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Experience, youth blending well for Eagles

The old saying goes that offence gets the fans out of their seats but defence and goaltending win championships. If things come together that way Surrey Eagles head coach Shane Kuss hopes they will, he'll be leading a squad with the potential to do both.

The Eagles enter the 2008 regular season with a number of holes to fill up front and a group of willing forwards wanting to prove they can do the job.

“We lost out top six scorers from last season,” Kuss says. “It will be an adjustment for our new guys and our young guys, but I think we have some players who are ready to step up.”

But on their side of centre, the Eagles should pose a stiff challenge for opposition offences. Netminder Tommy Tartaglione, who proved to be a valuable stretch-drive addition in the spring, has returned between the pipes and the team has a core of rock-solid blueliners.

“Goaltending is an area where we feel pretty good,” Kuss says. “Tommy has a lot of experience playing in the WHL, he's played in big games and he's a proven winner.”

Eagles defenceman Ilan Cumberbirch, who Kuss describes as a steadying presence on the squad, was named the team's captain in August. Cumberbirch's play isn't flashy, but he is a smart and reliable player who didn't miss a game in his first season in Surrey.

“Ilan is an all-round team guy,” Kuss says. “He leads by example, he's well-liked in the room and he'll do whatever it takes to win. He really got himself well-prepared for this season and I think he'll be leading a very steady back end for us.”

The Eagles open the 2008 regular season on home ice at 7:00 pm on Friday, September 5th when they host the Langley Chiefs.