September 14, 2012, Surrey, BC (ISN) – The Chilliwack Chiefs and Surrey Eagles rivalry renews tonight as teams begin home-and-home set in just one of seven BCHL match ups.
The last time they were in the same division, it was the 2005-06 season and they finished at opposite ends of the Mainland Division.
The last time they played under those conditions, it was Feb. 24, 2006 and the first-place Chiefs skated to a 3-3 draw with the last-place Eagles.
In the 2006-07 season, the Chiefs moved to Langley and while that matchup was good too, there was something extra special about Chilliwack/Surrey showdowns. A decade ago, the Chiefs and Eagles fought over the division title and they’re hoping to do so again this season.
Eagles coach Matt Erhart remembers the battles as a former Eagles defenceman and tonight, he leads the Eagles back into the fray. He’s been on both sides too because he played a few games for Harvey Smyl and the Chiefs as an affiliate player.
“I think at the time, they were the two closest teams to each other and my two years (1997-98 and 1998-99), we were first and second,” recalls the 33-year-old. “Playing in the old Chilliwack Coliseum… the rules have changed since then.”
Erhart is alluding to a rough-and-tumble style more prevalent at the time. Yes, the game’s changed but the Eagles fully expect to be tested physically this weekend.
“I think (Harvey) has always had competitive teams, teams that play hard,” said Erhart. “If you take a night off, they’re going to jump on you. I can guarantee a high energy level tonight.”
Another obstacle for the Eagles is Chiefs netminder Mitch Gillam. A BCHL second-team all-star a season ago, the Cornell recruit is tough to solve.
“Our message is that they’re going to come hard and their goalie is one of the top in the league,” noted Erhart. “At the Showcase, it was low-scoring (for Chilliwack) so we need to get pucks to Gillam and not make it easy.”
To help with that, Erhart has at his disposal talented forwards in Michael Stenerson, Demico Hannoun and captain Brandon Morley. Brett Mulcahy is in his third BCHL season and second in Surrey and had a nice Showcase with two goals and one assist.
Erhart hopes the fans get fired up for Chilliwack as well.
“For sure; there’s a lot of our long-time fans and fans in Chilliwack to get back to establishing a rivalry. It’s nice to get these back-to-back games and we play them again at the end of the month.”
Puck drop tonight is 7:00 p.m. at South Surrey Arena.