The Surrey Eagles Junior A hockey team is preparing to face off against alumni from two of the best B.C. Hockey League teams in history.
The Sept. 10 game will pit the Eagles’ current roster against players from squads from 1996-97 and 1997-98 at South Surrey Arena.
Among the standouts from those early Eagles’ teams was the KGB line – Shane Kuss, Scott Gomez and Rodney Bowers, who combined for 148 goals and 189 assists during the regular season.
They also netted 42 goals and 63 assists in 22 playoff games.
They were a force to be reckoned with and will be back on the ice together for the first time in 19 years.
Gomez, selected 27th overall by the New Jersey Devils in the 1996 NHL draft, is likely to draw a crowd as his professional career earned him a Calder Memorial Trophy in 2000 for top NHL rookie, along with two NHL all-star game nods. He’s also a two-time Stanley Cup winner with the New Jersey Devils.
In 1997, the Eagles finished with a record of 47-7-6 for 100 points, and won the BCHL championship by defeating the Vernon Vipers in the Subway Cup. They then beat the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League champions, the Cranbrook Colts and the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, to earn a berth in the Royal Bank Cup.
In the tournament, held in Summerside, P.E.I., the Eagles went 3-1 in the round robin and beat the Kanata Valley Lasers 4-2 in the semi-final before falling to the host Summerside Western Capitals 4-3.
The next year would bring the ultimate prize – the Royal Bank Cup – to the South Surrey Eagles. This time, in Nanaimo, the Eagles cruised through the tournament, ultimately beating the Weyburn Red Wings 4-1 in the final.
Team captain Kris Wilson will be in Surrey for the alumni weekend, as will almost all the players – including Gomez – from those two years, according to organizers.
Mark Holick served as head coach in 1997-98, and was joined on the bench by assistant coach John Short.
“I have always thought about how special this group of players were and what we accomplished and how we accomplished it; about how much dedication, commitment and class we showed every step of the way. I have been searching for a team like that to coach ever since, and have yet to find it,” said Holick, according to a news release.
Another former member of the Eagles set to play in the alumni game is current Eagles assistant coach Colin Hemingway. Hemingway had a successful hockey career starting with the Eagles in the 1996-97 season. In the RBC winning season, he rang up 104 points and received a full scholarship to the University of New Hampshire.
Hemingway saw his first NHL game with the St. Louis Blues in the 2005-06 season after being drafted 221 overall in 1999.
Many other players were awarded university scholarships for their efforts in that cup-winning season.
The alumni game will include a memorial tribute to Jeff Nabseth, an enforcer for the cup team, who died following a bicycle accident in 1999 near his hometown of Nanaimo.
The alumni game is set for 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10. Tickets are $5 at the door.