Teddy Bear Toss nights are a Junior hockey tradition. Every December, hockey teams all across North America host the annual Christmastime tradition, where after the home team scores their first goal of the game, the ice is littered with stuffed bears, dogs, horses and other creatures. Sunday night at the South Surrey Arena was another chapter in the great history of this hockey tradition when they hosted the Langley Rivermen. This year, the Eagles were raising money for Wigs for Kids BC and the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, with all donations going towards play by play broadcaster Joey Pitt’s
500 fans were in attendance, plus Santa Claus, for the game between the next town over rivals. The third matchup between the two teams this season, as Surrey took the first matchup 8-1 at South Surrey Arena on October 14th, and a 3-0 shutout win at George Preston Arena for “The Pulverizer” Eli Pulver and his Eagles compatriots. Langley would be the team to strike first blood in the matchup, as Rivermen forward Vitaly Levvy gained the Surrey zone on the left wing, beat Eagles D-man Ross Roloson wide with speed, before he tucked one between the wickets on Michael Sochan to give the visiting team a 1-0 lead, and take a bit of the air out of The Nest in South Surrey. The Eagles did have a close call immediately after Levvy opened the scoring for Langley. Off the ensuing faceoff, the puck was won back to Ross Roloson, who skated the puck to the Rivermen blueline, and dumped the puck in high off the glass. It would ricochet and take a Bieksa Bounce off the Stanchion and slip between the post and the pad of Langley netminder Ajeet Gundarah, but the goal would be waved off due to the referees losing sight of the puck, which honestly works out better for the Eagles, and their fans, as… Could you imagine the wet fart of a Teddy Bear Toss when the bears are thrown AFTER a referees discussion?
The goaltenders in this game were Ajeet Gundarah for Langley and Michael Sochan for Surrey, and both goalies were very good in the game. Gundarah had an exceptional first period between the pipes for Langley, as he turned away all fifteen Surrey shots in the opening frame. Michael Sochan, who was the quieter of the two, but still busy, stopped eight of nine in the opening frame.
The moment everyone was waiting for came in the second period of play on another classic Eagles two on one. After Ryden Evers made a good play along the half wall to work the puck free for Zachary Wagnon, who came into the zone on an odd man rush with the newest edition to the Eagles, Conner Schneider. Wagnon to Schneider, back to Wagnon, to the back of the net. The Wagnon Wagon pulled into the station, and the teddy bears let fly. It was a sea of colours as bears flew onto the ice from all sides of the ice, as the Eagles goal song, Fly Away by Lenny Kravitz, faded into Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Michael Bublé, and the 500 fans in attendance at the South Surrey Arena rejoiced in a bit of early Christmas cheer.
LET THE BEARS FLY!! pic.twitter.com/E7xjon6cGv
— Surrey Eagles (@SurreyEagles) December 5, 2022
After the Eagles bench hopped onto the ice to help in the cleanup, which all in all only took about five minutes, which is pretty good time for a Teddy Bear Toss, the Eagles and Rivermen returned to the ice to resume the game. After another thirteen minutes of back and forth action between the two teams, Tate Taylor got a “d to d” pass from Roloson, and Taylor walked his way to the far side of the right faceoff circle before he let go a rocket which beat Gundarah to give Surrey their first lead of the night.
In the third period, The Expo Line hit the track. It’s the picture perfect Schwartz Bongo Galata shift, as the three gained the offensive zone with speed. Galata found Schwartz on the far side, who carried it across the line, threw it for Galata at the left hashmarks, and Galata dished it to Jake Bongo, who buried the biscuit for his eleventh goal of the season, and first in four games for The League. It’s the sign of good things happening for the team when The Expo Line is firing on all cylinders, and they certainly were on Sunday night at the South Surrey Arena, as they were buzzing around the offensive zone all night long leading up to the goal, so it was only natural that they’d be rewarded for their hard work throughout the game.
— Surrey Eagles (@SurreyEagles) December 5, 2022
In the last five minutes of the third, Owen Kim got a breakaway against Michael Sochan, only to be hooked down by defenseman Landon Hilditch, drawing the ire of the official, and drawing the greatest play in hockey: The Penalty Shot.
Kim swung wide to start before working his way back towards the slot, attempted to go across Sochan and stuff it between his legs, but Sochan did a great job to seal off the bottom half of the net and prevent the goal from slipping through. Michael Sochan is now one for one facing penalty shots in his BC Hockey League career.
In the late stages, with the Langley net empty, Jacob Bonkowski would collect the puck off a pass from Ethan Riesterer, walk his way into the attacking zone at a one on two disadvantage against the Langley defenders, and one hand the puck into the yawning cage for a four to one Surrey lead, and Bonkowski’s 10th goal of the season.
The Eagles skated to the 4-1 victory on Teddy Bear Toss night, as Michael Sochan stopped 31 of the 32 shots he faced for his 6th win of the season. Surrey is back in action Wednesday night when they travel to the Chilliwack Coliseum to take on the Chiefs, before they head to Poweel