The Chilliwack Progress / Black Press Media

Chiefs vs. Eagles: A rivalry for the ages (1991-2000)

 

(This article was originally published on Oct. 7, 2020.)

I looked at the on and off rivalry of the Langley franchises with the Chilliwack franchises. This time I’m going to look at the heavy, nasty, blood-spilling rivalry between the Surrey Eagles and the Chilliwack Chiefs.

This rivalry is one of the most heated in all of the BC Hockey League. I remember being maybe six or seven years old and my first Chiefs game was back in 1998-99. It was against Surrey at the old Chilliwack Coliseum and the game ended with a line brawl.

Chilliwack and Surrey started the rivalry when the New Westminster Royals moved to Surrey back in 1991-92. There are a lot of similarities to the Chiefs and Eagles. Both teams won their first Fred Page Cup in their fifth year, both have won a national championship, and both have kept their team names their entire franchise history.

The first three seasons they were in the league together, the Chiefs and Eagles played in different divisions. The Eagles were in the Coast and the Chiefs in the Interior and they played each other four times each season. In 1992-93, they split the season series 2-2 and Chilliwack won the first two meetings while Surrey took the second two.

Divisional Rivalry

In 1994-95, Chilliwack moved from the Interior Division to the Mainland Division after the addition of Royal City Outlaws and Langley Thunder. That first year, Chilliwack finished first in the division, ahead of second place Langley and third place Surrey.

The Eagles and Chiefs met in the quarterfinals of the playoffs with Chilliwack winning the series 4-2 en route to its first Fred Page Cup.

In 1995-96, Chilliwack was even better than the year before. Riding a six game winning streak into their first matchup against the Eagles that season, the Chiefs went into Surrey and won 3-2.

The next night at the Coliseum, Chilliwack built a 5-0 lead going into the second period when the Eagles started getting frustrated and two brawls ensued with six players from each team getting sent off. It didn’t help Surrey as the Chiefs put up another five and won 10-0. They played each other a total of 11 times during the regular season. with the Chiefs winning nine of those meetings.

The next season was the complete opposite and Surrey dominated the season series 9-3. The first regular-season game came with another few brawls with a total of 12 players ejected and four suspended. The battles didn’t only happen on the ice, but also in the stands with a security guard being injured after tripping over a barrier while trying to break up an altercation. 

Another brawl happened at the end of the game on January 25th, 1997 as frustrations boiled over and the game ended with the Eagles winning 6-2.

That season saw the teams play in the first round of the 1997 BCHL playoffs. Surrey swept the series but it wasn’t without some feisty affairs, including Cody DeMossiac head butting future NHLer Scott Gomez during game two. Game four was filled with fights as the Chiefs frustration boiled over. Surrey was up 9-0 when Chilliwack scored a shorthanded goal and the Chiefs player got into it with the Eagles goalie. They dropped their gloves and all hell broke loose resulting in both teams being sent to the dressing rooms while referee Lowell Dick figured out all the penalties.

The Chiefs turn the tide

After being dominated by the Eagles for two straight seasons, the Chiefs turned the tides of the rivalry back in their favour.

In 1998-99, the Eagles took the season series 6-5. During one of the games in January 1999, the Chiefs blew out the Eagles 10-3 with newly acquired Wade Dubielewicz in goal, and the game finished with seven majors for each team. Chilliwack also smoked the Eagles in the final game of the season 11-6.

1999 saw Chilliwack and Surrey meet in the playoffs for the second straight year as the Chiefs and Eagles squared off in the Mainland Division final.

Surrey won game one 10-2 and ended up building a 3-1 series lead. Chilliwack started its comeback with a 5-3 win on the road in game five before returning home and pitching a shutout in game six.

Game seven was an epic battle between both teams with lots of room to move on the Olympic-sized ice in Surrey. The game went into overtime where Travis Banga passed to Jeff Yopyk who made a fantastic move to score and win the series for the Chiefs.

In 1999-2000, things were just as heated as they were in previous seasons. The Chiefs were coming off their second trip to the finals and Surrey wanted revenge for the conference final loss.

The very first game of the season the Chiefs stomp the Eagles 10-4. It featured eight fights, 17 majors, and nine misconducts. This rivalry wasn’t going away anytime soon. The Chiefs won the season series 8-3 and each contest was as intense as a playoff series.

However, the two squads didn’t face off in the playoffs that year as the Eagles missed the post-season by two points. Chilliwack went on to win its second Fred Page Cup, which matched the same number Surrey had won to that point.