Who: Surrey Eagles vs. Trail Smoke Eaters
When: January 17, 7:00 pm
Where: South Surrey Arena
Pay-Per-View: FAST Hockey
Two teams in transition meet tonight in Surrey as the Eagles host the Trail Smoke Eaters for the only time this season. Surrey returns home following a four-game stretch away from South Surrey Arena, and go into tonight's matchup in search of their first victory since January 3rd.
The Eagles dropped a 7-3 decision Wednesday in Coquitlam in a game that saw the Express capitalize on second chances in front of the net, and will be eager to return to South Surrey Arena, a place they've lost only twice since November 1st.
Forwards Chase McMurphy and Anthony Conti make their home debut this evening. McMurphy, an Alaska-Fairbanks commit, returns to international ice after playing each of his first three Junior "A" seasons on a similar surface as a member of the AJHL's Calgary Mustangs. Conti, a North Vancouver product, has collected points in each of his first four games as an Eagle.
Perhaps no current Eagle has been better on home ice than Danton Heinen. Surrey's leading scorer has put home 12 of his 19 goals this campaign on home ice, and was one of three Eagles (Braedan Russell and Nate Renouf the others) to put up a multi-point effort Wednesday.
Wednesday's disappointment aside, Surrey should remain confident of their ability to give Coquitlam a run for third place in the Mainland division. The Eagles enter play tonight six points back of the Express, and certainly will take stock in recent home success in their efforts to close that gap.
Last Meeting: The two sides haven't met since January 4th of last year, when a pair of third-period goals from Brady Shaw lifted the Eagles to a 6-3 win in Trail. Surrey swept the two-game season series last campaign. The last two games in Surrey between the two sides have gone to overtime, with Surrey winning 5-4 on a Devon Toews hat-trick the last time Trail visited the South Surrey Arena.
Our Opponent: The Smokies have endured a season of change on and off the ice, and come into tonight's game with only eight wins to their credit. Head coach Nick Deschenes has put together a young, hungry team as he rebuilds for the future, continuing his wheeling and dealing at last week's deadline by trading veterans Travis Stephens and Braden Pears to Victoria and West Kelowna, respectively. Jesse Knowler inherits the team scoring lead with 23 points while American import Bryan Basilico leads the team in goals with 8. Trail has had success at South Surrey Arena in recent years, winning three times in their last four visits.
In the Press Box: Surrey's Jonah Renouf misses his fifth consecutive game tonight. The Smoke Eaters have no listed injuries.