The Surrey Eagles are excited to announce that 2001-born defenceman Brett Bliss has committed to the team for the upcoming 2019-20 BCHL season. Bliss comes to the Eagles with a NCAA Division I scholarship to Brown University, and is expected to make the jump to college in the 2021-22 season.
Bliss hails from Chelmsford, Massachusetts and split last season between his Belmont Hill High School club and the Neponset Valley River Rats U18 team. He scored 5 goals and added 9 assists in 30 games with Belmont High and finished with 6 goals and 15 assists in 30 games with his midget team.
“I’m really excited to get started,” Bliss told SurreyEagles.ca in an interview. “I’ve always heard that the BCHL would be a great place for me to develop as a player. After getting in contact with coach Cam Keith I decided that it was the right decision for me and that Surrey would be a great place to play.”
The decision to come and play in the BCHL is part of a long-term plan with the coaching staff at Brown University. Once he got in touch with Cam Keith and talked about his coaching philosophy, it sealed the deal.
“As soon as I started talking to [Coach Keith] I could tell that he was a really good guy and an even better coach. I really liked the relationship that we started to form and I’m really looking forward to this upcoming season.”
With last week’s announcement of Cody Schiavon‘s commitment to Yale University and the addition of Bliss, this ensures that the Eagles will begin the 2019-20 season with at least four defencemen on the roster with NCAA Division I scholarships in hand. The other two recruits are Cade Alami (Providence College) and Owen Nolan (Army).
As the team starts to take shape for the upcoming season, it’s clear that an emphasis has been placed on building up the back end as much as possible. Although it will be a young group, being part of a strong defensive group going forward is something that excites the newest Eagle.
“I think Cam has done a really good job of putting together a solid team for next year and I think it will be really exciting to see where it goes. He’s thrilled about where we’re at, the team that we have so far. We can’t wait for training camp to start.”
Bliss describes himself as a “two-way defenceman” and prides himself on being able to contribute at both sides of the rink. He’s also prepared to play on the Olympic-sized ice, coming from a program that also utilizes the larger surface.
“One of my strongest assets is the way I see plays develop,” Bliss said, further describing his style. “I can help generate offence from the back end. I think that I have a strong shot and pride myself on getting pucks through from the point.”
As a late-2001 birthday, Bliss comes into the season as a first-time eligible player for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Admittedly, he tries to keep those high hopes in the back of his mind, but realizes that the scouting exposure the BCHL offers is an exciting part about making the jump to the west coast.
For now, he wants to focus on the short term. That involves helping the Eagles win games, and developing as a player before eventually making the jump to NCAA Division I hockey.
“I think we have a good, young group that can do something special. I’m excited to see where it goes. I’m just really excited to get started and get this season going.”