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.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Eagles Name Neufeld Head Coach

The Eagles have made a change behind the bench for the 2014-15 BCHL season, naming the club's director of hockey operations Blaine Neufeld as the team's head coach.

Neufeld, who joined the Eagles as part of this past spring's ownership and management shuffle, was part of the Vancouver Giants' goaltending duo during their 2007 Memorial Cup championship season. His coaching resume includes a stint as the goaltending coach with the MJHL's Winkler Flyers as well as assistant coaching duties at the midget/U18 level in Manitoba and BC.

At just 27 years of age, Neufeld supplants Salmon Arm head coach Brandon West as the youngest current bench boss in the BCHL.

Neufeld replaces Peter Schaefer, who spent the last two seasons behind the Surrey bench, first as an assistant coach during the Eagles' 2013 championship run, then as head coach this past campaign. Last season's Surrey club was eliminated in the first round of the Fred Page Cup playoffs by the top-seeded Langley Rivermen in six games.

Schaefer will remain affiliated with the Eagles in a personal consulting role.

A release issued by the team this afternoon follows:

SURREY - The Surrey Eagles Hockey Club is very excited to announce the hiring of new Head Coach Blaine Neufeld. Neufeld joined the Eagles organization back in April when he assumed the role of Director of Hockey Operations. 

"I am very excited to assume the role as Head Coach, along side the role of Director of Hockey Operations. Over the past few months we set as one of our goals to bring a more community feel to the team and it is exciting to see that being fulfilled." remarked Neufeld.

The Eagles, under the guidance of Neufeld, have committed to four local players, who all played in the Semiahmoo Minor Hockey program. "We believe that the best players are right here in Surrey, Cloverdale and White Rock," Neufeld asserted, "Through healthy relationships and community involvement I believe we can help one another develop players and promote them through the Junior A level and NCAA Division 1 Scholarships, and good citizens."

Neufeld comes to the Eagles organization with coaching experience at the Junior A level in Manitoba, along with working at the Major Midget group in Manitoba and the Hockey Academies here in British Columbia. Neufeld's playing career also has ties to B.C., as a goaltender of the 2007 Memorial Cup Champions Vancouver Giants. He also spent two years with the Medicine Hat Tigers, under the guidance of Willie Desjardins, the current Vancouver Canucks Head Coach.

"Through my playing career I was able to learn from some of the greatest WHL coaches; Don Hay in Vancouver, and Willie in Medicine Hat," Neufeld Mentioned, "Through the role of a goaltender you are allowed to see how the game develops and even during my playing career I always strived to become a coach. I was able to focus on taking as much from those great coaches and plan to apply it here." Neufeld would continue to learn how a winning environment is contagious. "In both cities we had a very successful team. To be able to be in two different championship dressing rooms is very unique and a great opportunity. I know what it takes to win at the Junior level and not it will be my task to implement that with our boys, our goal is to help them become champions on and off the ice." Neufeld emphasized.

The Surrey Eagles are also please to announce that former Head Coach and GM, Peter Schaefer, will contribute to the team in a personal consulting role. "Peter has been great with his ongoing help through our transition here with the Eagles," Neufeld acknowledged, "I am new to the BCHL, and Peter has been extremely helpful with advice as situations arise."

The Surrey Eagles, under the guidance of Blaine Neufeld, will open their pre-season on September 5th at Prospera Center in Chilliwack and then at North Surrey Arena on Saturday, September 6th at 7:00pm. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Eagles 2014-15 Schedule Released

The BCHL released the full 2014-15 regular-season schedule Friday morning as the Eagles continue preparations for their 24th season in Surrey. Like last year, the Birds will play a 58-game regular-season campaign (28 home, 28 away, 2 showcase) beginning with the 3rd BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack September 19th-21st.

9 of Surrey's 28 home dates fall on Sundays or holiday Mondays, with all other home games evidently set for new, 7:11pm puck drops at South Surrey Arena. The Eagles' home schedule begins Friday, September 26th with the first half of a home-and-home set with the Chilliwack Chiefs.

Expect the team to announce more information on game-night events and promotions in advance of training camp, which by league mandate begins August 29th.

The full 2014-15 Surrey Eagles regular-season schedule follows (home games in CAPS):

19 - vs. Penticton Vees, 7:30 pm (BCHL Showcase at Chilliwack)
21 - vs. Salmon Arm SilverBacks, 5:30 pm (BCHL Showcase at Chilliwack)
26 - vs. CHILLIWACK CHIEFS, 7:11 pm
27 - at Chilliwack Chiefs, 7:00

03 - vs. NANAIMO CLIPPERS, 7:11 pm
05 - vs. LANGLEY RIVERMEN, 4:00 pm
08 - vs. SALMON ARM SILVERBACKS, 7:11 pm
12 - vs. TRAIL SMOKE EATERS, 4:00 pm
15 - at Langley Rivermen, 7:00 pm
19 - vs. COQUITLAM EXPRESS, 4:00 pm
24 - vs. COQUITLAM EXPRESS, 7:11 pm
25 - at Victoria Grizzlies, 7:00 pm
26 - at Nanaimo Clippers, 2:00 pm
29 - at Penticton Vees, 7:00 pm
31 - vs. PENTICTON VEES, 7:11 pm

07 - at Coquitlam Express, 7:00 pm
08 - vs. COQUITLAM EXPRESS, 7:11 pm
10 - vs. LANGLEY RIVERMEN, 2:00 pm
14 - at Prince George Spruce Kings, 7:00 pm
15 - at Prince George Spruce Kings, 7:00 pm
21 - at Langley Rivermen, 7:00 pm
26 - vs. LANGLEY RIVERMEN, 7:11 pm
28 - vs. CHILLIWACK CHIEFS, 7:11 pm
29 - at Chilliwack Chiefs, 7:00 pm

03 - at Coquitlam Express, 7:00 pm
05 - vs. POWELL RIVER KINGS, 7:00 pm
09 - at Langley Rivermen, 7:00 pm
13 - at Langley Rivermen, 7:00 pm
14 - vs. LANGLEY RIVERMEN, 4:00 pm
17 - at Vernon Vipers, 7:00 pm
21 - vs. VICTORIA GRIZZLIES, 4:00 pm
28 - at Chilliwack Chiefs, 5:00 pm
30 - vs. CHILLIWACK CHIEFS, 7:11 pm

02 - at Alberni Valley Bulldogs, 7:00 pm
03 - at Cowichan Valley Capitals, 7:00 pm
04 - at Powell River Kings, 1:30 pm
09 - vs. MERRITT CENTENNIALS, 7:11 pm
11 - vs. VERNON VIPERS, 4:00 pm
16 - vs. LANGLEY RIVERMEN, 7:11 pm
17 - at Chilliwack Chiefs, 7:00 pm
22 - at Prince George Spruce Kings, 7:00 pm
23 - at Prince George Spruce Kings, 7:00 pm
25 - vs. WEST KELOWNA WARRIORS, 4:00 pm
30 - at Coquitlam Express, 7:00 pm

07 - at Trail Smoke Eaters, 7:30 pm
08 - at Salmon Arm SilverBacks, 3:00 pm
09 - vs. COQUITLAM EXPRESS, 2:00 pm
13 - vs. CHILLIWACK CHIEFS, 7:11 pm
14 - at Chilliwack Chiefs, 7:00 pm
18 - at Coquitlam Express, 7:00 pm
25 - at Merritt Centennials, 7:00 pm
28 - at West Kelowna Warriors, 7:00 pm

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pair Of Eagles Alumni Drafted

Saturday was a great day for a pair of former Surrey Eagles stalwarts, as both Devon Toews and Danton Heinen were selected in the fourth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia.

