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Surrey Eagles crowned 2023-24 Fred Page Cup champions

Photo credit: Jack Murray

The Surrey Eagles defeated the Penticton Vees 3-1 in Game 6 of the Fred Page Cup Finals on Sunday night to claim their first league championship since 2013.

Eagles goaltender Ajeet Gundarah was the story tonight, stopping 35 of the 36 shots he faced, including a handful of highlight-reel saves as he held the fort despite his team being outshot by 20. The 21-year-old, three-year veteran of the league finishes the playoffs with a .939 save percentage and a 1.97 goals-against average to go along with two shutouts, both coming in the Finals.

“I just went out there and had fun,” said Gundarah on his Finals performance. “At the end of the day, that’s why we play. If you don’t have fun, there’s no point….Being in the league so long, you know how hard it is to get here, let a lone win one round in the playoffs. To go all the way, I probably appreciate it as much as anyone could.”

Caden Cranston scored a power-play goal off a beautiful passing play late in the first period to give the Eagles a 1-0 advantage at intermission. In the second, Liam Tanner buried his fourth of the postseason when he picked up a rebound off of a Sam Elliott breakaway and banked the puck home 3:19 into the second to double the Surrey lead. In the third, Jagjeevan Phangura found himself wide open in the slot and made no mistake, sniping his third of the postseason to make it 3-0 Eagles. Connor MacPherson got Penticton on the board with just over two minutes to play, but it was not enough as the Eagles held on for the win.

“This means so much,” said Eagles captain Ty Brassington. “The guys worked all year for this. Every day in practice, coach preached hard work and determination and it shows. I couldn’t be more proud of these guys.”

At the conclusion of the game, Surrey forward Micah Berger was awarded the Jeff Tambellini Trophy as the postseason’s Most Valuable Player after finishing atop the scoring list with 25 points in 24 games on 11 goals and 14 assists.

“I pride myself on being a good guy in the locker room,” said Berger, who was acquired by the Eagles late in the season. “Off-ice chemistry blends into on-ice chemistry. The leadership group took me in and allowed me to have a voice and be a leader. We have so many great leaders, it’s not just the guys with the letters on their chest.”

Surrey completes a storybook season with a league championship after winning the Ron Boileau Trophy as the BCHL’s top regular-season team. The Eagles also took home five of the league’s individual awards in the regular season with Cranston winning MVP and scoring leader, Gundarah taking home Top Goaltender, Ryden Evers winning Most Sportsmanlike Player and head coach and general manager Cam Keith being named Coach of the Year.

This is the fifth time the Fred Page Cup has been won by Surrey and the first since 2013. The Eagles also become the first team from the Lower Mainland to win since the Coquitlam Express were champions in 2014.

Surrey’s season is not quite over yet as they will faceoff against the Alberta champion Brooks Bandits in a best-of-three series starting May 31 with all games being played in Brooks.