The Surrey Eagles kept their fans on the edge of their seats in squeaking out a pair of wins over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs to open the B.C. Hockey League's best-of-seven Coastal Conference final last weekend.
Surrey blanked the Bulldogs 1-0 in the series opener Friday night at South Surrey Arena and then prevailed 3-2 in overtime in Game 2 Saturday.
Surrey reached the final for the third consecutive year by beating Langley to open the playoffs followed by a sweep of archrival Chilliwack in the Mainland Division final.
The upstart Bulldogs surprised Nanaimo in the first round of the playoffs and then needed overtime in the fifth and final game of the Island Division final to eliminate heavily-favoured Victoria.
The winner of the Surrey-Alberni series will take on the Interior Conference champion in the Fred Page Cup final series. Penticton currently holds at 2-0 series lead over West Kelowna.
The Bulldogs had just one day's rest before beginning their series with the Eagles Friday night. If they were tired they certainly didn't show it as they held the Eagles in check for most of the contest. The game was scoreless for more than 58 minutes until Demico Hannoun finally solved Bulldogs goaltender Jay Deo for the game's only goal late in the final frame.
Surrey goalie Michael Santaguida stopped all 29 shots he faced to earn the shutout and first star honours.
Game 2 Saturday night brought more of the same as both goalies were stingy once again, stopping 66 of 70 shots in regulation.
After a scoreless opening frame, the Bulldogs opened the scoring five minutes into the second period but Surrey answered with an Adam Tambellini power-play marker at the midway point.
Alberni Valley regained the lead with a shorthanded marker four minutes later and carried that edge into the second intermission.
Surrey sniper Brady Shaw netted the only goal of the third period to level the count 2-2, setting the stage for Nicolas Pierog's game winner 1: 18 into overtime.
The series resumed in Port Alberni Monday with Game 4 slated for tonight in the doghouse on Vancouver Island. If necessary, Game 5 will be played Thursday in South Surrey at 7 p.m.
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