Surrey Eagles captain Paul McAvoy falls under Trevor Ayre of the Langley Rivermen during Sunday’s BC Hockey League game in Langley.

There’s a lot of purpose left in year: Eagles coach

Surrey Eagles focus on future after playoff hopes officially dashed last month.

Though they were officially eliminated from BC Hockey League playoff contention two weekends ago, the Surrey Eagles still have plenty to play for over the final month of the season, says head coach Blaine Neufeld.

That the Eagles won’t participate in the playoffs is no great surprise –  with just six wins on the season, the writing had been on the wall for weeks, if not months – but whether it’s young players trying to cement a spot on next year’s roster, or older players still vying for attention from college scouts, Neufeld insists these last 10 games are as important as any other .

“We’re playing for pride, yeah there’s a little bit of that, sure. And we’re a young group that is learning how to win, so there’s lots of things we can still take from these last few games. There’s a lot of purpose,” he said.

Neufeld’s optimism hasn’t waned despite another three losses last weekend – 4-3 to Wenatchee, 5-2 to Chilliwack and 4-2 against Langley.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

The three opponents are the top three teams in the BCHL’s Mainland Divison – and all have already qualified for the playoffs – and Surrey came close to earn victories against both the Wild and Rivermen.

Against Wenatchee on Friday, the Birds led 2-1 early in the third period until Wenatchee scored twice in 20 seconds to steal a lead and the game’s momentum; against Langley Sunday afternoon, it was a three-goals-in-two-minutes explosion from the Rivermen that sunk the visiting Eagles.

“We had small lapses in focus in each game, and it cost us. That’s our kryptonite right now – bouncing back after a goal against,” said Neufeld.

“But we aren’t overly concerned with the scoreboard at this point. We look a bit deeper now – are we out-chancing them, are we playing better defence?

“Wenatchee is one of the best teams in our league and we limited them to just 27 shots, and in Langley, I thought we controlled long portions of the game, to be honest.”

From an offensive standpoint, Eagles’ forwards Jaxon Joseph and Kurt Black were the team’s standouts – and both are examples Neufeld pointed to when detailing the importance of the team’s remaining games.

For example, Joseph – who had two goals Friday against the Wild – is a rookie, having joined Surrey from the junior ‘B’ ranks in midseason.

He – and a host of other young players that dot the Eagles’ roster – need strong showings down the stretch to ensure they stay in the team’s plans for next season.

“Even though we aren’t in the playoffs, you want to give everything you’ve got to make sure you’ve given the coaches enough to want to bring you back. Nobody wants to be left behind,” Neufeld said.

“And Jaxon is a good example. He’s been able to adapt very quickly to this level, and he’s been a super-underrated player for us since he joined us.”

The 20-year-old Black, meanwhile, is playing for a college scholarship – something Neufeld expects he will achieve in the not-too-distant future.

“Guys like Kurt, and (goaltender) Justin Laforest, we’re trying to showcase both those guys, and there’s been a lot of interest. I know as an older player it can be tough to go into the last few games of your season without (a scholarship), but for both those guys, I know this isn’t the end of their hockey careers,” Neufeld said.

Though wins and losses are of little consequence now, Neufeld said his team has still set a goal to win at least five of the remaining 10 games on the schedule. They’ll get an opportunity for three of those this coming long weekend – they travel to Prince George for games against the Spruce Kings today (Friday) and Saturday, and then return home for a 2 p.m. Family Day matinee Monday against the Coquitlam Express.

Just Posted

Surrey Board of Trade fears SkyTrain expansion will impede other transit needs

‘We need transit improvements in all of Surrey,’ Anita Huberman says

Public hearing set for two Surrey modular housing projects for homeless

Surrey council set to vote Monday on projects in Guildford, Whalley

North Delta Secondary teacher up for B.C. education award

Prabhjot Grewal is up for a Premier’s Award for Excellence in Education in the Outstanding New Teacher category

Publication ban lifted on transgender complainant’s name in Surrey waxing dispute

Jessica Yaniv filed 13 discrimination claims against salons, one in Surrey, based on gender identity

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Former Fernie Ghostrider re-signs with Vancouver Canucks

Josh Teves has signed a two-year contract with the NHL team

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

UPDATE: West Kelowna fawn euthanized, not claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer has been euthanized after a suitable home was not found in time

BC Wildfire Service warns wet weather no reason to be complacent

Fire risk currently low for much of B.C. compared to same time over last two years.

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

Trudeau says Ottawa open to proposals for B.C. refinery as gas prices soar

Prime minister says he knows B.C. residents are struggling and the federal government is open to ideas

HISTORY: Surrey hoedowns and ‘moonlight dances’ were the place to be

Dancing, revelry united community members of all ages

Most Read