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

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP detachment. (Contributed file photo)
RCMP investigating report of shots fired in South Surrey

Police say they have not yet found evidence to confirm incident

Fraser Health is warning of a possible COVID-19 exposure after a dance competition at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel on May 7, 2021. (Photo: Google Maps)
Fraser Health warns of possible COVID exposure at Surrey dance competition

Another possible exposure at Abbotsford dance competition

Bucketheads – A Star Wars Story is being filmed near the 19000-block of 16 Avenue in South Surrey. (Mychaylo Prystupa photos)
Star Wars fan film ‘Bucketheads,’ shot in South Surrey, makes its debut

Volunteer initiative features new LED screen technology

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
More victims come forward after ‘indecent act’ at Surrey playground

Surrey RCMP is now releasing sketches of the suspect

A proposed 29-storey highrise development in North Delta’s Townline neighbourhood is headed to a public hearing on June 8, 2021. (Penmat Mana JV (Delta) Ltd./City of Delta report image)
North Delta highrise proposal headed to public hearing

Council voted 4-3 Monday (May 10) to move the 29-storey project forward

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

What3words was first created in the U.K. in 2013 and is credited to saving the lives of outdoor enthusiasts around the world. (Contributed)
‘This is a life saving tool’: App helps paramedics find capsized canoeists near Revelstoke

What3words pinpoints the person’s phone location to a three-meter range

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

Premier Mike Horgan received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Facebook/John Horgan)
More than 50% of people eligible in B.C. have received 1st vaccine dose

‘We’ve made extraordinary progress together over the past few weeks,’ says Premier Horgan

Most Read