Thursday, March 6, 2014

Eagles 4 Rivermen 3

Nathan Renouf's goal 6:01 from the end of the third period broke a 3-3 tie as the Surrey Eagles evened their best-of-seven Mainland division semifinal with a 4-3 win in Langley Wednesday.

A determined Eagles squad overcame 3 deficits to wrest home-ice advantage away from the top-ranked Rivermen as the series shifts to South Surrey Arena Friday night.

Langley scored the first goal of each period, opening the scoring on a nifty passing play between Mitch McLain and Matt Ustaski, with the latter firing home the first of his two goals from the right circle four minutes into the game.

Surrey earned their offensive chances in a hard-hitting opening frame, with both Jonah Renouf and Kale Bennett taking the worst of hard checks from McLain and Tyson Witala. The Eagles found their equalizer on a power-play, as captain Danton Heinen wristed home a shot from right wing after a delicious give-and-go sequence with Joe Drapluk.

Langley, though, would find a second lead early in the second period. Gage Torrel redirected James Robinson's hard pass over Surrey netminder Bo Didur on an odd-man rush. The official closest to the net initially waved the goal off, but after an extended conversation (and numerous replays on the Langley Events Centre jumbotron) the decision was, correctly, reversed to give the hosts a 2-1 lead. 

Again, Surrey clawed back through Jonah Renouf. The diminutive winger took out a massive load of frustration on a loose puck near the right point, rifling a slapshot over Langley netminder Brock Crossthwaite's right pad to level the score at 2-2 heading into the third period.

The momentum shifted back in Langley's favour in the opening minute of the final frame, and again through Ustaski, who ripped a puck through Didur from the low slot.

Only the Chilliwack Chiefs were shorthanded more times than Langley in the regular season, and discipline caught up to the Rivermen in the third period as they were assessed four straight minor penalties for hooking, boarding, cross-checking and high-sticking.

The third penalty proved the most costly, as Heinen found linemate Chase McMurphy alone at the back post for the tying goal with 7:46 left in regulation time.

Nate Renouf then completed the comeback 1:45 later, with brother Jonah finding him alone in the slot from behind the net. Renouf unleashed a wrister over Crossthwaite's left shoulder, sending the travelling Surrey fans into a frenzy.

Didur and the Eagles then shut the door, frustrating the Rivermen through the dying minutes to even the series, and setting up an even more engaging Games 3 and 4 in Surrey Friday and Saturday night.

Didur stopped 28 shots to earn his first BCHL postseason win, while the Eagles also won in Langley for the first time in six tries this season.

My Three Stars:
1. Danton Heinen, Surrey
2. Matt Ustaski, Langley
3. Chase McMurphy, Surrey

Up Next: Game 3 is set for Friday night at South Surrey Arena. Game time is 7:00 pm.

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Bell network.

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