Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Three's Company

Left to right: Mackie, Stenerson, Morley.
Roster turnover is an accepted reality for a BCHL team. Whether it’s due to young stars leaving for opportunities in college hockey, or 20-year-old players graduating from the league, a team rarely looks the same two years in a row. This season is no different for the Surrey Eagles, but there are a handful of familiar faces returning to don the blue, white and green – most notably Brandon Morley, Michael Stenerson and Colton Mackie.

The three forwards are all entering their third full season with the Eagles, and they are the only current players who have played in Surrey for that length of time.

Head Coach and General Manager Matt Erhart has guided the three youngsters through their first two years of junior hockey, and he expects the trio to grow into the team’s core leaders this season.

“They’ve spent a couple of years here underneath a pretty good group of leaders,” said Erhart. “Now those guys have moved on, and the team falls on their shoulders, and it’s up to them to take charge of it.”

Morley, a native of Burnaby, broke into the league at the age of 16 playing alongside his older brother Tyler. But with Tyler gone to Alaska on an NCAA scholarship, Morley now finds himself a major part of the team’s leadership group.

“Now that it’s your third year you realize that guys are starting to look up to you,” said Morley. “Hopefully I can help as much as I can and take my experience and pass it on.”

The 18-year-old is looking forward to taking on this new challenge with Stenerson and Mackie.

“They’re both great character guys so they’re going to help lead this team,” said Morley. “It’s nice having the same guys that you’ve been with for the last two seasons coming back for a third season.”

While the trio has played together for the last two years, the connection between Mackie and Stenerson goes back much further. Both players grew up in Surrey and played on the same teams throughout minor hockey.

“I’ve been playing with Mackie since I was 10 or 11 years old,” said Stenerson. “We became pretty good friends, and we’ve played together on pretty well every team ever since.”

While the two forwards don’t usually play on the same line, the friendship they share helped them make the initial jump to junior hockey together, and they hope the same will apply as they take on increased responsibility with the Eagles this year – an opportunity they are both relishing.

“The returning guys, we definitely have to step up, and we’ll have bigger roles to fill,” said Mackie. “I’m looking to get a little more vocal in the dressing room and have a little more say in some things, so it’s definitely a role that I’m excited to take on.”

“This year, I realize what it takes to win and battle,” said Stenerson. “I think I can help out the younger guys with being in those situations like I was in my first year.”

The Eagles have high expectations for the 2012-2013 season, and Morley, Mackie and Stenerson are hoping to be a part of something special in Surrey this year.

“I think we can go all the way,” said Mackie. “The way it’s shaping up, we’re going to take one game at a time, but the goal is to win a championship.”

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