Braedan Russell celebrated his birthday with a last-gasp game-winner as the Eagles outgunned the Chilliwack Chiefs 7-6 at South Surrey Arena Monday.
Russell's shot from the right-wing circle caromed off a Chiefs defenseman into the net with 39 seconds left to put Surrey back in the win column, and help the home side pick up their third consecutive victory over their Fraser Valley rivals.
Surrey's captain Danton Heinen led the offensive charge with a hat-trick, and opened the scoring 2:08 into the first period after Anthony Conti fed him a centring pass from the right wing. That goal was quickly cancelled out by Chiefs rookie Jordan Kawaguchi, who ripped home a shot off a face-off win in the Surrey zone 44 seconds later.
The Eagles restored their lead on a power-play minutes later thanks to Jonah Renouf, who deflected his brother Nathan's shot through Chilliwack netminder Spencer Tremblay's legs, but again the Chiefs replied on an unassisted goal by Jake Hand, eventually taking the lead on a power-play of their own when Zach Diamantoni deflected a point shot past Surrey goaltender Bo Didur 1:43 from the end of a wild first period.
The scoring came to a brief slowdown in period two, with Surrey capitalizing on a pair of goal-mouth scrambles in front of Tremblay. First, Russell tucked home the first of his two goals at 8:37 before Heinen banged home a rebound on a 5-on-3 after linemate Conti hit Tremblay's left post from in tight.
Heinen completed the hat-trick with another power-play marker 25 seconds into the third period, finding the top corner of the net from a sharp angle down the right wing.
That goal seemed to spur on the visitors, who stormed back with three unanswered goals from Andrew Silard, Jaret Babych and Carter Cochrane in a spell of 8:19 to reclaim the lead at 6-5.
But the confident Eagles found a way to overcome that spate of adversity, tying the game at 12:33 when, after Kale Bennett fired a slapshot off the end glass, Jonah Renouf slipped a rebound through Tremblay for his second goal of the game.
The Eagles were forced to kill off a late penalty before Russell found the game on his stick in the dying moments. It was the Oakville, Ontario product's first game-winning goal of the season.
The Eagles responded to their recent 1/23 home power-play slump by going 3/7 while a man up, while Chilliwack scored 2 power-play goals of their own on seven opportunities.
Didur made 29 saves to earn the win in his first start since January 15th, while Tremblay stopped 31 Surrey shots.
My Three Stars:
1. Danton Heinen, Surrey
2. Andrew Silard, Chilliwack
3. Braedan Russell, Surrey
Up Next: The Eagles begin a three-game weekend Friday when they host the Salmon Arm SilverBacks at South Surrey Arena. Game time is 7:00 pm.