The Surrey Eagles had the Rivermen’s number so far this year with a 5-1 win advantage going into Saturday night’s game. The Rivermen were looking to get back in the win column for the first time in three games and pad their lead over Coquitlam in the standings. It was the second to last meeting overall in the season series and the two clubs did not disappoint the crowd at the South Surrey Arena. Once again James Barr would go up against Michael Santaguida in between the pipes for the second time in a week,
The Rivermen would start off the game on the right foot as they were the first to get on the board on a goal from Matt Ustaski. The big centre would spot a loose puck off a scramble in front of the Surrey net and was able to shovel it home for his 10th of the season. The lead would not last long as a shift later, Nicholas Pierog would tie the game on a long shot along the ice that beat Barr low on the stick side. With time winding down, Michael Stenerson and Brady Shaw would connect for the go ahead goal. Shaw made a great play to enter the attacking zone and feathered a perfect pass on the tape of Stenerson who redirected home his 14th goal of the the year. The ‘Birds would take a 2-1 lead into the second and out shot Langley 16-11.
In the second period, the same tandem of Stenerson and Shaw would get back on the board, but this time it was Stenerson setting up Shaw for his first of the game to make it 3-1. The Rivermen would not back off and cut the lead to one on a blast from Mitch McLain. Off a set face-off Matt Ustaski won the draw directly back to McLain who one-timed a slap shot past Santaguida who was caught off guard. The ‘Men would complete the comeback on a highlight reel goal from Austin Azurdia. The rookie winger would get away from an Eagles defender from behind the goal and stickhandle his way to the net and fire a shot top corner to even up the game. However, the tie was short-lived as the Eagles would score again on the next shift. The Eagles Captain Brett Mulcahy took the puck down the left-wing and drove hard to the net past a Rivermen defenseman and slid home the fourth Eagles goal. That would be the last goal of a very entertaining second period.
In the third period, controversy would happen with a disallowed goal from Mitch McLain. The gritty winger would take a pass behind the defense and get hauled down, which caused a delayed call, but McLain would refuse to give up on all fours and chipped home the puck past Santaguida. The referee Marc Pearce decided that he blew the whistle before the puck had gone in, which caught a lot of people off guard especially the Rivermen. They had thought they tied the game, but it was not the case. The Eagles would ice the game on an empty net goal from Trevor Cameron and skated away with a 5-3 win.
It was a tough pill to swallow as the Rivermen deserved a better fate. Santaguida would pick up the win, while Barr was charged the loss as over 70 shots were fired between both goaltenders.
The ‘Men will play host to the Coquitlam Express for the last time this season on Tuesday at 7:15 PM at the Langley Events Centre.