Toews, who just completed his freshman season at Quinnipiac University after helping lead the Eagles to the semi-final of the RBC Cup in 2013, was taken 108th overall by the New York Islanders. In 37 games played with the Bobcats, the Abbotsford native tallied 1 goal and 17 points. Toews, never afraid to jump in offensively during his time in the BCHL, put up 97 points in 131 regular-season and playoff appearances in Eagles silks. His list of Junior "A" accolades is just as fruitful, including honours as the BCHL Coastal Conference and RBC Cup Top Defenseman in 2013.

The Eagles' outgoing captain, Danton Heinen, was selected 8 picks after Toews, as the Boston Bruins nabbed the reigning BCHL Rookie of the Year and Most Sportsmanlike Player 116th overall. The Langley product, who joined Surrey after a Keystone Cup triumph with the Junior "B" Richmond Sockeyes in 2013, led the Eagles in scoring with 61 points, all while putting up just 8 minutes in penalties. Heinen was an unstoppable force during the second half of the 2013-14 BCHL season, and will be taking his talents to the University of Denver this fall.

It should come as no surprise that the Bruins took notice of Heinen's breakout season: Boston's assistant general manager, Scott Bradley, is the uncle of Eagles assistant coach Brad Tobin. Not only that, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli is part of the ownership group of the USHL's Dubuque Fighting Saints, with whom current University of Denver bench boss Jim Montgomery used to coach.

Congratulations to both Devon and Danton on what must have been an exhilarating day, and all the best in the future!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fordy Commits To Eagles; Showcase Schedule Announced

The Eagles announced yesterday the signing of a fourth local player for the 2014-15 season, as forward Liam Fordy (96) committed to join Surrey this winter.

The sizeable youngster joins the Eagles from the Delta Ice Hawks, with whom he played less than half of last season due to injury. Fordy attended the Eagles recent spring camp and was a part of the Earl Marriott Secondary Academy program that enjoys practice time at the South Surrey Arena during the season.

A press release issued by the team follows:

SURREY – The Surrey Eagles Hockey Club are pleased to announce the commitment of forward and Surrey native Liam Fordy for the 2014-15 BCHL season.

Fordy, 17, joins the Eagles from the Pacific Junior Hockey League’s Delta Ice Hawks, with whom he recorded 1 goal and 5 assists in an injured shorten season. The year prior, Fordy spend time with the Valley West Hawks, Grandview Steelers and Semi Midget A1 Ravens. Liam, the son of Chief Superintendent of the RCMP Bill Fordy, comes to the Eagles at 6’1”, 205 lbs. 

“It means a lot to become a Surrey Eagle.” The 1996 Born player said, “It is pretty special to think about how my family and friends will be able to see me compete every single night.”

Fordy, another Earl Marriott Hockey Academy product, could only thank the Academy for helping him get where he is today. “EMS was amazing for me. I have held my share of injuries, so I couldn’t play much, but at the Academy I was able to work on my skills, and gain the extra time needed In the gym to stay where I needed to be.”

Local RCMP Superintendent Bill Fordy admires how the Eagles have stayed true to their word on going with local players. “I think it is a tremendous honour for any young man to play for the Surrey Eagles. I am very proud of Liam and feel very fortunate that I will be able to watch him play in his hometown, with family and friends. I also think that it is fantastic that the club is supporting local kids and giving them the opportunity to pursue their dreams. I am excited about the season and look forward to seeing familiar faces in the arena.”

Liam and the Eagles have their home opener on September 26th to save the date and Support Local Wild Life.

Welcome, Liam, to the Eagles family!

Showcase Schedule Revealed: For the third consecutive year, the BCHL will kick off its season with a weekend showcase at Chilliwack's Prospera Centre. The 2014 Bauer BCHL Showcase will take place September 19th to 21st, with each of the league's 16 teams playing two games that count in the final regular-season standings. For the second straight year, Surrey will face a pair of Interior division opponents:

Friday, September 19: vs. PENTICTON VEES, 7:30 pm (Main rink)
Sunday, September 21: vs. SALMON ARM SILVERBACKS, 5:30 pm (Secondary rink)

The full BCHL schedule should be released soon, with the traditional regular-season schedule set to get underway on Friday, September 26th.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Eagles Re-Acquire Hannoun, Add Butcher

The Eagles and Vernon Vipers announced this week the future considerations owing from a deal involving former Surrey captain Brett Mulcahy just prior to the January 10th deadline, with the Eagles acquiring two offensive catalysts in Demico Hannoun and Ben Butcher from the 2014 RBC Cup hosts.

Hannoun's CJHL rights revert to Surrey after one season in the North Okanagan. The North Delta product was a key member of the Eagles' run to the 2013 RBC Cup semi-final. Hannoun put up 44 points in Vernon last year, finishing fifth in team scoring, and in three seasons in the BCHL has tallied 103 total points. The guy can score: my first memory of Hannoun was a first-period hat-trick he scored at South Surrey Arena against my former club, Trail, back in January of 2012.

Butcher, from Bellingham, spent last season in Chilliwack, where he tallied 31 points (13-18) with the re-building Chiefs. The son of former Canuck Garth Butcher, Ben should fit nicely into Surrey's top six as a power forward. The 19 year-old has put up a total of 49 points in 111 career BCHL regular-season games with the Chiefs and Rivermen.

Welcome back Demico, and welcome to the Eagles Ben!

To complete the deal, Surrey did send goaltender Devon Fordyce to the Vipers. I'm sure "Fordy" will do well with a fresh start in Vernon; he's a first-class young man and a hard worker to boot. Good luck with the Snakes!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Catching Up: Eagles Commit To Local Pair

The Eagles continue to add new, local pieces to their 2014-15 lineup and over the past week, have announced the signing of a pair of forwards who spent last season as part of the club's affiliate crop.

18 year-old Quinn Lenihan joins the club from the PJHL's Grandview Steelers, with whom he spent the last two seasons, capping off a Junior "B" career with a 14-goal output in 2013-14. Lenihan opened his BCHL account back on January 10th with a goal against the Spruce Kings in Prince George; his 6'3" frame provides an injection of size into Surrey's forward ranks too.

19 year-old Sam Chatterley returns to the Nest, but in a full-time role next season after 12 regular-season and playoff appearances as an AP in 2013-14. Chatterley spent most of last season with the PJHL's Delta Ice Hawks, and will bring a hard-hitting, energetic style of play to the South Surrey Arena next year.

With the club's renewed philosophy on developing and celebrating local talent, it's no surprise to see Lenihan and Chatterley, who both put in workmanlike efforts during their call-ups last year, given a shot this coming season. And with the departures of top-six pieces like last year's captain Danton Heinen, the Renouf twins and Braedan Russell, the opportunity certainly exists for the new recruits to earn plenty of ice-time, and responsibility, up front.

