A four-goal outburst in the second period helped the Eagles to a 7-4 win in Chilliwack Saturday, as Surrey clinched a playoff berth with eight games remaining in the regular season.
Austin Ferguson scored his first two goals away from home in an Eagles uniform, one of which stood up as the game-winner 19 seconds from the end of the second period, as the Eagles swept the weekend home-and-home series with the Chiefs, winning their fifth game in the past six outings.
It took until the late stages of period one for either team to open the scoring, the best chance early coming off the stick of Anthony Conti, who for the second consecutive night was foiled by Chiefs goaltender Josh Halpenny from point-blank range.
The hosts opened the scoring with less than three minutes left in period one when Jaret Babych roofed a sharp snapper from the right-wing circle, but Ferguson cancelled out Chilliwack's opener just over a minute later when the puck found him at the left post on a Surrey power-play, allowing him to deposit it into the open cage.
The Eagles faced adversity early in period two, though. Braedan Russell thought he'd scored 48 seconds in when he lifted a loose puck over Halpenny, but the goal was disallowed on account of goaltender interference, though no penalty was called. 7 seconds later, Mathieu Tibbet strode in alone for the hosts, tucking a back-hand beneath the pad of Surrey goaltender Devon Fordyce to give Chilliwack a 2-1 lead.
But the Eagles came alive in the second period, scoring four unanswered goals to wrest control of the game from their hosts. Russell, on a similar play to his disallowed goal, scored a legitimate tally at the 6:17 mark, before the two Renoufs, Jonah and Nathan, scored in quick succession to give Surrey a 4-2 lead.
Ferguson then drastically altered a Brian Drapluk point shot, deftly deflecting his teammate's wrister on a Surrey power-play to give Surrey a 5-2 lead after 40 minutes.
Undaunted, the Chiefs attempted a comeback in the third, getting life into Prospera Centre when captain Tanner Cochrane scored on a breakaway just over 7 minutes into the final frame.
But again, the Eagles countered, with Conti besting Halpenny with a backhand after a nifty two-on-one feed from Danton Heinen.
Ben Butcher and Heinen (into an empty net) traded goals in the dying minutes as the Eagles withstood a 19-shot Chilliwack barrage in the third period to hold the lead, and their vise-like grip on a precious playoff berth.
Nathan Renouf led all scorers with four points for Surrey, while Fordyce made 38 saves in goal.
With the win, and results elsewhere, Surrey moved to within five points of third-place Coquitlam in the Mainland division standings. Both teams have eight games left in their regular-season schedules, though there are no head-to-head meetings.
My Three Stars:
1. Braedan Russell, Surrey
2. Austin Ferguson, Surrey
3. Mathieu Tibbet, Chilliwack
Up Next: Surrey is idle until Saturday, February 8th when they host the Penticton Vees at South Surrey Arena. Game time is 7:00 pm.
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