Peter Schaefer on the Surrey Eagles bench during a stint there during the 2013-14 season. (File photo)

Surrey Eagles change coaches a week from season start; Schaefer in, West out

Former Canuck returns to familiar role as bench boss of BCHL team

Little more than a week before the start of the 2018-19 hockey season, and well into their exhibition-games schedule, the Surrey Eagles have announced a coaching change.

Peter Schaefer will immediately take over as head coach, according to a post on the BCHL team’s website, with bench boss Brandon West stepping down. He has “mutually agreed to part ways with the team,” the team says.

Schaefer was previously head coach of the Eagles for the 2013-14 season after serving as an assistant coach before that. He is a veteran of 13 pro hockey seasons during his playing career, which included 572 NHL games with Vancouver Canucks, Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins.

“We’re very excited about this year’s group of players, and we’re confident moving forward with Peter Schaefer in charge,” Eagles general manager Blaine Neufeld said about the coaching change.

“We want to thank Brandon West for what he accomplished while with the Eagles. He’s a very passionate coach, and he will certainly find another opportunity quickly.”

In July, the franchise announced the return of Schaefer as an assistant coaching for the coming season.

• READ MORE: Former Canuck Schaefer returns to Surrey Eagles as assistant coach.

West is stepping away from the organization because of personal reasons, according to the website post.

He led the Eagles to a 26-22-8 record last season and a first-round playoff victory over Langley Rivermen.

“The entire team thanks him for his time in Surrey, and wishes him nothing but the best in his future in hockey,” the post adds.

The team is looking to add another BCHL-experienced assistant coach to the staff, Neufeld said.

The Eagles’ season opens Friday, Sept. 7 at home against Coquitlam Express.

The team has two wins and a loss in preseason play, as of Tuesday (Aug. 28), with a win over Chilliwack and a split against Langley. In another exhibition game, the Eagles play Coquitlam at South Surrey Arena on Friday, Aug. 31. The full schedule is posted at surreyeagles.ca.

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