The Alberni Valley Bulldogs (13-5-0-0) travel to the South Surrey Arena where they take on the Surrey Eagles (15-1-0-0) in a battle of the top two teams in the Coastal Conference.
This is the first game between the two clubs since the Bulldogs eliminated the Eagles in a thrilling 7 game series last spring. The win propelled the Bulldogs onto the Coastal Championship series, and ultimately their first berth in the League Championship. For the Eagles, a great season where they finished as the #2 seed, came to a crashing end.
The 2nd round series a year ago featured a battle of back up goalies as both Hobie Hedquist of the Bulldogs and Eli Puller of the Eagles were forced to watch Campbell Arnold and Michael Sochan went toe-to-toe. Fast forward to tonight and the goaltending match-up is even more scintillating. Hedquist of course has moved on to North Dakota, and Surrey turned heads as they moved MVP candidate Pulver to the Salmon Arm Silverback to make room for Ajeet Gundarah from Langley.
Bulldogs fans might remember Gundarah making life miserable for them when the Rivermen defeated the Bulldogs in 6 games during the 21-22 season. Gundarah boasts the leagues 2nd best save % at .942, while Tung is right behind at .930. It should be a tremendous display of goaltending.
The offensive players in tonight’s game might well look to prove they hold the upper hand on the talented goaltenders. Tonight’s game features Caden Cranston and Aaron Schwartz who lead the BCHL with 28 and 27 points respectively. Hot on their heels is Bulldogs captain Nicholas Beneteau with 23 points. Cranston also leads the BCHL with 14 goals, two ahead of the Bulldogs Hayden Stavroff.
The Eagles have been at the top of the class all season long. They opened the season with a 12 game winning streak, dropped a tight one to Chilliwack, and have responded with 3 straight wins. The Bulldogs are fresh off seeing their own 7 game winning streak end on Saturday to Nanaimo. Will they be able to respond in hostile territory? The Eagles are billing tonight’s game as a “Revenge” game to their fans.
The Bulldogs return home next Saturday to face the Nanaimo Clippers for the final time in the 23-24 regular season.