam Express he was named the first star posting a 2-1 win with a 30 save performance. The following night was a 4-3 overtime loss to the Chilliwack Chiefs.
Glen Ferguson is the Eagles other netminder with three games to his credit and a record of 2 wins and 1 loss. Both goaltenders show up in the League's Top Ten among goalies with a minimum of two games played. Ferguson is sitting 10th with a GAA of 2.57 and SV% of 90.7 while Santaguida is 7th with a 2.38 GAA and 93.4 save percentage.
For the second weekend in a row the Spruce Kings are on the road for three games in three days. Last weekend the Spruce Kings started off on the right foot with a 5-2 win over the Vernon Vipers and will be looking to duplicate that effort again this weekend against the Surrey Eagles.
During the week the Spruce Kings made a player change acquiring Shayne Morrissey from the Carleton Place Canadians in a trade that saw Alec Butcher head the other way. Morrissey had started the season with the Tri-City Storm of the USHL before getting caught up in a numbers game with just too many centremen on the Storm roster and not enough space on the Canadians team either.
Morrissey arrived in Prince George Wednesday night, skated with his new team Thursday morning and was probably the most excited player to board the bus for the nine hour drive to the Lower Mainland. Getting back on the ice and getting back into game mode is a driving factor for the Spruce Kings right now and might very well provide the needed spark to reignite the team's early season successes.
Morrissey is expected to centre the top line Friday night with Liam Board and Cam Lawson. That will put Lyndon Martell and Coltyn Hansen on the wings with Tyson Witala at centre. The newly dubbed "Cascade Express" line of Justin Rai, Chad Staley and Jeremiah Luedtke are expected to stay together while a game time decision will be needed for the remaining four forwards - Sean Landrey, Jake LeBrun, Bryant Christian and Ryan Keis.
Defensively the Spruce Kings have brought an AP with them in Robert Zadra of Nanaimo. Zadra is expected to see some ice this weekend but likely not against the Surrey Eagles. Trevor Esau, Brad Ryan, Skylar Pacheco, Mitch Eden, Latrell Charleson and Karan Toor will get the task of containing the rush on the bigger ice surface. While Kirk Thompson will be called upon to stop the Eagles in his home town.
The game has a scheduled start time of 7:00pm and will be broadcast live on 93.1 CFIS-FM with free audio feed available online from the radio station's website (www.cfisfm.com). As always the game can be watched on the pay-per-view feed found on www.fasthockey.com (click on the away link for the Spruce Kings broadcast). During the first intermission, Spruce Kings alumni and the man behind the Factory Hockey Training, Troy Dalton will join Ron Gallo on the broadcast.