1997-98 South Surrey Eagles
Induction Year: 2019
Just a few months removed from a heartbreaking loss in the championship game of the 1997 Royal Bank Cup, the South Surrey Eagles entered the 1997-98 season as somewhat of a wild card. They had only seven returning players from the previous year’s team. They were without not only their former head coach, who had left to join the staff of the Western Hockey League’s Tri-City Americans, but also their entire first line, which was led by future NHLer Scott Gomez and combined for an astounding 377 points the previous year.
With new personnel in charge including Mark Holick (Head Coach) and John Short (Assistant Coach), the 1997-98 Eagles cruised through the BCJHL regular season with 43 wins and only 15 losses. Holick recalls the team as being incredibly tight-knit and incredibly confident.
Once playoffs arrived, the Eagles took an impressive 12-1 win/loss ratio over 3 series, eventually defeating the Penticton Panthers in the BCJHL league final. However, in order to be crowned provincial champs, the team had to play an extra playoff series that year against the Cranbrook Colts of the recently folded Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League, in which they were victorious once again.
After dispatching Cranbrook, the Eagles went north to the Edmonton area to square off against the Alberta-champion St. Albert Saints, who future NHLer Mike Comrie led. It was during this series that the Eagles were truly tested. After 2 games the Eagles found themselves down 2-0 in the series and heading back to Surrey to play the next 4 games. Upon returning home the Eagles rallied immediately and won the next 4 straight, winning the series 4 games to 2. From there, the Eagles maintained their momentum and remained undefeated all the way through to the championship game of the RBC Cup.
On May 10, 1998, the South Surrey Eagles faced off against the Weyburn Red Wings in the final game of the Royal Bank Cup National Championship in Nanaimo BC. Goaltender Peter Wishloff backstopped the team to a 4-1 victory, earning player-of-the-game honours for the effort, and the 1997-98 South Surrey Eagles were crowned national champions of Junior A level hockey in Canada.