Surrey Eagles ready to take flight with local players

SURREY — With a bunch of changes, including a buyout and a new head coach, the Surrey Eagles are ready to start the 2014/15 season.

Blaine Neufeld, who is taking the reins in his first British Columbia Hockey League game on Friday (Sept. 19), has been busy building a team of local talent.

"The group is coming together really quickly here, and in terms of getting to know one another, we do have a core of local guys," the coach said.

The Eagles will take on Penticton Friday evening before their second regular season game against Salmon Arm on Sunday. Both games will be played at Prospera Centre in Chilliwack for the BCHL’s season-opening showcase.

Of Surrey’s 21-man roster, six players are from outside of the province, with the majority of players coming from Surrey and White Rock.

"Everybody’s very familiar with the BCHL and familiar with the Eagles organization. There hasn’t been too much of a learning curve.

"You kind of skip the, ‘Hey. Who are you?’ stage with a bunch of kids who are coming in from out of town. Once a kid gets comfortable, then they really start opening up," said Neufeld.

The Eagles listed 13 players to its roster with BCHL rookie status, but only three of them are 16 years old.

The former Vancouver Giants goaltender said members of the squad are getting behind each other and they have a very positive vibe entering the season opener.

"There’s a lot of support for one another," Neufeld said. "Everybody seems to have everybody’s back, which is crucial in junior hockey."

Neufeld said the team has nearly sold out its home opener on Sept. 26.

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