The Ridge Meadows Flames expect to return a strong hockey team next season, as their Junior B league officially turned the page on the 2021 campaign.
On Monday, the Pacific Junior Hockey League board of governors officially ended the season. In a normal season, two teams would be facing off for the league championship, but in this COVID-marred year they were still waiting to get the season going.
“Time ran out. You look at the calendar, and facilities are taking their ice out and getting ready for lacrosse,” said Flames GM Derek Bedard.
Despite the loss of competition, he said the season wasn’t a complete write-off for the team.
“We had 106 practices this year, so I wouldn’t frame it as a disaster,” said Bedard, adding that there was great attendance for the on-ice sessions. “Our guys really made the most of it.”
His main regret was for the graduating Flames – Emmett Garrett, Jayden Genberg and Nicholas Thompson.
“It’s hard for those 20-year-olds, and that’s who I really feel for – them and their families who don’t get to watch them play a final game.”
With just three players moving on, and a tight-knit group he expects to see back on the ice at Cam Neely Arena next season, the Flames should be tough next season.
“We’re excited about the future,” said Bedard. “Guys are already talking about next year.”
Throughout the 106 practices, he said there were no positive COVIFD-19 tests in the organization.
PJHL teams were started games on Oct. 2, 2020, but as the pandemic progressed, public health orders halted all game play on Nov. 8, 2020.
“Ending the season now allows for teams to look ahead to 2021-22 and plan for what we hope will a full season this fall,” said a press release from the league’s board of governors. “We are ready to move forward from a disappointing and challenging 2020, and are looking forward to a fresh start.”
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