Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The End of Off The Wahl

It's been a heck of a ride behind the mic, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

After four-and-a-half years, this will be the final posting on Off the Wahl. As of next week, I'll be joining the Kootenay ICE of the WHL as Director of Sales & Public Relations, and stepping away from the play-by-play game.

I spent a good chunk of my childhood in Cranbrook, and remember the excitement in town when it was announced the ICE would be moving to the East Kootenay in 1998. After moving away in 1999, I watched the team win championships at the league and national level and felt incredibly proud to have once called that great community home. Thank you to the ICE for giving me a chance to re-connect and become part of a team that I've held near and dear to me for 15+ years.

Thank you as well to the personalities around the KIJHL and BCHL that have made the last five seasons such an unforgettable experience. I feel really fortunate to have had the opportunities I've had in hockey so far, and I'm grateful for the friends I've made and the great hockey I've had a chance to witness in rinks around this great province.

Part of my mission in creating this blog when I started out with the Castlegar Rebels in 2010 was to inform and (hopefully) entertain. I hope I've accomplished those goals. I'm sure the new voice of the Surrey Eagles will be encouraged to follow suit, and I wish the team the very best as 2014-15 approaches ever faster.

Thank you for reading, and all the best!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Masellis to Langley

According to the Rivermen website, the Eagles this morning traded 17 year-old defenseman Domenic Masellis to Langley for future considerations.

Masellis made 53 appearances in Eagles silks last season, scoring three points (0-3) and compiling 52 minutes in penalties. The Burnaby product also led the Eagles in playoff hits during a physical six-game first-round playoff series with Langley. He, along with Surrey netminder Bo Didur, was a member of the 2013 BC Major Midget League champion Vancouver Northwest Giants.

Masellis' rough-and-tumble style will play well in Langley, who historically have stacked their back end with large, physical specimens, and if Twitter is any indication, the Swift Current Bronco draft pick is looking forward to what lies ahead with Surrey's Mainland rivals:

Thanks, Dom, for all your hard work in Surrey last season and best of luck with Langley!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Eagles Complete Two Trades

News broke this morning of a pair of trades involving the Eagles and two teams in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Surrey has parted ways with last season's leading defensive scorer Matt Dawson and truculent winger Mason Mitchell, acquiring a local goaltender and future considerations in the process.

First the Eagles shipped Dawson, a 34-point man last year in his 17 year-old season, to the Brooks Bandits for 19 year-old goaltender Daniel Urbani and futures. 4 of Dawson's six goals came on the power-play last season; look for those statistics to spike as he enters his 18 year-old year.

In Urbani, Surrey gets a two-year Junior "A" vet who made 13 appearances in the Bandits' goal last season. The Coquitlam native posted a 6-3-2 record with a very respectable 2.40 GAA and .913 SV%. As a 17 year-old with his hometown Express, Urbani picked up two wins (oddly, both against the Trail Smoke Eaters) in 16 appearances behind current Minnesota State Maverick Cole Huggins.

In a separate deal, the Eagles sent overage forward Mason Mitchell to the Calgary Mustangs for future considerations. Mitchell, acquired as future considerations from Nanaimo last month in a deal that sent Luke Sandler to the Island in January, will attend Alaska-Anchorage in the fall of 2015, but returns to his hometown for his final season of junior hockey.

All the best in the future Mason and Matt, and welcome to the Eagles Daniel!

Eagles Commit To Kodiak Forward Unger

The Eagles continue to stock their roster with local players, announcing yesterday the signing of 19 year-old Surrey product Spencer Unger.

Unger, who appeared five times in Surrey silks last season as an AP, is coming off a championship season with the Junior "B" Aldergrove Kodiaks. With Aldergrove, Unger put up 41 points (18-23), adding 7 points in the Kodiaks' run to the final of the Cyclone Taylor Cup in Nelson this past spring.

Unger is an alum of both the Semiahmoo Minor Hockey Association and the Valley West Hawks major midget program, and is expected to bring speed and grit to Surrey's forward ranks this coming season.

A press release issued in a team newsletter Thursday follows:

SURREY - The Surrey Eagles are thrilled to announce the commitment of forward and Surrey native Spencer Unger for the 2014-15 BCHL season. 

Unger, 19, joins the Eagles from the Pacific Junior Hockey League's Aldergrove Kodiaks, with whom he recorded 18 goals and 23 assists, good for 41 points in 39 games. Unger was also a major contributor to the Kodiak's Championship run with adding 7 points in the playoffs. The Kodiaks, down 3-1 to Richmond came storming back to win the series in 7 games. When asked about the experience Unger said, "We managed to win our league and place second in Provincials. Going threw that makes me want to do the same thing here in Surrey, I'll do whatever I can to help this team get as far as we can."

Unger and the Kodiaks went on the Cyclone Cup where they fell victim to Beaver Valley. Unger was the Kodiaks top scorer in the tournament. During the 2013-14, Unger as signed as an affiliated player with the Surrey Eagles where he saw 5 games of action. "Last year helped me get used to the speed and pace of the game at the Jr. A level and will help me in the upcoming season.  I am looking forward to playing a full season with the Eagles and helping the team succeed."

"We are thrilled about Spencer's scoring ability, but more importantly what type of kid he is." said Head Coach Blaine Neufeld. "Watching him develop over this last season and getting to know him as a person through this off season assures me that he will fit well with the culture and vision we have with our team."

Unger, a product of Semiahmoo, also played a year for the Valley West Hawks of the BC Major Midget League and has progressed through ranks. "Spencer developed through the local Minor hockey, through Major Midget, to Junior B and now to us. He is a player that we know a lot about and know he has progressed the right way and is ready for this level."

Spencer eyes are wide open with excitement for the year to come, "My personal expectations this upcoming season are to help contribute offensively the most I can and help make the players around me better.  One of my goals is to contribute on special teams, whether that's penalty kill or power play, I believe those are big contributors to a teams success." 

Spencer and the Eagles have their home opener on September 26th vs the rival Chilliwack Chiefs. Be sure to save the date and Support You Local Wild Life.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

New Eagle Mitchell Firms Up UAA Commitment

One of the future considerations acquired by Surrey this off-season has finalized his commitment to NCAA Division I Alaska-Anchorage.

Mason Mitchell, who joins the Eagles as the final piece of a deal that sent overager Luke Sandler to Nanaimo in January, will join the Seawolves beginning in the fall of 2015. The Calgary product had committed to UAA while a member of the Clippers, however the league announced earlier this week that Mitchell's scholarship will begin in a year's time, as opposed to this autumn.

The truculent Mitchell put up 19 points (9-10) in Clippers silks this past season, finishing up with 103 minutes in penalties, good for fourth in the BCHL. He becomes the third Eagle to secure a commitment to an Alaska-based school, joining Anthony Conti (UAA as well) and fellow Albertan Chase McMurphy (UAF).

Blanchard Defers: According to the BCHL website, fellow newcomer Josh Blanchard, acquired from Penticton this past spring, will begin his scholarship at St. Cloud State beginning in the fall of 2016. Originally, his tenure with the Huskies was set to begin in 2015.

MacDonald To Vernon: The Vipers announced today that former Eagle AP Ayden MacDonald (96) will be a part of their roster come September. MacDonald made 4 appearances in Surrey colors this past season, spending the majority of his campaign with the PJHL's Richmond Sockeyes.