Ridge Meadows Flames have offensive stars returning

PJHL Media – Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadow News


The Ridge Meadows Flames are counting the days until the start of their new season in the Pacific Junior Hockey League, and GM Eric Bedard likes the way his roster is taking shape.

There are still players trying out teams at higher levels, and Bedard got the bittersweet news that one of his players was just cut from the WHL Vancouver Giants.

The GM said he was sincerely rooting for Zack Lagrange to make the team, but was also happy to welcome back a forward that will be a weapon in the coming season.

Lagrange played in the annual Giants Quinn vs. Howe Legends Cup game over the weekend – an event that wraps up the Giants training camp, and he had a goal and two assists.

“He had a really good camp,” said Bedard, and noted there is still a possibility that Lagrange could be called up by the Giants.

Lagrange was fifth in scoring on the Flames last season, with 21 goals and 44 points in 42 games. He had a great post-season, he had eight goals and 16 points in 16 games, which was second on the team in both categories.

He is part of a great core of returning Flames.

Theo Kochan, who led the team and finished fifth in league scoring with 77 points in 48 games, is back to take a run at a scoring title. Jack Foster also has that kind of pedigree, with 70 points in 44 games. Jacob Loewen had 46 points in 44 games in his first season, putting him fifth for rookies in PJHL scoring.

So the Flames have returned four of their top five leading scorers from last season’s team, which came within an overtime goal of winning the Stonehouse Cup PJHL championship.

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Team captain Jordan Kujala and starting goaltender Cam Connolly have both aged out, and defenceman Brandon Osborne jumped to the Cowichan Valley Capitals of the BCHL.

But Bedard says the team has a lot of impressive newcomers, including Evan Fedele of Coquitlam – a big forward who has played his last two seasons with the Prince George Spruce Kings. He had 16 points in 80 games in the BCHL, but has chosen to attend school at SFU.

“He’s a really big addition to the group,” said Bedard. “I expect him to be an impactful player for our program. He’s been where a lot of our guys want to go.”

Tyler Blatz is a defenceman who played with the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds of the BCEHL, and joined the Flames in the playoffs last season.

Josh Bettewsorth is a local who played midget last season, and was a top affiliate player for the Flames, getting into five games.

Matthew Candusso is a goaltender from Delta who played with the Valley West Giants in the BCEHL.

Morgan Clark is a defenceman from Maple Ridge who comes from the Delta Hockey Academy, and Bedard said he has a high ceiling.

He said there are numerous other newcomers who have been playing high-level hockey, who will add to the program.

“We’re super excited with where we’re at,” said Bedard, adding there could still be some key players who return to the club from trying out with other teams.

Back as head coach this season will be former NHL player and pro coach Brent Hughes.

“Our coaching staff is as good as any in the country,” said Bedard.

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The Flames will start the season on Wednesday, Sept. 13, in Aldergrove against the Kodiaks. Their home opener will be on Sept. 15 when they host the Surrey Knights at Cam Neely Arena. Game time is 7:30 p.m.