The Ridge Meadows Flames start their 2022-23 Junior B campaign tonight, with their home opener against the Mission City Outlaws.
The Flames have had significant off-season turnover on their roster, with numerous graduating 20-year-olds from last year’s team that was one of the elite in the Pacific Junior Hockey League. Gone are dominant scorers Nicholas Amsler and Ryan Denney, and 11 total 20-year-old players.
Returning is head coach Brent Hughes, a former NHL player who has coached at professional levels, along with an impressive cast of assistants that includes Mike Legg, Brett Sonnee and Bobby Vermette.
GM Derek Bedard said the Flames coaches stack up with junior coaching staffs at any level in the province.
He likes his team.
“We lost a lot of pieces, but we like our foundational players, and we’re bringing in high-calibre athletes,” said Bedard. “We love the guys we’ve got.”
The team has some key returnees, not the least of which is the newly appointed team captain Jordan Kujala. The forward out of Maple Ridge has played 61 games with his hometown Flames, and last season broke through with 14 goals and 26 points in 35 games played. Now 20, he first played with the Flames as an affiliate player at 16.
TEAM CAPTAIN ANNOUNCEMENT:
We are proud to announce our 2022/23 team captain, Jordan Kujala!
Jordan is our longest serving athlete, as he was an “AP” with us as a 16 year old. He is a culture carrier and exhibits daily what it means to be a Flame!
— Ridge Meadows Flames (@flamesjunior) September 15, 2022
Another key guy on the roster is Jack Foster, 19, a Maple Ridge boy who posted 17 goals and 42 points in just 32 games during his rookie season last year.
Pitt Meadows product Zack Lagrange is a 17-year-old who also had a great rookie season. He posted 18 goals and 41 points in 44 games last year, which was tied for first among all 16-year-olds in the league.
Both he and teammate Cohen Muc had great camps in with the Chilliwack Chiefs this year, are affiliate players, and are sure to build on their successes last season. Muc posted 10 goals and 23 points in 41 games.
Brendan Chabot, who just turned 20, is yet another hometown boy who could take a step this season, after posting 15 goals and 31 points in 38 games last year.
On defence, Surrey’s Lukas Ravenstein, who posted 17 points in 39 games last season, is a rare returning blueliner along with Langley’s Linden Perry.
The blueline is in the process of being rebuilt with promising rookies.
We are proud to announce that we have committed to Colby Makinen (D-2004)! Colby is from Maple Ridge and played RMMHA U18 A1 last season.
2021/22 stats: 2G + 15A = 17pts in 35GMs.
Welcome to the Flames Colby!
— Ridge Meadows Flames (@flamesjunior) September 14, 2022
The goaltending appears to be in good hands with Cam Connolly returning. The big backstop out of Cloverdale had 15 wins to seven losses last season, while allowing a 2.61 goals against average, and posting a save percentage of 0.915.
Pushing him will be Darian Moberly, a 17-year-old out of Chilliwack. He put up fantastic numbers with the Delta Hockey Academy last season, going 15-1 with a 2.05 GAA and .913 save percentage.
“We’ve got two very good goaltenders,” said Bedard.
The game goes tonight at Cam Neely Arena, with a 7:30 p.m. start, and Fridays at 7:30 p.m. are again the Flames’ regular home games this season.