Garrett James Photography

Examining the June blockbuster deal between Langley and Surrey

During the second round of the 2023 Fred Page Cup playoffs, the Surrey Eagles lost a close seven-game series to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. Since then, the Eagles have undergone several changes after their playoff exit. One of these changes involved a goaltending trade with the Langley Rivermen.

On June 8, the Eagles traded 2003-born goaltender Eli Pulver, 2003-born forward Conner Schneider, and 2005-born forward Ewan Rennie to the Rivermen for 2003-born goaltender Ajeet Gundarah.

This trade was a big one between two Coastal Conference rivals as Pulver and Gundarah were the starting goaltenders for the Eagles and Rivermen.

Despite rival teams trading with each other, Pulver and Gundarah won’t face off too often. After the Rivermen acquired Pulver, they shipped him to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks for a player development fee.

This article is about the original Pulver-Gundarah trade. It is about who’s involved and what each team gained. We’ll start with the Rivermen.

The nuts and bolts of each team’s acquisition

Since Pulver didn’t stay with Langley, I’ll separate him from the forwards. Schneider split the 2022-23 season between the United States Hockey League’s Madison Capitols and the Eagles. In 32 games in Surrey, Schneider scored six goals and eight assists. He had a goal and an assist in a dozen games with the Capitols.

He is committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha to play NCAA Division I hockey starting in September 2024.

As for Rennie, he committed to the Eagles way back in October 2021 when he was a member of the White Rock Whalers of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. He played one affiliate game for Surrey during that 2021-22 season.

This past season, Rennie got into 36 games for the Eagles as a rookie and posted four goals and six assists.

The only player going to Surrey in this massive trade is Gundarah. He’s been playing for Langley hockey teams since the 2019-20 season. He started with the junior B Langley Trappers that year, and then with the Rivermen since the 2021-22 season.

Gundarah is an outstanding goaltender and has consistently been one of the the Rivermen’s best players. In the 2022 Fred Page Cup playoffs, he backstopped Langley to a Coastal Conference final appearance.

As a rookie during the 2021-22 season, Gundarah’s record was 16-9-2 with a 2.65 goals-against average, a .922 save percentage, and three shutouts. For 2022-23, Gundarah’s record was 13-19-3 with a 2.98 goals-against average, two shutouts, and a .921 save percentage . He was in net for 13 of the Rivermen’s 16 regular season wins.

Trade analysis

For Surrey, the acquisition of Gundarah elevates it. He is on the same level as Pulver and if the trade involved just Gundarah for Pulver, it would be simple.

For Langley, it gets a promising sophomore in Rennie and a player development fee. When the Rivermen traded Pulver to Salmon Arm, the Silverbacks gave them cash.

The Eagles cleared two roster spaces and got a stud goaltender. The Rivermen got two players and some cash. In the end, both teams accomplished several goals with this trade.

Schneider has one more season of junior hockey left while Rennie is eligible for at least two more seasons of junior hockey. As 20-year-olds this season, both Pulver and Gundarah are in their final eligible season of junior hockey.

The Eagles are transforming into a contender and the Rivermen look like they are working on rebuilding their roster. They’ve already recruited three new goalies for 2023-24.

2003-born Max Beckford joins the Rivermen from the Wisconsin Windigo of the North American Hockey League and 2005-born Liam Hallett heads to Langley from St. George’s School Prep team in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League Under-18 division. The Riv also added 2005-born Charlie Tritt, who played with the PJHL’s North Van Wolf Pack. All three will form the Rivermen’s goalie trio next season.

There’s no word yet on who will play with Gundarah as the Eagles have yet to add any other goaltenders during the off-season. Surrey netminder Michael Sochan is a 2002-born player who has now aged out of junior hockey. The Eagles used three affiliate goalies in 2022-23, including 2005-born Jaiden Sharma and 2006-born Garin Wickstrom.