September slump for Eagles, rookie coach remains calm

SURREY – The Surrey Eagles probably don’t want to remember too much this September. The team failed to pick up a win in their first five games of the 2014/15 B.C. Hockey League season.

The team played a home-and-away series with Chilliwack before returning home to play Prince George last weekend (Sept. 26-28) and came away with a single point from the three games.

The Eagles are the only team in the BCHL without a win so far this season, but first-year coach Blaine Neufeld isn’t panicking.

Neufeld said it wasn’t really a September slump, more like September adversity, and that the team remains positive despite going 0-3-2 to start the season.

“We’ve seen some progressions in each and every game,” said Neufeld.

The rookie coach also mentioned the team had a couple of heartbreaking defeats in double overtime to Salmon Arm and Chilliwack, and that it is only a matter of time for his team to turn their season around.

“You work hard for 59 and a half minutes,

and then there’s a mental breakdown with 17 seconds left to go and it hits the back of your net for a 2-1 loss.

“It’s tough to win in this league, as we’re finding out,” he said.

The former Vancouver Giants netminder said the key to turning around the season for the Eagles is consistency and limiting turnovers.

“We show signs of really great hockey for 20 minutes and then we’ll have mental lapse for five minutes, and suddenly we’re down in the hockey game. Consistency is something that we will stress.

“I think we’re giving too many pucks away,” said Neufeld. “We can control the play more than we, are and that comes with confidence and togetherness.”

Six of Surrey’s next seven games are at South Surrey Arena and Neufeld is hoping the team can use the home stretch to alter their season.

“We look at the next home stand here as one where we can get our feet underneath us with one win. As soon as we get one, we’re going to get a number of them coming right after another,” he said.

The Eagles are currently tied for last place in the league. They have also scored the least number of goals (nine) and conceded the most (26).

On Friday (Oct. 3), the team hosts the Nanaimo Clippers before welcoming the Langley Rivermen two days later.

kyle.benning@gmail.com

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