Surrey Eagles head coach Cam Keith is staying in the nest.
On the heels of a first-place finish in their three-team BC Hockey League pod – in which they only lost two games in regulation out of 20 – the junior ‘A’ organization announced Friday that head coach and associate general manager Cam Keith has signed a three-year extension to stick with the club.
In his two seasons at the helm, Keith – who has also had coaching stints with the Chilliwack Chiefs and Trail Smoke Eaters – has guided the Eagles to an overall record of 44-25-9 (win-loss-overtime loss). The team also has one playoff series victory under its belt with Keith on the bench – a come-from-behind win over the Chiefs in 2020. Surrey was set for a second-round battle that year against the Coquitlam Express before the season was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a news release announcing Keith’s signing, general manager Blaine Neufeld was effusive in his praise, calling Keith “the best thing that’s happened to the Surrey Eagles since the glory days of the ’90s.”
“I feel he can bring those same moments back to us here in the present,” Neufeld said, referencing the time period that saw the Eagles advance to back-to-back Royal Bank Cup national championships, winning once.
“(Cam) is a coach who fully understands today’s game and how it continues to morph with the increased speed and skill. His first thought is development and that’s why year after year his team is one that competes for a championship,” Neufeld continued.
“I would also say Cam is one of the best skill developers the Lower Mainland has to offer. He’s already made an impact on local players aspiring to play junior ‘A’ hockey… We’re so fortunate to have Cam as our coach for the next three years. We have an amazing future ahead of us.”
Kieran O’Hearn, who served as team captain this season, also had positive things to say about his coach, noting that he was instrumental in helping the defenceman improve enough that he’s secured a scholarship to Yale University for next season.
“Cam gave me my start in the BCHL and once he traded for me he instilled his confidence in me to become the player I am today,” he said. “I wouldn’t be in the place I am right now without Cam’s help.”
Keith said in the release that he had no desire to seek work elsewhere, noting that he sees eye to eye with team owner Chuck Westgard as well as Neufeld.
“It’s been fun working here. (It’s a) great group of people who support what we’re doing… and I don’t want to walk away from it.”