BCHL Next Generation: Surrey Eagles

In the weeks leading up to the start of the 2021-22 regular season, we will be going team-by-team to profile new players coming in for the upcoming year. This will include recaps of offseason commitments and acquisitions, as well as scouting reports from the coaches.

Next up is the Surrey Eagles.

The Eagles ran away with the Coquitlam Pod title in 2020-21, finishing the year with a 17-2-1 record and a league-high 102 goals for in just 20 games.

Like any junior hockey team, the Eagles experienced some turnover from last year’s roster, but have done their best to fill the gaps with a long list of new recruits and some other offseason moves.

Eagles head coach Cam Keith sits down with us to give us the scouting report on the incoming class of players.

New recruits

Grayden Slipec (2005, F)

  • Hometown: Surrey, B.C.
  • Previous team: Burnaby Winter Club Prep (CSSHL U18)

Slipec, whose brother Jacob also plays for the Eagles, had five points in four games in a shortened season with BWC last year. In 2019-20, he led his West Van Academy Bantam Prep team in scoring with 73 points in 30 games. He also led that team in assists with 47. That West Van team also featured several young stars currently playing in the BCHL, including Victoria Grizzlies forward Matthew Wood and Cranbrook Bucks forward Walker Gelbard.

Keith’s scouting report:

“Grayden could potentially be our best player this year. He’s a 16-year-old who is going to be playing like an 18 or 19-year-old. We have a lot of high expectations for him. The challenge for him will be to justify those expectations with his game. We believe it won’t take him very long to figure things out.”

Matthew Roy (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Ottawa, Ont.
  • Previous team: St. Andrew’s College (CAHS)

Roy most recently played in 2019-20 when he had 22 points for St. Andrew’s in 46 games.

Keith’s scouting report:

“He’s a physical two-way defenceman who comes highly recruited from the St. Andrew’s program. He’s a high-character kid. He’s been sought after by a lot of Division I teams already. We’re expecting him to come in and solidify a very young defence corps and bring a bit of experience with his mature game.”

Cole Galata (2002, F)

  • Hometown: Barrie, Ont.
  • Previous team: Summerside Western Capitals (MHL)
  • College commitment: Bentley University (2022-23)

Galata was recruited by the Eagles last offseason and played seven games for the team in the extended training camp portion of the schedule, chipping in with a goal and two assists. He was traded to Summerside of the Martime Junior Hockey League when the BCHL season was in doubt and had 17 points in 17 games, but is returning to the Eagles for the 2021-22 campaign. Two years ago, he was the second-leading scorer for St. Andrew’s College and piled up 123 points in 66 contests.

Keith’s scouting report:

“The Martime league is a very physical league, which matured him in a lot of ways. We’re going to depend on him to take a big step forward and be a top-line guy for us, play on the power play and just have a more go-to role than he did last year when he was here.”

Jake Bongo (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Ridgefield, Conn.
  • Previous team: New Jersey Rockets (NCDC)
  • College commitment: Sacred Heart University (2022-23)

Bongo joined the Rockets midseason last year and produced at nearly a point-per-game pace with 26 in 28 contests.

Keith’s scouting report:

“He’s a playmaking, versatile winger who can play both sides comfortably. He proved he can play on a power play when he was a crucial element of a New Jersey Rockets power play that was one of the best in the NCDC last year. He comes with some high-character references. We believe he can come in and make an immediate impact.”

Luke Roberts (2003, D)

  • Hometown: West Vancouver, B.C.
  • Previous team: Vancouver North East Chiefs U18 AAA (BC U18)

Roberts was supposed to make his BCHL debut in 2021-22, but plans changed when the team was putting together its roster for the pod season last spring and they brought him in early. Roberts played 14 games for the Eagles and contributed two goals and four assists.

Keith’s scouting report:

“We brought Luke in for the pod season and it didn’t take long for him to adjust. We’re considering him a veteran on this young defence corps. He can play the tough minutes in the defensive zone, but can also contribute offensively. We have high expectations for him, not only on the defensive end, but also to contribute offensively.

Oliver Gabrielson (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Vancouver, B.C.
  • Previous team: St. George’s School U18 Prep (CSSHL U18)

Gabrielson had a goal and two assists in a shortened four-game season last year. In 2019-20, he led St. George’s in points from the back end, putting up 19 in 36 games.

“Oliver is a cerebral defenceman who always makes the opposite play of what you think he’s going to make. He’s a kid that, when he’s on his game, you can’t tell if he’s playing forward or defence. He can run a power play and dictate the play by distributing the puck from up top. He’s going to exploit the big ice in Surrey with the way that he sees the game.”

