Surrey Eagles goalie Hayden Missler made 39 saves in a 2-1 win over Prince George on Saturday night. (Garrett James photo)

Surrey Eagles goalie Hayden Missler made 39 saves in a 2-1 win over Prince George on Saturday night. (Garrett James photo)

Surrey Eagles aim to head into holiday break on ‘high note’

BC Hockey League team has one game left – this Friday against Prince George – before Christmas

There isn’t likely a team in the BC Hockey League that could use a break quite as much as the Surrey Eagles.

Since training camp, the team has gone through three head coaches – the first of whom left the team just days before the season was set to begin – five goaltenders and countless affiliate-player call-ups, and they sit at the bottom of the league’s Mainland Division as the Christmas break approaches with a record 8-25-1-2 (win-loss-overtime loss-shootout loss).

“It’s been an up-and-down year, for sure, with injuries and everything else,” said Eagles head coach Linden Saip, who took over the top coaching job less than a month ago after Peter Schaefer was let go.

Schaefer, of course, was pressed into head-coaching duties unexpectedly himself when Brandon West quit in training camp after just one season behind the bench.

“But I think our group is handling it well. We’ve had a lot of injuries, but it’s all about working hard and sticking to our process. We’re slowly getting some (injured) guys back, too – we’ll have some back after the break,” Saip continued.

• READ ALSO: Three-team trade brings another goalie into Surrey Eagles’ nest

For the better part of the last two months, Surrey has been beset by injuries and suspensions, and have relied on affiliate players to fill out their lineup. Many times, with no AP players available, they’ve simply played with a short bench.

“This is definitely the worst I’ve seen it, as far as injuries go. It’s been crazy,” Saip said. “But the guys we’ve called up have done very well for us, and we’ve been proud of them. We (were) short again this weekend (so) we just manage with what we have – it’s the best we can do.”

Injury issues aside, the Eagles have been on an upswing of sorts with Saip at the helm. The team has picked up single points after overtime and shootout losses, and Saturday in Prince George defeated the Spruce Kings 2-1 thanks in large part to a 39-save effort from goaltender Hayden Missler. The win game a day after the Birds were on the wrong end of a 2-1 score, also against Prince George.

With just one more game before the holiday break – a Friday night home tilt against Prince George again – the Eagles, despite their struggles through the first half of the season, sit just a few wins out of a playoff spot in a league where all but one team qualifies for the postseason.

After this Friday’s game, the team will disperse for a little more than a week, and reconvene for a Jan. 1 evening practice. They’ll return to game against Jan. 4 in Trail against the Smoke Eaters.

“We’ll practice that night to give everybody a bit more time to get back into town, and then we’ll get right back at it,” Saip said.

During the Christmas holidays, members of the team will scatter across North America, with players heading home to among other places, Newfoundland, Quebec, New Jersey, South Dakota and Florida.

Saip said every team is in need of a break this time of year, regardless of how their season has gone to date.

“No matter where you’re at in the season it’s always nice to take a mental break from everything and go home and spend some time with your family and friends,” said Saip, who won’t be travelling over the break as is family lives in the Lower Mainland.

“These guys are still kids, so it’s definitely hard for them to be away from home for this long. I know they’re all definitely looking forward to going home, but we still have (a game) left to go so we have to go out and take care of business.”

With regard to staying in game shape over the holidays, Saip said he wasn’t overly concerned with how his players spend their time off – within reason, of course.

“It’s something we’ll talk about, but when the guys get home they’ll get back to seeing their friends, and there’s a lot of guys whose friends have also been out of town playing, so it’s a bit of reunion. But our guys are smart – they’ll take care of themselves.

“With how hurt we’ve been, there’s nothing wrong with a week of rest. You aren’t going to get that out of shape in a week, so maybe it’s just a case where you put on a couple pounds and then lose them in the first couple days back at practice and then you’re back to normal.”

Before thinking of holiday habits, Saip and his group are instead focusing on Friday’s game.

“The guys will be antsy and excited to get home, but we just have to remind them to stay focused. The guys know how important every game is,” he said.

“It’s always nice going into the break on a high. That’s obviously our goal, and if we can take two of these three games… we’ll be sitting in a good spot going into the break, and feeling good about ourselves here.”



sports@peacearchnews.com

Visit us at peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BCHLSurrey Eagles

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pixabay image
Surrey recovers 29,000 jobs it lost to pandemic

That’s according to Surrey Board of Trade’s fifth Surrey Labour Market Intelligence Report on COVID-19

A worker is seen throwing a chicken in an undercover video in 2017 filmed by California-based animal rights activists Mercy For Animals.
Fraser Valley chicken abuse trial delayed until February

Originally scheduled for a jury trial, Sofina and Chilliwack company now face judge alone

Desmond Tompkins helped curate and host a youth art show at the South Surrey/White Rock Learning Centre. (Contributed photo)
South Surrey/White Rock Learning Centre art show highlights ‘diverse perspectives’

With COVID-19 protocols in place, youth art show underway

The SACH Community Hub team, from left to right: Upkar Singh Tatlay, Gary Thandi, Allysha Ram, Jassy Pandher, Harman Pander. (Submitted photo)
There’s help for South Asian men wrestling with drug addiction in Surrey

South Asian deaths related to toxic drugs increased by 255 per cent between 2015 and 2018

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) is looking into the death of man discovered Jan. 11 in east Maple Ridge. (Black Press files)
B.C.’s police watchdog investigating man’s death in Maple Ridge

Man was found dead Jan. 11 after recent contact with police

Chilliwack Law Courts. (Black Press file)
Man sentenced to 20 months for sexual offences involving a minor in Mission

Will Laws Clark was 22 and victim was 13 at time offences began

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

The Abbotsford Tulip Festival is permanently closing, with plans to eventually set up in Armstrong, B.C. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Abbotsford Tulip Festival is closing, with plans to rebloom in Armstrong

Event organizer says pandemic and sale of land were factors in decision

Most Read