Brandon West has been named the new head coach of the Surrey Eagles, the team announced Wednesday. (Contributed photo)

Brandon West named Surrey Eagles’ new head coach

Blaine Neufeld to stay on as BCHL team’s general manager after front-office shakeup

The Surrey Eagles will have a new coach behind the bench for the 2017/18 BC Hockey League season, following through on a pledge that team president and owner Chuck Westgard made back in March.

However, the new bench boss won’t be former assistant Rick Lanz, who finished the 2016/17 season in the head-coach role, with head coach/general manager Neufeld serving as solely as GM.

Instead, former Salmon Arm Silverbacks head coach Brandon West has been hired to take over, while Neufeld loses the dual role but will remain as the team’s general manager.

As well, Westgard will take a more hands-on role with the team, a news release notes, and will essentially replacing the management company that was been brought aboard three years ago to run the team – and for which Neufeld previously worked. Now, Neufeld is solely an employee of the Eagles, Westgard said.

“I think it’ll be a breath of fresh air for Blaine, and he can really focus on what he does best. He’s very excited about it,” Westgard told Peace Arch News Wednesday, prior to the team’s official announcement. “He’s been very busy since February, travelling and trying to find us some hockey players.”

Neufeld said the hiring was “something we have been planning to do for some time now.”

“It was all about finding the right person that shared the same vision as myself and that I’d be willing to trust to carry it out,” he said. “We have taken our hits and… are stronger (for) them, but now we are so close to winning that it was extra important it was the perfect fit, which we feel (West) is.”

Lanz will not return to the team, Westgard said, nor will fellow assistant coach Riley Sweeney. Sweeney, a former Eagles’ defenceman, has decided to return to the ice as a player and will be pursuing playing opportunities in Europe, Westgard said.

In West, the Eagles’ bring aboard a coach who, while just 32 years old, has plenty of experience. He has seven years experience in the BCHL, the last three as head coach of the Silverbacks. He signed a multi-year deal with Surrey and will also hold the title of director of player personnel. In 2015, West served as coach during the CJHL Top Prospects game – which was played at South Surrey Arena – and he’s also served as a coach with Canada West at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge.

“I am honoured and exicted to be joining the Surrey Eagles organization. We have an eager group here that is driven to make an impact on and off the ice,” West said in the release.

“After meeting with all the staff, things just lined up in what we are all looking for, and we believe we are heading in the right direction… my family and I are very excited to be Surrey Eagles.”

Westgard – who praised West for “really being on the pulse of the league” – said the changes within the organization were made with an eye to returning the team to “where it is meant to be, the RBC Championship.”

Three years ago, the Eagles won the BCHL’s Fred Page Cup and the Western Canada Cup, eventually losing in overtime in the semifinal of the RBC Cup in P.E.I.

While Neufeld and West will run the hockey-operations side of the organization, Westgard – a former professional baseball player who is one of Canada’s most successful girls fastpitch coaches – said he will be “more actively involved in the decisions.”

“I’m just going to be able to help more (than in the past),” he said.

He joked that, with the previous management group out, “there’s a little heat on me now, I guess,” but was excited nonetheless.

“We sat down and looked at everything… and I just thought for the well-being of the organization, this was the way to go.”

Just Posted

Surrey Mountie won’t face charges for scooter scuffle

The Surrey-based IIO has decided not to forward the case to Crown counsel for review

High-risk sex offender released into Surrey

Earon Wayne Giles, a Newton “tag-team rapist,” was released from prison Friday and is now living in Surrey

Pedestrian seriously injured in Surrey traffic crash

A 54-year-old man was hit by a car early Thursday evening while crossing Highway 10 at 152nd Street

VIDEO: Nature provides practice space for North Delta musician

Terry Lee has become a fixture over the years playing his cornet in and near the Delta Nature Reserve

WATCH: $76 million pledged for coastal flooding mitigation in Surrey and Delta

Six-lane bridge planned over South Surrey’s Nicomekl bridge

B.C.’s fight to regulate bitumen through pipelines to go to Canada’s top court

BC Appeal Court judges found B.C. cannot restrict bitumen flow along Trans Mountain pipeline

Burnaby facility to dispose of 1,500 tonnes of Canada’s trash from Philippines

All 103 containers will be disposed of properly within Canada before the end of the summer

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

Man wants guilty plea revoked in 2012 collision in Abbotsford that killed Chilliwack woman

Michael Larocque was charged in relation to crash that killed Eileen Kleinfelder

Vancouver woman sexually assaulted after man follows her home; suspect at large

Police are looking for an Asian man in his 40s after the incident on Vancouver’s east side.

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parents’ cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

UPDATE: Vancouver man dies after crash between motorcycle, transport truck

Police believe speed was a factor in Thursday collision

Trial slated to start Monday for accused killer of Abbotsford cop

Oscar Arfmann faces first-degree murder for death of Const. John Davidson

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

Most Read

l -->