The full releases from the team follow:

SURREY – The Surrey Eagles Hockey Club are pleased to announce the commitment of forward and Surrey native Quinn Lenihan for the 2014-15 BCHL season.

Lenihan, 17, joins the Eagles from the Pacific Junior Hockey League’s Grandview Steelers, with whom he recorded 14 goals and 28 points in 44 games played during the 2013-14 season, finishing fourth in team scoring. Lenihan also tied for the team lead in power-play markers with 8. In two campaigns with the Steelers, the 6’4”, 210-pound forward totalled 41 points and 44 minutes in penalties from 77 games played.

Lenihan was signed by the Eagles as an affiliate player during the 2013-14 season, appearing in 4 regular-season and 5 playoff games. He scored his first BCHL goal January 10th “It was always a big goal of mine to play with the Surrey Eagles, as a local kid, so this is very exciting.” 
Said Lenihan. “When we were playing in Semi the Eagles were the guys we look up to and now getting to be one of those guys is a big responsibility and I will take a lot of pride in it.”

Lenihan, a Semiahmoo product, is a player than went through the local Minor Hockey Development at Semiahmoo and also attended the Earl Marriott Hockey Academy and is now going to be suiting up for his local Junior A team.
“Quinn is a local player that we have big hopes for this coming season.” Said the Director of Hockey Operations, Blaine Neufeld, “He is a big skilled player, but I believe his most effective aspect of his game is his awareness. He will be able to fit in and contribute right away with our group.” 

Further player announcements will be made in the coming weeks. Welcome, Quinn, to the Eagles family!

SURREY - The Surrey Eagles Hockey Club are pleased to announce the commitment of forward and White Rock native Sam Chatterley to the 2014/15 BCHL Season.

Chatterley was signed by the Eagles as an affiliate player during the 2013/14 season, appearing in 8 regular-season and 4 playoff games. His intensity and never stop attitude was electric at the South Surrey Arena.

"Becoming an Eagle is an honour and I am very excited about the opportunity," said Chatterley. "Growing up in White Rock/Surrey I have always wanted to play for the Eagles and I cannot wait to feel the continued support from family and friends at the South Surrey Arena."

When asked what type of player he is, Sam responded, "I feel that I have a lot to offer our team. I don't shy away from the tough areas on the ice and my focus is to give it my all night in and night out."

Chatterley, a Semiahmoo product, is a player who went through the local minor hockey development at Semiahmoo before suiting up for the Valley West Hawks, of the Major Midget League, for two seasons and played last season with the Delta Ice Hawks.  

"Sam is a mature player. Coming in as a 19 year old allows us to look to him to be consistent in his efforts night in and night out," said the Director of Hockey Operations, Blaine Neufeld. "He plays on the edge and I would imagine the local players will feed off his energy and passion. Sam will be a fun player to watch and lines up with our local player model towards building a community team."

The Surrey Eagles continue to grow with local players, be sure to come out and support your local boys!

Welcome, Sam, to the Eagles Family!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Vikich Commits To Eagles, Sandler to Detroit Camp

The Eagles announced Thursday that local product Ben Vikich has committed to the team for 2014-15. Vikich (94) comes back to Surrey after beginning last season with the Eagles before spending the majority of the year in Portland, Maine with the Junior Pirates of the USPHL.

Vikich was one of Surrey's "black aces" in their run to the 2013 RBC Cup semi-final, and in chatting with him briefly earlier this week, is extremely excited to again be donning Eagles silks this coming winter.

Welcome home Ben! The full press release from the team follows:

SURREY – The Surrey Eagles Hockey Club are pleased to announce the commitment of forward, and Semiahmoo Minor Hockey Association alumnus Ben Vikich for the 2014-15 BCHL season. 

Vikich, 20, spent the majority of the 2013-14 season with the USPHL’s Portland Pirates after beginning the year in Surrey. In 26 games with the Maine club last season, Vikich recorded seven points from four goals and three assists, adding 36 minutes in penalties. 

Vikich set career highs in goals (13) and points (35) during the 2012-13 season with the PJHL’s North Delta Devils. He then joined the Eagles for their 2013 RBC Cup run. 

“I’m excited to come back to Surrey for my 20 year-old season,” said Vikich. “as a kid I regularly attended Surrey Eagles games hoping to one day represent my home-town team.” 

“We’re very excited to include Ben in our group this coming year,” said Blaine Neufeld, the Eagles’ Director of Hockey Operations, “he’s a player that we can trust in all three zones of the ice and will lead by example.” 

“Ben’s character will enable him to be a real influence on our younger players on and off the ice. He’s a born leader and we love that aspect about him as well,” Neufeld added. 

Further player announcements will be made in the coming weeks. 

Welcome, Ben, to the Eagles family!

Sandler To Attend Wings Camp: The BCHL announced yesterday former Eagle Luke Sandler will attend the Detroit Red Wings development camp this summer. Sandler played out his junior eligibility with Nanaimo this past spring after a trade from Surrey at the January 10th deadline, totalling 18 points and 90 penalty minutes in 30 games with the Clippers and Eagles. Luke and I spent the 2012-13 season together in Trail before our short stint together in South Surrey, and while I'm not entirely sure how quickly the lifelong Blackhawks fan will adapt to wearing Detroit colours, I hope he has a great camp. Good luck Sandy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Heinen To Begin NCAA Journey Early

The Eagles announced this afternoon captain Danton Heinen, who committed to the University of Denver in March, will attend the NCAA Division I school beginning this fall. Surrey's 2013-14 scoring leader, fresh off a sensational freshman campaign in the BCHL that saw him win league Rookie of the Year and Most Sportsmanlike Players honours, had an option to defer his scholarship to 2015-16, but elected to join the Pioneers this fall and kickstart the next phase of his promising career.

As good as Danton Heinen was on the ice this past season for Surrey, he was just as professional, if not more so, off it. And while I'm sure Eagles fans would have loved to see him in Surrey silks for another season (or two!), it's certainly a feather in the club's cap to be able to celebrate him as a perfect example of "Smart Hockey."

The full release from the Eagles is available here.

In the absence of recording technology, a transcript of my conversation with Heinen from this past Friday follows:

What influenced your decision to leave for Denver this year as opposed to next?
I originally had the option to leave this fall or next. It was a very difficult decision to leave the Eagles and I had a lot of fun playing close to home, but everything I’ve heard about Denver is that they’ll have a pretty competitive team next season and I want to be a part of it.

What factors helped you make your decision to commit to the Pioneers in March?
I went down there on a visit at the end of the season and I knew right away it was somewhere I wanted to be. I had a real comfort level with the campus and the people there are great.

What are your plans for the summer?
Right now, I’m training locally, but I’ll leave for Denver in mid-June. I’m planning on taking courses for about a month and a half to help me settle in. It’ll be a good adjustment since I’ve been away from school for a year now.

Are you a bit nervous to be living away from home for the first time?
For sure, but I think it’s probably natural to be a bit nervous to move away for the first time. It’s a new adventure for me, though, and I’m excited for it.

What will you take from your time with the Eagles and in the BCHL?
I really enjoyed my time in Surrey and it was a lot of fun to be able to play close to home. I can’t say enough about my coaches and teammates last season, I’ll definitely miss them and again, it’s a very tough decision on my part to leave early.

