The Surrey Eagles settled for a split in a pair of games against playoff-bound opponents in B.C. Hockey League action last weekend.
The Eagles cooled off the torrid Nanaimo Clippers 3-2 at South Surrey Arena Friday before venturing up the Fraser Valley where they were tripped up 4-2 by archrival Chilliwack Chiefs the following evening.
Even with the loss to second place Chilliwack, the Eagles still hold a six-point lead in the BCHL's Mainland Division with six games left to play in the regular season.
"We were playing two quality teams so we knew it was going to be a tough weekend," said Eagles coach Matt Erhart. "Nanaimo is hosting the Western Canadian Cup and they've been on a hot streak since Christmas. They're in second place now in the Island Division and they've been moving up month by month. They're a quality hockey team and of course Chilliwack is Chilliwack and they're always tough to play in their rink.
"We probably deserved the split. We played well against Nanaimo and we didn't play bad Saturday, but we kind of ran out of steam. We didn't capitalize on our opportunities and you're going to lose games like that sometimes."
Surrey began the weekend at home with a strong showing against a veteran Clippers squad that had three wins and an overtime loss in their previous four games.
The Eagles took command from the opening whistle, outshooting the visitors 13-3 in the first period but failing to register a goal. The Surrey shooters found their range in the middle frame as Adam Tambellini, Devon Toews and Brett Mulcahy each tallied once to stake the Birds to a 3-0 advantage.
Nanaimo battled back in the final 20 minutes and cut the gap to 3-2, but were unable to net the equalizer.
Injuries sustained in the win over Nanaimo hurt the Eagles the following night in Chilliwack where just 14 skaters were available to take on the Chiefs. Despite the manpower shortage, the Eagles led 2-1 after the first period on goals by Joel Gaudet and Trevor Cameron.
The Chiefs bounced back in the second period, outshooting Surrey 16-7 and tying the game with a power-play marker. Chilliwack finally took the lead in the final frame with their second power-play goal of the evening before sealing Surrey's fate with an empty netter.
The Eagles head overseas this week for games against Powell River (Friday), Alberni Valley (Saturday) and Cowichan Valley (Sunday).