Say this for the Surrey Eagles – they’re staying true to their word.
When owner Chuck Westgard took over sole control of the BC Hockey League team in April – buying out his remaining minority partners – he promised the team would have a renewed interest in icing a lineup of local faces.
And midway through the off-season, the team has done just that, signing three players with local ties and trading for another, all in the last three weeks.
Last month, the Birds – who lost to the Langley Rivermen in the first round of BCHL playoffs last season – signed 20-year-old Semiahmoo Minor Hockey alum Ben Vikich, who spent the majority of last season in Maine, with the Portland Pirates of the United States Premier Hockey League.
“I’m excited to come back to Surrey for my 20 year-old season,” said Vikich. “as a kid I regularly attended Surrey Eagles games hoping to one day represent my home-town team.”
A week after Vikich’s arrival, the Eagles signed Surrey native Quinn Lenihan, who played Junior B last season for the Grandview Steelers in Vancouver, and on Tuesday announced that White Rock resident Sam Chatterley – who suited up for the Eagles 12 time last year as an affiliate player last season – would also come into the fold full-time this fall.
Lenihan, who at six-foot-four will add some size to the Eagles’ forward group, attended Earl Marriott Secondary’s hockey academy last season, while Chatterley is a Valley West Hawks major-midget alum, and spent most of last season with the Junior B Delta Icehawks.
“(Quinn) is a big, skilled player… He will be able to fit in and contribute right away,” said Eagles director of hockey operations Blaine Neufeld said in a release.
“(Sam) plays on the edge and I would imagine the players will feed off his energy and passion. Sam will be a fun player to watch.”
Earlier this week, the Eagles also welcomed forward Demico Hannoun back into the nest.
The Delta native was a key member of the Eagles’ Fred Page Cup championship team of 2012/13, but was dealt to the Vipers that offseason to complete an earlier trade for Adam Tambellini.
Now, in a ironic twist, Hannoun is back in South Surrey, once again to complete an earlier trade.
Hannoun and forward Ben Butcher – son of former Canucks defenceman Garth Butcher – were dealt to the Eagles to complete the ‘future considerations’ component of the January trade that saw Surrey captain Brett Mulcahy head to the Vipers.
Hannoun had 15 goals and 44 points in 47 games for Vernon last season, while the six-foot-two Butcher – who spent last season playing in Chilliwack before a deal earlier this summer to Vernon – had 13 goals and 31 points for the Chiefs last year.
The BC Hockey League held its annual general meeting earlier this month in Richmond, with few changes coming for 2014/15.
Last season’s playoff format – best-of-seven series in the first two rounds, followed by a third-round round robin format and then a championship series – will carry over for a second year.
The BCHL Showcase will also return, Sept. 19-21 in Chilliwack.