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BCHL Next Generation: Surrey Eagles

All summer we’ll be going team-by-team to profile new players coming in for the 2020-21 season with recaps of offseason commits and acquisitions. We will also have interviews and scouting reports from the coaches.

Next up is the Surrey Eagles.

Last year’s Surrey Eagles team was coming off a last-place finish in 2018-19 and looking to start fresh with a young team. They were also starting fresh with a new head coach when they brought in Cam Keith to take over behind the bench.

When Keith took over last offseason, he and Eagles general manager Blaine Neufeld began rebuilding their roster with younger players with an eye on the 2020-21 season. Their plan resulted in the team gradually improving throughout the season and then surpassing all expectations at the most important time of year.

“Building a younger team, we hoped that we’d be competitive by the end of the year,” said Keith. “How competitive? We weren’t sure. Our model was a two-year plan where we would have a large returning group and the kids would be competitive by playoffs. They definitely overachieved by how they finished with beating Chilliwack in the first round.”

The group they brought in last year wasn’t the most star-studded collection of players, but they mostly all had one thing in common, which Keith feels was an important part of their development.

“We wanted to make sure we recruited the right type of kids that were late-bloomers and not necessarily with Division I tags,” he said. “So they all came in with the same kind of goal of needing a couple of years in the league to earn scholarships and have that internal drive to get better.”

New recruits:

Cole Galata (2002, F)

  • Hometown: Barrie, Ont.
  • Previous team: St. Andrew’s College (CAHS)
  • College commitment: Bentley University (2021-22)

Galata had an incredible year at St. Andrew’s in 2019-20, ending his campaign with 101 points in 54 games, which put him only behind his teammate Mark Hillier for second in the entire league. His 69 assists were tops on the team and in the league.

Keith’s scouting report:

“Cole is amazing. He’s a kid that was very highly-touted. He was one of the leading scorers in all of academy hockey in Eastern Canada. This kid is going to have an immediate impact in the BCHL. Our expectations are very high for him on the offensive end, but he also plays with an edge. He’s someone that likes to stir it up, but he’s also a gamebreaker. He’s going to replace [2019-20 Eagles leading scorer Christophe] Tellier with the way that he can make plays and contribute offensively.”

Holden Cardinal (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Surrey, B.C.
  • Previous team: Delta Hockey Academy (CSSHL)

Cardinal came up through the Delta Academy system, leading the team with 22 goals in his final year with them in 2019-20. As a 16-year-old, he played in four games with his hometown Eagles as affiliate last season.

Keith’s scouting report:

“Holden is a Johnny Gaudreau style of hockey player. What he lacks in size, he doesn’t lack in heart and competitiveness. He’s extremely fast. He plays with a ton of pace, heart and hockey sense. He’s a natural goal-scorer, but can also distribute the puck.”

Tio D’Addario (2002, F)

  • Hometown: Montreal, Que.
  • Previous team: Mount Academy Saints (CSSHLE)

The 17-year-old played last season at Mount Academy in Quebec, finishing second in team scoring with 43 points in 35 games.

Keith’s scouting report:

“Tio’s strength is that he’s good in all areas of the game. He’s an all-around centre. He’s a younger version of Hudson Schandor who was a leader for us last year. He’s a kid that’s extremely competitive, wants to win and pays attention to detail in the defensive area, but he can also contribute in the offensive end.”

Alec Saretzky (2002, F)

  • Hometown: Saskatoon, Sask.
  • Previous team: Saskatoon Blazers (SMAAAHL)

The 18-year-old played the past three seasons for the Saskatoon Blazers U18 program. He’s coming off his best season where he totaled 56 points in 44 games to lead his team.

Keith’s scouting report:

“He’s a heart-and-soul guy who likes to be around the net. On the power play, he’s very comfortable in front. He’s got skill. He’s kind of a late-bloomer who had a really big year last year because he came into his body. Our expectations are that he’s going to play a big role on the right side for us as a power forward, but also a kid that will be expected to score.”

Connor Gatto (2001, F)

  • Hometown: Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Previous team: Islanders Hockey Club (NCDC)

Gatto was a top-five scorer for the Islanders Hockey Club in Tyngsboro, Mass. last year with 40 points in 49 games.

Keith’s scouting report:

“He’s a Florida kid who has hockey sense and creativity. He’s an offensive-style of player who plays with heart and sees the ice very well.”

Matt Connor (2001, D)

  • Hometown: Amherst, N.H.
  • Previous team: Lawrence Academy (USHS-Prep)

Connor was a steady presence on the blueline for Lawrence Academy the past three seasons, finishing last season with a career-high 13 points in 27 games.

Keith’s scouting report:

“Matt is a prototypical big, strong defenceman who defends well and plays a blue-collar style of game. He has an offensive upside to him as well. He likes to jump up in the rush. He’s just a big kid who we’re hoping can play at both ends of the ice.”

Max Prazma (2002, G)

  • Hometown: Calgary, Alta.
  • Previous team: Pacific Coast Academy (CSSHL)

Prazma played in 22 games last season for Pacific Coast and finished the year with a .904 save percentage.

Keith’s scouting report:

“He’s a 6-foot-5 goalie who is also athletic. He’s expected to backup [returning Eagles goalie] Tommy Scarfone this year and give us some big games. We’re grooming him to be the number-one down the road, but he’ll compete for that spot this year as well.”

Photo credits: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images (Galata, D’Addario, Gatto, Connor), Two Point Photography (Cardinal)