The Surrey Eagles have been sold to new owners, the BC Hockey League announced Wednesday morning.
According to a press release, the junior ‘A’ league’s board of governors has approved the sale of the team from local real-estate developer Chuck Westgard – a longtime fixture on the Semiahmoo Peninsula sports scene – to Surrey businessmen Ron and TJ Brar, who are owners of Evergreen Herbs, a company described as “a leading provider of fresh herbs and vegetables to grocery stores across the country.”
“My brother and I were born and raised in Surrey and that’s where our passion for hockey first started,” said Ron Brar.
“Our love for community and family has always played a significant role in our lives. The Surrey Eagles will allow us to continue to grow and to give back to our cherished community.”
“We want to encompass our priorities around hockey, academics, community and most importantly, building new leaders,” added TJ Brar. “We are grateful to Chuck Westgard and the BCHL family for allowing us to be a part of the best junior hockey program in Canada.”
The news release notes that the sale was approved last weekend, and that the new owners will continue to operate the Eagles out of South Surrey Arena.
Westgard – who is a member of the Delta Sports Hall of Fame and was also the head coach of the White Rock Renegades ‘91 softball team that is in the Softball BC hall – bought the Eagles from Ronnie Paterson and Ralph Berezan in 2010 in a joint effort with two of his childhood friends – former National Hockey League defenceman Gary Nylund and Scott Bradley, who is an assistant general manager with the Boston Bruins.
In 2014, he bought out his partners to become the sole owner/president of the team.
“The last 12 years as owner of the Surrey Eagles has been quite a ride,” said Westgard.
“From the first season in 2010-2011, the RBC Cup in 2013, right through this final season, our goal has always been the same. We wanted to provide a safe and enjoyable place to live and play for all of our players, and to provide the best coaching possible to give them every opportunity to chase their dreams in the sport they love. Most importantly, we wanted the players to develop as individuals to become contributing members of society.”
“The time has come to hand the team over to a new ownership group, full of energy and enthusiasm, to continue the proud tradition of the Surrey Eagles. I am confident the Brar brothers will carry forward that tradition well into the future.”
Graham Fraser, owner of the Penticton Vees and chairman of the BCHL’s board of governors, called Westgard “a great asset to our league in his 12 years as owner of the team.”
“We wish him nothing but the best going forward.”
On the ice, the Eagles have had both highs and lows under Westgard’s watch. The team won a BCHL championship and advanced all the way to the junior ‘A’ national championships – then called the RBC Cup – in 2013, but also had back-to-back seasons of single-digit victories and record losses, at one point winning just 16 of 116 games over a two-season span.
However, more recently, the team has found success under head coach and associate general manager Cam Keith. During the BCHL’s pod season last spring – in which groups of teams played only each other – the Eagles finished with a 17-2-1 record (win-loss-overtime loss), and this season, Keith guided the league’s youngest team to an above .500 record and a spot in the playoffs, though they were swept in the first round by the Nanaimo Clippers.