The Ridge Meadows Flames traded away their top scorer and their starting goaltender in a big off-season deal.
Dale Howell, who had 18 goals and 41 points in 44 games last season, was shipped off with Jason Sandhu, who started 24 games for the team last season. He had a 9-14 record, with a 4.20 goals against average and an 0.892 save percentage.
They both go to the Nelson Leafs of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Both are 20-year-olds.
In return, the local Junior B club gets Kelowna product Austin Lindsay.
Flames general manager Jamie Fiset called Lindsay “a really effective two-way forward.”
Two seasons ago he had 16 goals and 33 points in 49 games, but lost most of last season due to injury.
He is 5’11”, 170 pounds, and is also 20 years old.
“He’s 100 per cent now, and ready to go,” said Fiset.
“We feel pretty good about our returning players this year, and our rookie camp was really strong.”
Liam Murphy, who was a rookie last season, was the main backup, appeared in 14 games and had a 6-3 win-loss record. He posted a 3.74 goals against average and .910 save percentage.
“We would expect Murph to come into camp and be in shape and compete for the starting spot,” said Fiset.
The Flames will hit the ice in mid August for tryouts.
• Meanwhile, the Langley Knights of the Pacific Junior Hockey League have relocated to the City of Surrey in time for the 2016-17 season.
The Surrey Knights will play out of the North Surrey Recreation Centre and continue to compete in the Harold Brittain Conference.
This marks the return of junior B to the area. The Surrey Saints were a successful franchise in the WCJHL from 1979-1986.
Fiset said the slightly longer travel time is hardly an issue – the PJHL is the envy of many leagues for the close distances of the teams, and the depths of players in the region, he said.
“We’re happy to see we still have 10 teams in the league,” said Fiset.