Are you a bit surprised at how quickly things have happened for you over the past year?
For sure, you never really expect things to happen as quickly as they have for me. But I got a great opportunity last summer to come to Surrey and play for the Eagles, and I am really thankful for it.
All the best in the Mile High City "Heinz," we'll be watching!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Heinen Nominated for CJHL Rookie of the Year

More accolades yesterday for the Eagles captain, Danton Heinen, as the Canadian Junior Hockey League announced the 18 year-old Langley product is one of five nominees for the CJHL Rookie of the Year award.

Heinen, the BCHL Rookie of the Year and Most Sportsmanlike Player, finished with 62 points during the regular season and was Surrey's co-leader in playoff scoring with 7 points from six games.

Heinen is up for the award against Neil Doef (Smiths Falls, CCHL), Chris Gerrie (Olds, AJHL), Ryland Pashovitz (Humboldt, SJHL) and Jake Walman (Toronto Canadians, OJHL).

The full release from the CJHL is available here. The winner will be announced next week.

A brief news release from the team follows:

The Surrey Eagles congratulate captain and leading scorer Danton Heinen on being named as one of five nominees for Canadian Junior Hockey League Rookie of the Year.

Heinen, from Langley, led all BCHL rookies in scoring during the 2013-14 season with 62 points (29-33), and was named Eagles captain in mid-January, The 18 year-old University of Denver commit appeared in all but one of Surrey's 58 regular-season games, compiling only 8 minutes in penalties.

Heinen was awarded the Bruce Allison Memorial Trophy for BCHL Rookie of the Year, and the Bob Fenton Trophy, which is awarded to the league's Most Sportsmanlike Player, in March.

The CJHL, which comprises the 10 Junior "A" leagues in Canada including the BCHL, will announce the winner during the week of May 5th.

Surrey Eagles season-ticket packages are now available. Visit for details on our new pricing structure for 2014-15 or call (604) 531-GOAL (4625) for more information.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Eagles Unveil New Ownership/Management Structure

The Surrey Eagles announced this morning a change in organizational structure that sees former majority owner Chuck Westgard take 100% possession of the club. Westgard has bought out his partners and in doing so, has enlisted the services of a sports management company to oversee the day-to-day operations of the club going forward.

A renewed commitment to community engagement and local recruiting is also part of the club's vision going forward, and personally, I think it's the right move. A resonating commentary from fans in each of my stops in the BCHL has been one of nurturing, developing and showcasing local talent, and the Eagles are re-affirming their commitment both to that, and to increasing their presence and involvement in our community.

As an organization, I think there's a lot of excitement about the possibilities that lay ahead with the Eagles, and with the 2014-15 slowly inching its way forward, time is definitely of the essence.

The full release from the team follows:

SURREY – The Surrey Eagles Hockey Club are ushering in a new era with a revitalized ownership and management structure.

Eagles owner Chuck Westgard has bought out his partners to gain 100 percent control of the team. In addition, Westgard has enlisted the services of a sports management company to carry out the day-to-day operations of the club going forward.

“Our vision is for the Surrey Eagles to be champions on the ice as well as champions in the community,” Westgard stated, “and it’s clear that change needed to come to our organization.”

“Our plan going forward is for the Eagles to place renewed emphasis on community engagement and involvement, and that focus on the community will stretch to our roster too,” Westgard added. “We want our club to feature life-long Eagles supporters, which is why we plan on building our roster with the very best LOCAL talent our region has to offer.”

This change will ensure the Surrey Eagles will remain a viable, integral part of the community as they prepare for their 24th season in the BCHL. More information on the team’s organizational structure going forward will be made public in the coming weeks.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Eagles Acquire Blanchard From Vees


Step one of the Surrey Eagles' off-season transition was finalized Friday, as the team announced the acquisition of forward Josh Blanchard (96) from Penticton. The move finalizes the trade made in January involving Nic Pierog and Anthony Conti, as Blanchard now joins the Eagles a year ahead of his pending commitment to NCAA Division I St. Cloud State.

Blanchard, from Kelowna, put up 7 points in only 28 games played with the Vees in 2013-14 as he missed some time with injury, but comes to the Lower Mainland as a speedy, skilled addition to Surrey's roster. He scored 29 times two seasons ago with the major midget Okanagan Rockets in their trip to the BCMML final, and put up his first BCHL goal in that season's playoffs as an AP call-up to the Vees.

Welcome to the Eagles Josh!

The full release from the Eagles follows:

The Surrey Eagles are pleased to announce the acquisition of forward Josh Blanchard (96) from the Penticton Vees.

Blanchard is the player named as future considerations from a January 4th transaction that saw Surrey acquire forward Anthony Conti (95) from the Vees in exchange for forward Nicolas Pierog (93).

Blanchard, a native of Kelowna, recently completed his rookie BCHL season with Penticton. In 28 games played, the 17 year-old amassed 3 goals and 7 points. During the 2012-13 season, the 5’8” forward scored 29 goals and 55 points with the major midget Okanagan Rockets, the BCMML finalists in 2013.

Blanchard is committed to NCAA Division I St. Cloud State for the 2015-16 season.

“We’re excited to add another skilled forward in Josh Blanchard to our program,” stated Eagles head coach/general manager Peter Schaefer. “He comes here having already attracted the attention of a top NCAA program, and we’re certainly counting on him to figure prominently in our squad next winter.”

The Eagles would like to extend a warm welcome to Josh Blanchard as he becomes the most recent addition to the organization.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rivermen 6 Eagles 1

Three power-play goals, and a four-point night from veteran Tyson Witala helped the Langley Rivermen eliminate the Eagles with a 6-1 victory at South Surrey Arena Tuesday.

The Rivermen fired 45 shots at Surrey netminder Bo Didur en route to a six-game series win.

Langley opened the scoring on an Evan Anderson wrist shot 6 and a half minutes in, then nearly took a 2-0 lead when Witala attemped a wrap-around only to be thwarted by Didur at his left post four minutes later. The Rivermen came close yet again later in the frame, having a goal disallowed after the puck wildly caromed off a high stick in the slot.

The Eagles were frustrated by Langley's defense Tuesday, finding themselves parried by a slough of blocked shots, eleven of which came in the first period.

Langley's special teams took over in the second, the first of their three power-play markers coming on a point blast from Victor Dombrovskiy just shy of the midway mark.

Witala added a third Rivermen goal on a rebound in front of Didur 1:59 before the break, then potted a second 39 seconds into the third period to give Langley a 4-0 lead.

Langley native Danton Heinen got the Eagles on the board at the four-minute mark of the third, firing home a centring pass from Anthony Conti from the bottom of the left circle.

But the determined Rivermen kept coming, and kept scoring, adding a fifth on a right-wing snapper from Austin Azurdia before Darien Craighead rounded out the scoring, banging home a loose puck from the slot 3:46 from time.

Didur made 39 saves in goal for Surrey, many bordering on the unmathematical. Brock Crossthwaite stopped 25 shots in the Langley net.

Langley will face the Coquitlam Express in the Mainland division final.

