SURREY — Five games into the Pacific Junior Hockey League season, the team known as the Surrey Knights has yet to win its first game.
Although the prognosis might seem a tad bleak, there’s much more to the team than their record would indicate.
The Knights are, in most every measure, a team experiencing a rebirth. Last season was one to forget – a 4-38 record, a goal differential of -183, and an ugly bench-clearing brawl that culminated in multiple suspensions and national news outlet coverage.
- SEE ALSO: Knights look to make most of aging rink in North Surrey, story from Sept. 6, 2016.
This year sees a new attitude, a fresh new season for head coach in Paul Whintors, and no less than a dozen first-time PJHL players. And one other thing: the Knights have moved, once again.
Not long after relocating from North Delta to Langley, the team grabbed its suitcases once more and ended up in Surrey – at North Surrey Recreation Centre, to be exact.
Much of the credit for the Knights’ new and improved feel has to go to the players themselves. And one need not look much further than Surrey’s own Dosange brothers.
Jeevan and Kiret Dosange aren’t exactly your average hockey players. For starters, they’re twins. They’ve played together, often on the same line, since they got into the sport. And that puts them in rare “Daniel and Henrik Sedin” territory.
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(PICTURED: Surrey Knight Kiret Dosange powers to the net during a game against the Abbotsford Pilots Sept. 15 at North Surrey Rec Centre. Dosange scored on the play but his team lost 7-3. Photo: Gord Goble)
But more than that, neither of them had even skated – never mind played a real game of hockey – until they were 12.
“We started seven years ago,” Jeevan says. “We always wanted to play hockey, but our dad’s not too big on sports. But finally, Dad decided to put us in and see how we did. My brother and I felt if we worked hard we could do well at it.”
It wasn’t easy. When they began, says Jeevan, “We couldn’t skate or shoot. We couldn’t even get the puck off the ice. And our dad was always hard on us. He said we shouldn’t play sports. We wanted to prove people wrong.”
And that’s what they did. Jeevan says they “trained all the time, and started working out at the gym,” and both he and his brother credit family friend and personal trainer Partap Sandhu for working tirelessly to build them into bigger, better physical specimens.
But that caused its own issues. As the brothers packed on the muscle, and given their late start, they became typecast in the role of enforcers. And that’s not what these guys are all about.
Says Kiret, “At least we made a name for ourselves. But we wanted to put the puck in net more than we wanted to hit people.”
And they did have one advantage that would eventually help them in that regard. Kiret calls it “twin telepathy,” and claims they have a sixth sense that helps them know precisely what the other twin is doing at any particular moment – again, just like the Sedins.
“We grew up in Surrey playing hockey and it’s just crazy to be playing here in our own barn,” says Kiret. “We want to turn this team into something bigger. We have the motivation to help lead this team, to start stringing together some wins.”
There are other Surrey players on the Knights as well. There’s rookie goalie Jeevan Bains, rookie forward Navin Basran and returning forward Nick Bizzutto.
Traded twice in the past six months (once to the Grandview Steelers for their 2015-16 playoff push), Bizzutto says he is happy to be back as a first-time captain.
“It’s a team filled with rookies,” he said. “We had a rough year last year. Now we get a chance to reset and get a bunch of young guys who want to play.”
Visit Surreyknights.ca for schedule, roster and other details about the hockey team.
The scene in the Knights dressing room. Photo: Gord Goble
On-ice action at North Surrey Recreation Centre. Photo: Gord Goble