The Surrey Eagles are excited to announce the commitment of 2002-born forward Riley Gannon to the team for the upcoming 2019-20 BCHL season. Gannon was the Rookie of the Year in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League last season with the Nanaimo Buccaneers. He was signed after performing as one of the top players at the team’s recent spring identification camp.
At only 16 years old, Gannon scored at more than a point-per-game clip in Junior B. He recorded 21 goals and 29 assists in 46 games, then added another 2 goals and 1 assist in the playoffs. He also appeared in two games with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs as an affiliated player in the 2018-19 season.
Choosing to play in a Junior B league at such a young age is a bit of an unusual path, but the decision was made with a purpose. Gannon felt that playing against much older competition would speed up his development and prepare him to play at a higher level.
“I believe I made the right choice last year going for Junior B because I wanted to play with and against bigger, stronger players,” Gannon said, explaining his decision to SurreyEagles.ca. “That, and the Buccaneers are such a really well-run program. I’m happy with my decision, I thought I had a pretty good season.”
After finishing 9th overall in VIJHL scoring, the results speak for themselves. Gannon completely eclipsed the competition as there wasn’t another 2002-born skater even close to touching his point totals. The next-closest finished tied for 30th with 19 fewer points.
His scoring touch was at the forefront of the Eagles’ 2019 Spring Identification Camp. He thoroughly impressed the staff, with head coach and associate general manager Cam Keith ultimately making the decision to sign him on the spot.
“I think it’s just a great fit for me here,” Gannon said moments after officially committing. “I really like the big ice surface. It creates a lot of open space and I feel like it gives me a chance to protect the puck more.”
For Gannon, who describes himself as “a smaller skilled forward who is quick out of the corners” this is a keen observation. Keith and the rest of his staff have placed a heavy emphasis on speed and skill while assembling the roster for this upcoming season, and this falls right into Gannon’s strengths.
While he understands that he is making a big jump to Junior A, he still wants to be able to make an immediate impact. He will focus on strength and conditioning as he prepares to take on even bigger and stronger opponents next season.
“I’d definitely like to gain a few pounds coming into next season. I played a couple of games with Alberni and it really helped me understand the pace of the league. I feel comfortable stepping right in and I’m excited to get things going here next season because of that.”
Welcome to Surrey, Riley!