My Three Stars:
1. Tyson Witala, Langley
2. Jakob Reichert, Langley
3. Brock Crossthwaite, Langley

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

GAMEDAY: Eagles vs. Rivermen

Mainland Division Semi-Final, Game 6
Who: Surrey Eagles vs. Langley Rivermen
When: March 11, 7:00 pm
Where: South Surrey Arena

Pay-Per-View: FAST Hockey
Radio: Ustream

For the first time in this Mainland Division semi-final, a team faces elimination as the Eagles host Langley in Game Six tonight at South Surrey Arena. A 3-0 victory for the Rivermen Monday gave them a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven series; another win tonight would end Surrey's season and put Langley through to the second round of the BCHL playoffs.

Brock Crossthwaite was the man of the hour Monday, stopping 36 Eagles shots to record the shutout, while shifty forward Austin Azurdia scored the deciding goals in a span of 1:37 halfway through the game. Like champion prize-fighters, these sides continue to attack at one another blow for blow, and tonight, on home ice, Surrey gets a chance to strike even again.

As they celebrate their 20th birthdays, watch for Jonah and Nathan Renouf to dig deeper this evening. The pair have been held goal-less since the first period of Game 3, though both have enjoyed chances from close range when not battling the checks of Langley's top line of Mitch McLain, Jakob Reichert and Matt Ustaski. Winger Joe Drapluk may have been Surrey's best forward in Game Five, throwing his body hap-hazardly in front of shots, creating turnovers, and nearly putting the Eagles on the board on a third period breakaway.

Both teams made few mistakes Monday, and as the stakes intensify, watch for that to continue. The Eagles have been able to open up the pace of play on home ice in the series as well, and in Game Four, it paid massive dividends.

It's a must-win game for Surrey, and it's one you won't want to miss.

Last Meeting: A two-minute spell midway through last night's second period broke Game Five open, with Azurdia scoring his first goals of the series. Including the regular season, last night's game also marked the first time either team has been shut out in the 13 meetings in 2013-14.

Our Opponent: Langley's net-crashing style of offense paid off Monday, with the Rivermen not shy at all about entering Eagles goaltender Bo Didur's crease on the rush. Bobby Henderson's second line captured lightning in a bottle Monday, with Azurdia easily the most dynamic forward among his group on the ice at both ends of the rink, while linemate James Robinson was also dangerous in the offensive zone. Game Five was the first in the series in which 6'6" centreman Matt Ustaski did not record a point; he leads all scorers in the best-of-seven with six goals and nine points.

Rivermen 3 Eagles 0

Austin Azurdia scored twice, including the game-winner 8:09 into the second period, and Brock Crossthwaite made 36 saves as the Langley Rivermen shut out the Eagles 3-0 in Game 5 of their Mainland Division semi-final.

With the win, Langley now enjoys a 3-2 series lead with the Eagles now facing elimination in Tuesday's Game 6.

Monday's game was calculated, even, and conservative as both sides were reluctant to make mistakes in their own zone. A tense first period ended scoreless with both Crossthwaite and Bo Didur making difficult stops, in particular the Surrey netminder off hard drives to the goalmouth.

Langley found their breakthrough just past the 8-minute mark of the second. Forward James Robinson, while driving behind the net, knocked the stick out of Didur's hands, and on the ensuing wrap-around found Azurdia alone just outside the crease for his first goal of the playoffs.

Azurdia added a second 1:37 later when, on a rush down the left-wing side, his shot toward Didur's goal caromed in off an Eagles skater.

Surrey fired anything and everything at Crossthwaite's net the other way, including on a five-minute power-play late in period two after Langley captain Mitch McLain was ejected for a goaltender interference penalty. The Rivermen netminder stood tall throughout Monday's game, though, including a 15-save performance in the third period.

Surrey continued to press as time wound down, coming closest when Danton Heinen struck the left post with a wrist-shot with about six minutes to play. Head coach Peter Schaefer then pulled Didur with more than three minutes remaining, but the move proved costly when Langley defenseman Tanner Johnson found the empty net with 2:12 left.

Didur stopped 36 Rivermen shots and was terrific in goal for Surrey, making a number of quick-reacting pad saves off chances from all areas of the Eagles' defensive zone.

Surrey went 0/4 on the power-play, while Langley failed to capitalize on three man-advantage opportunities.

My Three Stars:
1. Brock Crossthwaite, Langley
2. Kale Bennett, Surrey
3. Austin Azurdia, Langley

Up Next: The Eagles face a must-win Game Six at home Tuesday. Game time is 7:00 at South Surrey Arena.

Monday, March 10, 2014

GAMEDAY: Eagles @ Rivermen

Mainland Division Semi-Final, Game 5

Who: Surrey Eagles @ Langley Rivermen
When: March 10, 7:15 pm
Where: Langley Events Centre

Pay-Per-View: FAST Hockey
Radio: Ustream

After a rest day, the Eagles return to the Langley Events Centre for a tie-breaking Game Five in what has, to this point, been an enthralling Mainland Division semi-final. Surrey took Game Four Saturday night in a 7-5 barnburner that featured a hat-trick and five-point effort from rookie blueliner Phil Johansson and a 39-save effort in goal from fellow freshman Bo Didur.

As expected, the two games on the larger South Surrey Arena ice surface featured no shortage of offense, and tonight, the dynamic could well change back to what we witnessed in the first two games of the series. The Eagles asserted themselves well in a difficult building to find points in the first two contests, and will need another committed effort tonight if they are to gain their first lead in the best-of-seven series.

After being shut down in Game 3, Danton Heinen enjoyed his most prolific playoff game Saturday, putting up four assists. Heinen, along with Anthony Conti and Chase McMurphy, are co-leaders in Surrey's playoff scoring race with six points each.

The Eagles' power-play has gotten plenty of work, and has cashed in too, clicking at an 8/27 rate through the series. Surrey can't count on getting nine power-plays again in Game Five, however.

Last Meeting: Six of Surrey's seven goals Saturday, and seven of the last eight overall have been scored by defensemen. Game Four was also the first of Surrey's three home-ice wins over Langley this season not to be decided in overtime.

Our Opponent: The Rivermen will be happy to be home at the Langley Events Centre for one last time in this series (a Game 7 would take place at George Preston Recreation Centre). Langley conceded a series-high nine power-plays Saturday, and hold the high-water mark among BCHL playoff teams in terms of times short-handed. Watch for the Rivermen's top line of Matt Ustaski, Jakob Reichert and Mitch McLain to match up against the Renouf twins and Anthony Conti again this evening, though Langley coach Bobby Henderson did mix up his forward units in the late-going of Saturday's Game Four. Ustaski leads all scorers in the series with six goals and nine points.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Eagles 7 Rivermen 5

Philippe Johansson picked the perfect night to find his offensive spark.

The rugged rearguard scored his first goals since his Eagles debut, putting up a hat-trick and a five-point night as Surrey knocked off the Langley Rivermen 7-5 Saturday, evening their best-of-seven Mainland division semi-final at two games apiece.

Surrey scored four power-play goals, and six of the Eagles' seven tallies came from defensemen in the most offensively potent of the four games in the first-round series so far.

Surrey started early, with Johansson snapping home a point shot inside four minutes before Chase McMurphy banged home a loose puck at the side of Brock Crossthwaite's net to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead before the ten-minute mark. Neither side could capitalize on four first-period power-plays as the Eagles went into the intermission ahead by two.

