SURREY — The old barn hasn’t seen junior hockey like this in some time.
At Rink #1, the oldest of three at North Surrey Recreation Centre, Surrey Knights took to the ice at their new home for the first time on Tuesday morning (Sept. 6).
Players and coaches of the Junior B team prepped for their home- and season-opener Thursday (Sept. 8) against Mission City Outlaws.
Game time is 7:45 p.m., as it will be every Thursday evening this fall and winter.
The rink’s new ice covers a freshly painted Knights logo.
So far, Knights GM Amar Gill seems pleased with the team’s move to the facility from Langley’s George Preston Arena over the summer.
“The rink (in North Surrey) has some history, for sure, and we have a lot more than we thought we would – a good dressing room, a lounge area for players, it’s coming together,” Gill told the Now.
“I think everyone around here is pretty excited about this, having a junior team here.”
(SCROLL TO BOTTOM FOR VIDEO)
The Knights play in the Pacific Junior Hockey League, which involves 10 clubs at rinks from North Vancouver to Abbotsford.
The Knights were essentially forced out of Langley in the fallout of the Vancouver Giants’ move to Langley Events Centre for the coming WHL season. With the Junior-A Rivermen now at George Preston, in the Brookswood area, the Knights came to North Surrey.
“It came down to availability, and we did look at Surrey Sport and Leisure Centre, the third arena there in Fleetwood, but North Surrey made sense for us,” said Gill, who lives in the Fleetwood area.
“Surrey Minor (hockey association) has been great, the City of Surrey, too, and the rink guys,” he added.
“I know people talk about the Eagles but that’s way out in South Surrey. They’re a Surrey team, yes, but they’re not in what I’d call the hub of Surrey, which is North Surrey. They’re trying to change that area with city hall and all the highrises going in now, so we’re pretty excited about all that, being downtown like that. It’s a good location for us.”
On the ice, the Knights are looking to rebound after a pretty horrible 2015-16 season.
A year ago in Langley, the team was involved in a bench-clearing brawl that resulted in a six-year suspension for head coach John Craighead, who continues to be the team’s majority owner.
Paul Whintors took over as bench boss, and will continue in that role in Surrey.
He’ll look to a few Surrey-raised players, including the returning Dosange twins, forwards Jeevan and Kiret, to add grit, leadership and scoring.
Admission is free for the Knights’ season-opener on Thursday (Sept. 8). During the season, tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids and free for Surrey Minor players in their jerseys. For schedules, scores and team roster, visit Surreyknights.ca.