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.