The Surrey Eagles kicked off the 2012-13 season by splitting a pair of games at the B.C. Hockey League showcase weekend in Chilliwack.
The showcase, which features all 16 BCHL clubs playing two games each in one community, is a new initiative this season and is aimed at increasing exposure for players aspiring to earn college scholarships. Surrey beat Powell River 3-2 in overtime on Friday night but were tripped up 6-1 by West Kelowna Sunday.
Eagles coach Matt Erhart said he liked the event even though the games had a distinct preseason vibe to them.
"It's kind of weird because these games count in the standings but it really felt like a dry-run before we start the regular season with our home opener," Erhart said. "I was working on things like line combinations and seeing what worked and what didn't.
"We're now 1-1 in the standings but it almost felt like our final two exhibition games where the coaches are finding out more about our team in preparation for the start of the year. It was a great event though with lots of positive feedback from the college coaches."
The Eagles picked up their first points of the season with a 3-2 overtime win over the Kings, a team that has knocked Surrey out of the playoffs in the Coastal Conference finals in each of the past two springs.
Craig Wyszomirski scored one goal and set up Demico Hannoun for the game winner 61 seconds into overtime to lead the Eagles to the win. Brett Mulcahy scored the other Surrey goal while Stefan Burzan collected a pair of assists.
Sunday's date with the Warriors was less memorable for the Eagles. Surrey opened the scoring with a Mulcahy power play marker midway through the first period but West Kelowna dominated the score sheet after that. Led by Brett Mckinnon's goal and two assists, the Warriors scored twice in all three periods to cruise to the 6-1 win.
"The boys played really hard and I think as the season unfolds, West Kelowna and Powell River will be among the top teams in the league this year," Erhart said. "So these games were a good way for us to learn about the character of our team and how hard they want to play against some of the top teams. These were the first two games we've played with this lineup and we're happy with the effort our guys put in."
Erhart added that it was far too early to read much into the weekend's results given the lack of preparation time and the unfamiliarity newer players have with their teammates and the league.
"Some of our mistakes might actually be a case of trying too hard and putting ourselves out of position," Erhart said. "We only had three days of practice (since the roster was finalized) and I can live with some of the mistakes we made because there are still things we have yet to work on. The things that we can control - things like work ethic and shift length - I'm very happy with what I saw this weekend."
The Eagles return to a more familiar schedule this weekend with their home opener Friday (Sept. 14) at 7 p.m. against the Chilliwack Chiefs at South Surrey Arena. The two teams then travel up the Valley for a rematch in Chilliwack Saturday.
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