Shane Kuss at Centennial Arena in White Rock. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

HOCKEY

Catching up with Kuss: Why the ex-Surrey Eagle’s league records may never be broken

The Semiahmoo Peewee A1 team he coaches with Matt Erhart is ranked #1 in Western Canada

On the BCHL’s new historical statistics page, one that highlights some of the junior hockey league’s all-time greats and their career records, a name that tops two categories should be familiar to Surrey-area hockey fans.

Shane Kuss, the former Surrey Eagles standout who now coaches in the area, is noted for most career points (418) and most career assists (282).

They are among league records that may never be broken, according to Brent Mutis, the league’s communications director.

“From my perspective, I think it’s fair to say that both the single-season and career scoring records are safe,” Mutis told the Now-Leader.

There are a few reasons for that, he said.

“First, most players don’t play enough seasons in the BCHL to accumulate those totals. Most players that post high scoring totals play two or three seasons, earn a scholarship and move on to college.

“The other thing is, players just don’t rack up those kinds of season totals anymore. It’s fairly rare to have a player reach 100 points in a season now. The goaltending, coaching and skating ability of the players on defence is so much better than in Shane’s playing days.”

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Kuss, who played for the Eagles (then known as South Surrey Eagles) from 1993 to 1997, is also listed in 10th spot for most assists (90) in a single season, achieved in his final year with the team. Kuss shares the mark with Rick Shinske of the ‘72-‘73 Kamloops Rockets.

Surprisingly, given his career-total mark, Kuss is not listed among the top-10 players with most points in a season. Tops in that category is Hockey Hall of Famer Brett Hull, who scored an astonishing 188 points during his 1983-84 season with Penticton Knights. In comparison, Jasper Weatherby scored a league-leading 74 points for Wenatchee Wild last season.

Notably, Kuss’ career-points total of 418 is 42 more than the player in second (Penticton’s Gordie McKay, from the mid-1970s), and his career-assists mark of 282 sits 59 atop Evan Williams’ total, scored with three teams in the disco decade.

Kuss, whose jersey hangs from the rafters at South Surrey Arena, runs SK Hockey Development, which has trained pro players including Brent Seabrook, Milan Lucic and Troy Brouwer.

Last March, Kuss and business partner Matt Erhart were named player-development leads for Semiahmoo Minor Hockey Association, and together they coach Semi’s powerhouse Peewee A1 team this season. The squad is currently ranked #1 in Western Canada by Pittsburgh-based MYHockeyRankings, billed as “The #1 youth hockey rankings website in North America” on the company’s Twitter bio.

“It’s kind of nice,” Kuss said, “because he (Erhart) brings the defensive side of the game and I bring the offensive side, we both played for the Surrey Eagles and both coached the Surrey Eagles, so it’s good.”

The Peewee team will host the provincial-finals tournament at the end of the current season, and will play in the famed Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament in February.

“I played in that tournament when I was younger,” said Kuss, who lives in Ladner, “so it’s kind of reliving my youth, all those fun experiences I had at that tournament, and I get to see these kids have that chance to experience it, too. It’s a pretty special group of players we’re coaching. It’s cool, we’re having fun with it.”

As for his BCHL records, Kuss reflected on that time in his life, too.

“I guess it’s surprising because it seems so long ago now, you know, and there are a lot of great players around now, but I guess it seems like times have changed a bit, in the sense of players don’t spend as long in the league, maybe – that could be part of it,” he reasoned.

“Kids are kind of leaving earlier to school and other leagues, more than it once was, you know, so those are factors in it,” Kuss added. “If you look back to the ’70s and ’80s, a lot of those players played a lot of years of junior hockey, but if you look at the NHL now, it’s younger and younger. So because the NHL is getting younger, that kind of filters down and the leagues below it get younger as well, and they’re moving on sooner. There is a fight for those players, and getting those commitments earlier, that kind of thing.”

Another thing, he noted, there are more hockey teams and leagues these days, meaning talent is spread around more, compared to when he played junior.

“Teams aren’t as deep now, because some of our teams were three, four lines deep, and we had guys on our third line who were scoring 20, 25 goals, and other teams were too, like Chilliwack, Penticton, teams like that. A lot of those third lines back then could probably number-one lines today, because there are just more teams and the talent is more spread out.

“Coaches have to coach a little differently now, to keep their jobs, right,” he continued, “so a more defensive style comes in a little bit, too. There are a lot of different factors. There are a lot of great players out there today, too, but the game evolves and changes, and that was a different era.”

Does Kuss believe his two records will go unchallenged for seasons to come?

“As long as the game stays the way it is, with players not spending as much time with one team, one league, maybe, but I think one day, as anything, those will get surpassed,” he said. “And it would be great to see someone else have that success, obviously, and enjoying those moments as I did. Those were some pretty special years.”

In the BCHL, the records that will be threatened nowadays are the goalie records, according to Mutis.

“Save percentage, goals-against average, shutouts,” he said. “Those would be the ones to watch.”

In early November, the BCHL’s historic stats page (bchl.ca/all-time-stats) was published on the league’s website for the first time since the domain went live in 2003.

The page includes a top-10 list of players for most categories, along with a section of miscellaneous records, such as most points in a game (12, shared by Joe Murphy of the 1985 Penticton Knights and Ken Stroud of the 1977 Merritt Centennials).

“We have obviously had some great names play in our league and some impressive records set, so it’s long since due that we had a place online to reflect that,” Mutis said. “I have to give a big thanks to our league historian, Fred Hume, for helping us with a lot of this data as well; his work over the years has been a huge asset to us.”

Most of the statistics since the 2003-04 season are “solid,” notes a BCHL release, because of the advent of the BCHL’s website that year, “but there have been gaps in the historical record of the league for many of the seasons prior and dating back to the inaugural season in 1961-62. For that reason, the BCHL is encouraging fans and media that may have updates or corrections to any of the league records to get in touch. Any statistical information is welcome and can be sent to the league at media@bchl.ca.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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The powerhouse Semiahmoo Peewee A1 hockey team, coached by Shane Kuss and Matt Erhart, scores a game-opening goal against Burnaby Winter Club’s A2 squad Thursday (Dec. 6) at Centennial Arena in White Rock. The home team won 14-1. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

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