The Surrey Knights’ season ended on a low note, but the junior hockey franchise has high hopes next year as a tenant at the new North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex.
Starting next fall, the Pacific Junior Hockey League (PJHL) team will play home games in the three-sheet arena, currently under construction.
On social media, team co-owner and coach John Craighead announced the news Thursday evening (Feb. 7), following his team’s 16-0 loss to Ridge Meadows Flames at the aging North Surrey Recreation Centre, the Knights’ home since the start of the 2016-17 season.
“With humble heart I’m proud to announce the Surrey Knights Junior Hockey Club’s new home,” Craighead posted on Twitter with renderings of the new rink. “Thank you to our community and the City of Surrey for your ongoing support.”
With a humble heart ❤️ I’m proud to announce the Surrey Knights Junior Hockey 🏒 Club’s New Home. Thank you to our community and the City of Surrey for your ongoing support 🙏🏿 pic.twitter.com/VcTjupMpeJ
— J. Craighead (@j_craighead) February 8, 2019
Reached Friday, Craighead said the franchise is looking forward to a fresh start at the new complex, following three losing seasons since moving to Surrey from Langley, a suspension that prevented him from operating the team for two years, and a protracted legal dispute with league operators.
“New jerseys, new building, new start, and a place where we can actually recruit players to play,” Craighead said. “This is part of our bigger vision, a long-term goal to get into a new facility and use it as a draw.
“This will be the first summer where I can actually go out and recruit players,” he added.
Craighead said a City of Surrey official informed him that despite another junior hockey team being keen to play home games at the new arena in Bridgeview, the Knights have been chosen as the lone such tenant there.
Surrey-based Lark Group is building the new complex, targeted for opening this summer at 12780 110th Ave., a kilometre southeast of Pattullo Bridge.
“The new ice complex is designed as an welcoming arena with amenities in line with emerging trends, boasting three sheets of ice, community meeting spaces, outdoor activity areas and venue opportunities on site to support large events,” the company says in a website post.
The value of the company’s design-build project is listed as $47 million, the size described as “triple sheet across 120,000 sq. ft.”
2018/19 Surrey Knights! pic.twitter.com/QLnMJYk4BD
— Knights Hockey (@SurreyKnights) February 7, 2019
With a rookie-laden lineup this season, the Knights won twice in 44 games. They scored 78 goals while giving up 344.
Truman Chiu led all Knights in scoring with 26 points in 29 games played, followed by Dryden Valade’s 24 points and Michael Penman’s 23. Goaltender Naveen Kainth, who played the majority of minutes in net, faced 1,402 shots and saved 1,194 of them, for a save percentage of .852. Valade, a rookie forward, served 160 penalty minutes this season, second most in the league behind the 168 given to Grandview Steelers D-man Cole MacEwen.
The team’s second win of the season was earned on Jan. 24, when Kainth stopped 50 of 52 shots to help the Knights to a 6-2 win over the visiting Mission City Outlaws.
Craighead said the Knights will soon host a prospects camp for new recruits.
“We’ll have open tryouts, and all of our current players know they’ll have to earn their spot on this team next season,” he said.