Surrey wasted no time in adding to their lead, with defenseman Kale Bennett hammering home a five-on-three point blast 2:30 into the second to make it 3-0, chasing Crossthwaite in the process, seconds after he'd inadvertently put his side down two men by flipping the puck over the glass in his right-wing corner.

Matt Dawson gobbled up a rebound and beat replacement netminder Lyndon Stanwood 50 seconds later, putting a loose puck past the 20 year-old goaltender after forward (and birthday boy) Joe Drapluk drove the net from the right side.

Langley opened their accounts midway through the middle frame through former Eagle Kevan Kilistoff, but Johansson quickly replied with his second goal of the game as the two sides continued to trade goals as though they were going out of style.

Langley would add two more tallies before the intermission to slim Surrey's lead to 5-3: first, Jakob Reichert tucked in his own rebound, before linemate Matt Ustaski scored his series-leading sixth goal of the playoffs 4:30 from the break.

Johansson completed his hat-trick on an early third-period power-play, accepting a pass from Bennett and beating Crossthwaite (who had replaced Stanwood again late in the second period) from the left point. Bennett would add his second of the game on a one-timer to increase Surrey's lead to 7-3 before Mitch McLain and Chris Forney rounded out the night's offense with a pair of late goals for Langley.

Bo Didur stopped 39 of 44 shots in goal for the Eagles, who went 4/9 on the power-play Saturday. Didur stopped his second penalty shot in as many games too, thwarting Tyson Witala in the second period. Drapluk and captain Danton Heinen each had four assists in the game for Surrey.

My Three Stars:
1. Philippe Johansson, Surrey
2. Joe Drapluk, Surrey
3. Darien Craighead, Langley

Up Next: Game Five goes Monday night at the Langley Events Centre, with the now-necessary Game Six set for Tuesday evening at South Surrey Arena.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

GAMEDAY: Eagles vs. Rivermen

Mainland Division Semi-Final, Game 4

Who: Surrey Eagles vs. Langley Rivermen
When: March 8, 7:00 pm
Where: South Surrey Arena

Pay-Per-View: FAST Hockey
Radio: Ustream

A truculent Game 3 makes way for a pivotal Game 4 tonight as the Eagles look to even their Mainland division semi-final against Langley on home ice. Langley took Friday's game by a 6-3 final score thanks to two more goals from sizeable centreman Matt Ustaski, and tempers reached a boiling point late in the third period after an incident in front of, and in, the Langley bench.

Tonight, watch for Surrey to bear down on their chances in front of Langley netminder Brock Crossthwaite. A frantic second-period Friday led to tremendous opportunities at both ends of the ice, but it was the Rivermen who gained the upper hand after scoring twice late in the middle frame. Surrey was outshot for the first time in the series Friday as well.

Anthony Conti continues his strong playoff, registering an assist to up his team-leading point total to five after a nifty set-up on Nathan Renouf's opener. Blueliner Matt Dawson led all Surrey scorers Friday with three points, and became the first Eagles defenseman to find the back of the net in the series.

Surrey will also look to match Langley's physicality in Game 4. 16 year-old defenseman Domenic Masellis laid out some massive checks Friday, though it was fellow 16 year-old Marcus Vela's hit on the Burnaby product that sparked the late malfaisance last night.

Last Meeting: Langley's six consecutive goals gave them the upper hand on the scoresheet, and in the series with Friday's 6-3 win. Oddly enough, the team scoring the first goal has lost each of the previous three games in this series.

Our Opponent: Langley put together their most complete performance of the series Friday, and Bobby Henderson's club will be feeling good about their ability to regain momentum after the win. The foremost performer in the series thus far has been Ustaski, who with five goals has been Langley's go-to offensive player both on the power-play, and at even strength. Langley played a more up-tempo style of game Friday than what we saw at the Langley Events Centre earlier in the week, and it paid off offensively with the team's forwards able to navigate through the neutral zone with pace. Crossthwaite was strong in goal, and despite making only four saves in the second period made the stop of the series thus far off Nathan Renouf on the doorstep.

Rivermen 6 Eagles 3

Six unanswered goals helped the Langley Rivermen re-claim a series lead as they doubled the Surrey Eagles 6-3 Friday at South Surrey Arena.

Matt Ustaski scored twice, including the eventual game-winning goal early in the third period, and tempers flared toward the end of regulation time as the heated rivalry between Surrey and Langley hit a new boiling point.

The Eagles shot out of the gate Friday, outshooting Langley 9-1 over the first thirteen minutes and scoring the opening goal just past the 4 and a half minute mark. Nathan Renouf rifled a wrist shot over Langley netminder Brock Crossthwaite's right pad for his second goal of the playoffs, moments after a lovely cross-ice feed from Anthony Conti.

Surrey poured the offense at the Langley net, but were forced to defend steadfastly in the latter stages of the opening frame. Netminder Bo Didur stopped all ten shots he faced in period one.

The Rivermen used an early second-period power-play to get back in the game, though. Veteran defenseman Zach Urban fired a shot through traffic from the left wing to even the score.

Undaunted, the Eagles fought back through the middle frame, coming closest to recapturing the lead when the Renouf twins forced a pair of turnovers deep in the Langley zone. Crossthwaite made his best save of the night robbing Nathan at the left post, moments before Eagles rearguard Kale Bennett ripped a point shot off the post.

Langley struck twice in the final 3 and a half minutes of period two in a turning point to Friday's game. First, on a power-play, Ustaski found the back of the net from the side of Didur's goal before Jakob Reichert banged home a rebound with 1:18 left in the frame to give the Rivermen a 3-1 lead heading into the intermission.

Ustaski has left his stamp on this first-round series with five goals in three games, the most recent of which came early in period three when, after racing down the left flank, laced a snapshot into the top corner of Didur's net to give Langley a 4-1 lead. Former Eagle Kevan Kilistoff added insult to injury just before the midpoint of the third period, outwaiting Didur on a clearcut chance in front of the net before Darien Craighead rounded out the visitors' offensive run from the slot at 11:08.

The Eagles scored on a pair of two-man advantages late in the game to narrow the scoreline, first through Chase McMurphy, who snapped his second goal in as many games past Crossthwaite from the left-wing circle.

The second two-man advantage came as the result of something entirely different. After Domenic Masellis was hit at centre ice, the two sides gathered in front of the Langley bench, tussling until first, Kilistoff knocked Eagles forward Sam Chatterley to the ice then, Chatterley's linemate Mitch Fyffe was engaged by a Rivermen player seated on his bench, sparking a wild fracas in the neutral zone that led to seven misconducts. After plenty of allusion to past incidents between the two sides, the late antics were the most marked of any malfaisance to occur thus far this series, though tempers cooled during the long delay following the incident.

On the ensuing power-play, Surrey defenseman Matt Dawson rounded out the evening's offense by wristing a point shot past Crossthwaite's left pad.

Didur made 30 saves Friday, including a penalty shot late in the third period off Marcus Vela. Crossthwaite earned the victory with a 28-save performance. The Rivermen now lead the series 2-1.

My Three Stars:
1. Matt Ustaski, Langley
2. Jakob Reichert, Langley
3. Zach Urban, Langley

Up Next:
Surrey will try to even the series in Saturday's Game Four at South Surrey Arena. Game time is 7:00 pm.

