Former Surrey Eagles star Scott Gomez has been hired as an assistant coach with the BCHL team.
It’s a return to South Surrey Arena for the two-time Stanley Cup champion, who played here for a single season in 1996-97 before heading south to Tri-City Americans of the WHL and, later, New Jersey Devils and six other NHL teams until his 2016 retirement from pro hockey.
The Alaska-born Gomez was an assistant coach of New York Islanders from 2017 to 2019, and now joins the junior ranks in a city familiar to him.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been involved in the hockey side of it since I was coaching with the Islanders, and at one point I always wanted to get back into it,” Gomez told Sportsnet 650 on Wednesday, Aug. 30.
“The opportunity presented itself,” he added. “I was more looking forward to, you know, trying it out at that level, juniors, around-that-age kid because I think that’s where we mostly can come out and help…. These kids are fresh, they’ve got dreams, aspirations to go places. I’m pretty excited to see what the junior level is going to be like.”
Big news for Surrey Eagles. https://t.co/3zphLHXTPu— Tom Zillich (@TomZillich) August 29, 2023
In Surrey, he told the radio station, “besides losing in the (national) finals there, it was one of the best years, and kinda started my path of going to the NHL.”
With the Eagles, Gomez scored 48 goals and 76 assists in 56 games before netting another 18 and adding 23 helpers in 21 playoff games.
Today’s Cam Keith-coached Eagles will look to improve on last season, when the team made it to the second round of BCHL playoffs after a second-place finish in the Coastal Conference.
A “Next Generation” post on bchl.ca charts some of the new recruits, including forward Cade Cranston of Rochester, N.Y., defenseman Nathan Oickle of Peterborough, Ont., D-man Sid McNeill of Summerside, P.E.I., forward Ryan Schelling of Airmont, N.Y. and Surrey’s Miles Burgin, among several others.
The team will play six exhibition games in September, starting Sept. 3 in Coquitlam. Pre-season home games for the Eagles are on Sept. 4 and 13, with all the rest on the road.
The season starts Friday, Sept. 22 at South Surrey Arena against Victoria Grizzlies.