Ben Fontaine (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Maple Ridge, B.C.
  • Previous team: Vancouver North East Chiefs U18 AAA (BC U18)

Fontaine was part of the North East Chiefs program since the 2018-19 season. In his most recent full campaign in 2019-20, he tied for third in team scoring for the U18 team with 40 points in 36 games. That same season, he also got two games of BCHL experience when he was an affiliate with the Coquitlam Express.

Keith’s scouting report:

“Ben is a throwback power forward who enjoys the physical element of the game. We needed a kid that could bring some energy. He’s a natural goal scorer who likes going to the net. We believe he’s going to be a difference maker in those tight games on the road and also in the playoffs.”

Ante Zlomislic (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Coquitlam, B.C.
  • Previous team: Vancouver North East Chiefs U18 AAA (BC U18)

Zlomislic missed out on meaningful game action last year, but in 2019-20, he produced 10 goals and 11 assists for 21 points in 40 games for the Chiefs.

Keith’s scouting report:

“He’s a Pavel Bure-type hockey player. He’s explosive on the rush. He continually keeps is feet moving. He’s very hard to defend in a one-on-one situation. He has a great shot. He’s a very smart player. We’re really hoping he can bring that high-speed attack to the Olympic ice.”

Eli Pulver (2003, G)

  • Hometown: Vancouver, B.C.
  • Previous team: St. George’s School U18 Prep (CSSHL U18)

Pulver made three appearances for St. George’s last year and went 2-0-0 with a.906 save percentage and a 2.41 goals-against average. In 2019-20, he had a .915 save percentage and a 2.59 goals-against average. Pulver has some BCHL experience already as he played a pair of games as an affiliate with the Powell River Kings two seasons ago.

Keith’s scouting report:

“Eli is an extremely intelligent, aggressive and athletic goaltender who is going to be a great support to Max Prazma this year. We have high hopes for Eli to come in, win a lot of games for us and challenge for the number-one spot.”

Joel Plante (2005, F)

  • Hometown: Langley, B.C.
  • Previous team: Yale Hockey Academy U17 Prep (CSSHL U17)

Plante notched seven points in five games in a shortened year with Yale’s U17 team last year. The year before, he had 16 points in 30 games for their U15 squad.

Keith’s scouting report:

“Joel made our team out of spring camp. Every time that we see him, he seems to get better and better. There’s no limits to this kid’s game. He had to earn it at the midget level. He plays like a third or fourth liner, but has the skill level of a top-line guy who is going to mature in the next few years and could become one of the top guys in this league.”

Ty Brassington (2004, D)

  • Hometown: White Rock, B.C.
  • Previous team: Delta Hockey Academy U17 Prep (CSSHL U17)

Brassington only got into one game with his U17 team last year, but in 2019-20, he had three goals and nine assists for 12 points in 33 games for Delta’s Elite 15s team.

Keith’s scouting report:

“Ty is a late-bloomer who grew substantially in the last two years. He was on our radar and we were fortunate enough to get to know him after our season ended. We’re very excited for what he could potentially bring. He’ll naturally fit in with our group, having played with Tait Ross, Tate Taylor and all the other Delta kids that we’ve recruited.”

Trent Wilson (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Tsawwassen, B.C.
  • Previous team: Delta Hockey Academy U18 Prep (CSSHL U18)

Wilson had two points in four games in a shortened 2020-21 season. The year prior, he was the second-leading scorer on Delta’s Elite 15s team with 41 points in 37 games and led them in goals with 18.

Keith’s scouting report:

“Trent is a two-way centre who can also play left wing. He has a great shot. He likes to compete. He can play in the hard areas. He can play with pace. It’s hard to say how he’s going to do as a 17-year-old this year, but we’re hoping he will surprise us and contribute a lot offensively.”

Acquired via trade

Jacob Bonkowski (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Richmond, B.C.
  • Previous team: Powell River Kings (BCHL)

Bonkowski was Powell River’s third-leading scorer as a rookie in last year’s pod season when he produced 16 points in 20 games. He also led the team in assists with 13.

Keith’s scouting report:

“Jacob is a kid that we saw a lot of during the pod season. He’s childhood friends with [Eagles forward] Michael Abgrall and there was some chemistry between them back in their Peewee days. We’re hoping that bringing him in will rekindle that chemistry and replace some of the forwards we lost who we depended on last year in the pod season.”

Photo credits: Dan Hickling (Roy, Galata, Bongo), Garrett James Photography (Roberts, Bonkowski)