Friday, March 7, 2014

GAMEDAY: Eagles vs. Rivermen

Mainland Division Semi-Final, Game 3

Who: Surrey Eagles vs. Langley Rivermen
When: March 7, 7:00 pm
Where: South Surrey Arena

Pay-Per-View: FAST Hockey
Radio: Ustream

The Eagles' Mainland division semi-final shifts to the South Surrey Arena tonight, with nothing to choose between Surrey and the top-ranked Langley Rivermen. Both Games 1 and 2 were vise-tight, and with the series now relocating to the wide ice in South Surrey, the on-ice dynamic could well change, too.

The Eagles, written off by some at the outset of the series, have proven through the first two games that hard work and commitment can truly pay off, and will come into tonight's contest full of both confidence, and maybe more importantly, belief in themselves.

Surrey has spread out the scoring through their top six in the best-of-seven thus far, with rookie Anthony Conti leading the team in total points with 4.

37 of Surrey's 63 total shots in this series have come in the third period, as the Eagles have managed to capitalize three times in the final frame over the first two games.

Both teams have enjoyed incredible success on home ice this season. The time is right to see if the Eagles can hold serve in this heated rivalry.

Last Meeting: Nathan Renouf's goal 6:01 from the end of regulation time completed Wednesday's comeback, with the Eagles now enjoying home ice for three of the remaining five games of the best-of-seven series.

Our Opponent: Langley will rue a run of play in Wednesday's third period that resulted in four minor penalties. The Rivermen have conceded eleven power-plays through the first two games of the series and tonight will surely point to discipline as a key to success. Hulking centre Matt Ustaski has been a lot to handle through Games 1 and 2; the 6'6" forward leads all players in this series with 3 goals. All three, coincidentally, have been assisted by captain and linemate Mitch McLain. The Rivermen came out Wednesday with a real physical edge, watch for that to continue tonight. Rookie forward Darien Craighead celebrates his 17th birthday today.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Eagles 4 Rivermen 3

Nathan Renouf's goal 6:01 from the end of the third period broke a 3-3 tie as the Surrey Eagles evened their best-of-seven Mainland division semifinal with a 4-3 win in Langley Wednesday.

A determined Eagles squad overcame 3 deficits to wrest home-ice advantage away from the top-ranked Rivermen as the series shifts to South Surrey Arena Friday night.

Langley scored the first goal of each period, opening the scoring on a nifty passing play between Mitch McLain and Matt Ustaski, with the latter firing home the first of his two goals from the right circle four minutes into the game.

Surrey earned their offensive chances in a hard-hitting opening frame, with both Jonah Renouf and Kale Bennett taking the worst of hard checks from McLain and Tyson Witala. The Eagles found their equalizer on a power-play, as captain Danton Heinen wristed home a shot from right wing after a delicious give-and-go sequence with Joe Drapluk.

Langley, though, would find a second lead early in the second period. Gage Torrel redirected James Robinson's hard pass over Surrey netminder Bo Didur on an odd-man rush. The official closest to the net initially waved the goal off, but after an extended conversation (and numerous replays on the Langley Events Centre jumbotron) the decision was, correctly, reversed to give the hosts a 2-1 lead. 

Again, Surrey clawed back through Jonah Renouf. The diminutive winger took out a massive load of frustration on a loose puck near the right point, rifling a slapshot over Langley netminder Brock Crossthwaite's right pad to level the score at 2-2 heading into the third period.

The momentum shifted back in Langley's favour in the opening minute of the final frame, and again through Ustaski, who ripped a puck through Didur from the low slot.

Only the Chilliwack Chiefs were shorthanded more times than Langley in the regular season, and discipline caught up to the Rivermen in the third period as they were assessed four straight minor penalties for hooking, boarding, cross-checking and high-sticking.

The third penalty proved the most costly, as Heinen found linemate Chase McMurphy alone at the back post for the tying goal with 7:46 left in regulation time.

Nate Renouf then completed the comeback 1:45 later, with brother Jonah finding him alone in the slot from behind the net. Renouf unleashed a wrister over Crossthwaite's left shoulder, sending the travelling Surrey fans into a frenzy.

Didur and the Eagles then shut the door, frustrating the Rivermen through the dying minutes to even the series, and setting up an even more engaging Games 3 and 4 in Surrey Friday and Saturday night.

Didur stopped 28 shots to earn his first BCHL postseason win, while the Eagles also won in Langley for the first time in six tries this season.

My Three Stars:
1. Danton Heinen, Surrey
2. Matt Ustaski, Langley
3. Chase McMurphy, Surrey

Up Next: Game 3 is set for Friday night at South Surrey Arena. Game time is 7:00 pm.

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Bell network.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

GAMEDAY: Eagles @ Rivermen

 Mainland Division Semi-Final, Game 2

Who: Surrey Eagles @ Langley Rivermen
When: March 5, 7:15 pm
Where: Langley Events Centre

Pay-Per-View: FAST Hockey
Radio: Ustream

Anthony Conti will look to build on his two-goal performance from Game 1

A night after a tough defeat in the series opener, the Eagles go back to work in Langley in search of a two-game split at the Langley Events Centre. Two goals in an eleven-second span in Tuesday's second period proved to be crucial to the Rivermen's success in Game 1, as the hosts skated away with a 4-2 victory to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Score aside, Game 1 had little to choose between the two sides. The Eagles asserted themselves offensively thanks to a two-goal effort from Anthony Conti, while Bo Didur marked his BCHL playoff debut with a steady, 23-save effort.

Tonight, the Eagles will look to replicate the hard-working effort they put forward in Game 1. Both teams employed a grinding, dump-and-chase style which led to plenty of opportunities for forwards to finish checks in the offensive zone. The continuous physicality could well have an impact on the series in the long-term, too.

The Eagles also ran into a group of persistent shot-blockers in Game 1, but found a way to get pucks to the net as time progressed, peppering Brock Crossthwaite with 17 shots in the third period. Conti's second goal was a direct result of traffic in front of the net as well, and as a sizeable forward, the former Vancouver Northwest Giant would do well to act as a screen in front of the large Langley goaltender.

Game 1 proved to be an engaging opener to this Mainland division semi-final. Game 2 should be nothing less.

Joe Drapluk put together a hard-working two-way game Tuesday

Last Meeting: Surrey's late rally fell just short, and Evan Anderson's goal at 14:30 of the second period held up as Tuesday's game-winner. Shots on goal were even at 27-27.

Our Opponent: Langley used their size to their advantage Tuesday, playing with a physical edge and finishing checks all over the ice. The top line of Matt Ustaski, Mitch McLain and Jakob Reichert contributed heavily to the Rivermen attack; both Ustaski and Reichert play the power-forward role to a tee. Langley head coach Bobby Henderson was named the BCHL Coach of the Year Tuesday, and as part of his playoff game-plan rode blueliners Zach Urban and Chris Forney heavily as well; neither rearguard seemed to leave the ice in Tuesday's third period.

Rivermen 4 Eagles 2

**Editor's note: due to a lack of internet at my new house, recaps from Games 1 + 2 will not be available on until the morning after the game. Sorry for the inconvenience.**

Two goals in an 11-second span gave Langley a lead just big enough to hold as the Rivermen took Game 1 of this Mainland division semifinal 4-2 Tuesday.

