The top junior ‘A’ hockey prospects from across the country are coming to Surrey in the new year.
The Canadian Junior Hockey League – the governing body of the BC Hockey League, and other provincial junior ‘A’ circuits throughout Canada – announced Wednesday that the Surrey Eagles will host the 2016 CJHL Prospects Game, which is set for Jan. 26 at South Surrey Arena.
The prospects game is one of the premier junior ‘A’ events on the hockey calendar, and gives selected players the opportunity to play in front of scouts from the National Hockey League, as well as NCAA and Canadian universities and colleges.
“We’re very excited about hosting it,” said Eagles head coach Blaine Neufeld. “It’s a high-end competition and it’s a unique opportunity for us to be able to showcase what we’re doing here as an organization.”
The game also coincides with the team’s 25th anniversary season, which played at least a small part in Surrey being awarded the game.
“There is a great history of junior ‘A’ hockey in Surrey and with this being the 25th anniversary season… it’s the perfect time for them to host a special event like the (prospects game),” said BCHL commissioner John Grisdale in a news release.
The game is now in its 11th year, and was last held in B.C. during the 2011/12 season, when it was held in Langley.
Rosters for the game are selected through a partnership with the participating leagues and NHL Central Scouting, which makes recommendations. Team East will be made up of players from the five eastern CJHL leagues – Northern Ontario, Ontario Junior (Greater Toronto), Central Canada (Eastern Ontario), Quebec and the Maritime Hockey League – while the West will include players from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Superior International (Northwest Ontario) leagues.
Though the Eagles have no hand in roster selection, they may well end up with a player or two on the Team West roster. On Monday, NHL Central Scouting released its list of top draft-eligible players and Surrey forward Ty Westgard was among nine BCHL players on the list. He currently leads the team with six points.
“Ty is on that list, which is exciting, and we have a strong group of good, young players in that 1998-born age group,” said Neufeld, speaking of a group that includes goaltender Daniel Davidson, forward Darren Hards, and blue-liners Trent Huitema and Jeffrey Stewart.