Danton Heinen will play next season at the University of Denver.

Danton Heinen will play next season at the University of Denver.

Surrey Eagles’ captain leaving early

Eagles forward Danton Heinen to begin college career this fall, heading to University of Denver.

A key member of the Surrey Eagles has flown the coop a year earlier than expected.

Danton Heinen, who was named the BC Hockey League’s rookie of the year last season after leading the Eagles in scoring with 29 goals and 62 points, will leave the team after just one season to head to the University of Denver Pioneers, one of the top programs in the NCAA.

Heinen committed to the Pioneers during the 2013/14 season, but his start date at the school had not been nailed down, though it was thought he’d return to the BCHL for one more season before flying south.

Instead, he’ll begin his college career this fall.

“It was a very difficult decision to leave the Eagles and I had a lot of fun playing close to home,” Heinen said. “But everything I’ve heard about Denver is that they’ll have a pretty competitive team next season and I want to be a part of it.”

The 18-year-old was the BCHL’s youngest captain last year, when he was given the ‘C’ after the Eagles’ dealt former captain Brett Mulcahy to the Vernon Vipers in mid-season.

His presence in the lineup will be missed next season by the Eagles, who will look to retool their lineup for the 2014 season.

“Danton is a special player and we are excited for the opportunity ahead of him,” said Blaine Neufeld, the Eagles’ direct of hockey operations.

“We wish the utmost success to Danton and now he will represent our program well.”

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