Anthony Conti scored twice for the Eagles, while Jonah Renouf had a possible goal denied in the third period on a split-second play in the Langley crease.

Surrey started well in a tentative opening frame, with Conti putting the visitors ahead on a pretty solo effort 6 minutes into the first. Surrey held the lead going into the intermission after twenty very tentative minutes from both sides.

The hosts found an equalizer early in the second on a power-play. Matt Ustaski one-timed a shot through Surrey netminder Bo Didur after a hard pass from Mitch McLain from the left-wing corner. 

The Eagles very nearly took the lead again shortly after, but Renouf struck the crossbar on a rush down the left wing. Langley countered and found the go-ahead goal just after the 14-minute mark, when Marcus Vela banged home a rebound after Gage Torrel drove the net from the left corner.

Evan Anderson looped a bouncing puck over Didur's shoulder on the ensuing rush to give Langley a 3-1 lead, but again the Eagles pressed, coming close again when Matt Dawson cranked a snapshot off Brock Crossthwaite's right post in the dying moments of the period.

The score stayed static until Renouf found his opportunity, cutting around Langley d-man Tanner Johnson and bearing in alone on Crossthwaite. It appeared Renouf may have tucked the puck just across the goal-line under Crossthwaite's right pad, but no signal was given by the referee, who was at a difficult angle to view goings-on. After conferring with his officiating crew and the goal judge, the call of "no goal" was given.

Undaunted, Surrey pressed on, cutting the Langley lead to 3-2 with less than 3 minutes left when Conti tipped home Kale Bennett's point shot from the right wing. But despite an extra attacker and a slough of offensive zone time, Surrey could not find the equalizing goal, with Langley's Jakob Reichert adding an empty-netter as the final horn sounded for a 4-2 final score.

Game 1 was gritty, intense, and featured the type of physical play that typifies a divisional rivalry. The Eagles worked hard, and with repeated efforts like Tuesday will prove to be a thorn in Langley's side as the series progresses.

My 3 Stars:
1. Matt Ustaski, Langley
2. Anthony Conti, Surrey
3. Mitch McLain, Langley

Up Next: Game 2 of the best-of-seven series goes Wednesday at the Langley Events Centre. Game time is 7:15.

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Bell network.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

GAMEDAY: Eagles @ Rivermen

Mainland Division Semi-Final, Game 1

Who: Surrey Eagles @ Langley Rivermen
When: March 4, 7:15 pm
Where: Langley Events Centre

Pay-Per-View: FAST Hockey
Radio: Ustream

The second season begins tonight in Langley, as for the second consecutive season the Eagles take on the Rivermen in the Mainland division semi-finals. Surrey kick-started their Fred Page Cup run with a 4-game best-of-five victory over Langley a year ago, but with both sides featuring a slough of new faces from last March, past precedent will have little impact on the current go-round.

The Eagles finished the regular season earlier than every other team in the BCHL, having not played since the 4-3 overtime setback in Victoria on February 23rd. A full week of practice and preparation, as well as rest and relaxation, has Peter Schaefer's squad poised to tangle with the number 1 overall seed in the BCHL post-season.

Watch for Eagles captain Danton Heinen to have an extra hop in his step tonight. The Langley native committed to the University of Denver late last week, and finished the regular season tops among BCHL rookies with 62 points. Expect 16 year-old Bo Didur to carry much of the load between the pipes for Surrey, too. Didur played all three games on the recent Island swing, with a showcase, 31-save performance coming February 22nd in Nanaimo.

To have success in the series, the Eagles will need to find success at the Langley Events Centre. Surrey was outscored 17-5 in four games in Langley this season, but have not played away to the Rivermen since the new-look roster was formed at the January 10th deadline.

Special teams will also play a role tonight, and throughout the series. Only the Chilliwack Chiefs were short-handed more times during the regular season than Langley, while the Eagles boasted the second-best power-play efficiency through 58 games. The man-advantage clicked at a 3.5% better rate away from home than at South Surrey Arena as well.

Surrey's mentality has certainly changed since the January 10th deadline; the team looks energetic, more confident, and willing to battle for one another through the ups and downs of a best-of-seven series. The waiting is over, the playoffs are here, and tonight, we'll discover who on this Surrey roster is ready to play big.

Last Meeting: Nathan Renouf's overtime winner helped the Eagles to a 5-4 home win January 19th. Both Surrey victories over the Rivermen this season came on home ice, and in overtime.

Our Opponent: The Rivermen clinched the league's best regular-season record with a pair of wins in Prince George this past Thursday and Friday, and come into this series looking to build on an already strong campaign. Bobby Henderson's club plays a hard-checking, physical brand of hockey; watch for that to intensify as each post-season shift becomes more and more intense. Captain Mitch McLean led the Rivermen in regular-season scoring with 60 points, and is one of three Langley skaters (Jakob Reichert and Charlie Pelnik the others) to have amassed 85 or more minutes in penalties through the regular campaign. Langley's success against Surrey has come in part because of the size of their back-end, anchored by veteran rearguard Zach Urban. Brock Crossthwaite was the goaltender of record in 6 of the 8 regular-season meetings, posting a 5-1 record.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Heinen Commits To Denver

Surrey's captain has plenty to celebrate after committing to the Denver Pioneers

The Eagles captain has secured his NCAA future. Danton Heinen announced via Twitter late Thursday that he will attend the University of Denver following his time in the BCHL. And to put it bluntly, the Pioneers are getting themselves a player. No rookie had more than Heinen's 62 points during the 2013-14 season, as the Langley product caught fire midway through the season and adopted a leadership role following the trade of former captain Brett Mulcahy to Vernon in January.

Heinen scored 29 goals in 57 games this season, 20 of which came at the South Surrey Arena. The 18 year-old also chipped in with 8 power-play goals and 4 game-winning markers, and even a penalty-shot goal against Coquitlam on November 29th.

The full release from the team follows. Congrats "Heinz" on the great news!

The Surrey Eagles are pleased to announce the commitment of our team captain and leading scorer, Danton Heinen, to the University of Denver.

Heinen, a native of Langley, was named Eagles captain midway through the 2013-14 BCHL season, and led the Eagles and all BCHL rookies with 62 points this campaign. In 59 career BCHL games with Surrey and Merritt, Heinen has amassed 29 goals and 64 points, all while compiling only 8 minutes in penalties.

Prior to joining the Eagles, Heinen was a member of the Richmond Sockeyes team that was named Western Canada Junior "B" champions in 2013.

Heinen is the seventh player on the Eagles' current roster to have secured a commitment to an NCAA Division I school, joining Jonah & Nathan Renouf (Quinnipiac), Braeden Russell & Philippe Johansson (Brown), Chase McMurphy (Alaska) and Anthony Conti (Alaska-Anchorage).

Congratulations Danton on this terrific achievement!

The Eagles begin the 2014 BCHL playoffs Tuesday, March 4th in the Mainland division semi-final against the Langley Rivermen. Games 3 and 4 will be held at South Surrey Arena Friday, March 7th and Saturday, March 8th at 7:00 pm. For ticket information, please call the Eagles office at (604) 531-GOAL (4625) or secure your seats online at