RIDGE MEADOWS FLAMES HISTORY
Chapter One – North Shore Winter Club Flames
The North Shore Winter Club organized their Junior Hockey program in the spring of 1972, making an application to the West Coast Junior Hockey League for a franchise commencing in the 1972-73 season. This application was rejected for that season with the league governors deciding to remain with the existing clubs.
This did not deter the NSWC group and with the assistance of the BCAHA Junior B Director, they entered the North Island league with the Capilano Winter Club, Port Alberni and Courtenay. The NSWC won the North Island Championship and played off with the South Island Saanich Braves. After winning the Island Championships, they came up against the West Coast Champions, the Nor West Caps (defending Cyclone Taylor Champions) – at the North Van Rec Centre. Unfortunately, they fell to the powerful Caps in two games played before a packed arena for both games.
The following season, 1973-74, saw another application to the WCJHL and acceptance by the league along with Abbotsford Pilots, Burnaby Blazers and Point Grey Blades who were the eventual 1973-74 League Champions. Their home opener was played against the other expansion team, the Burnaby Blazers. The NSWC Flames won the game 4 – 3.
The men behind the organization of the Flames at that time included: Ray Wills, Bill Corcoran, Bill Todders and Gordon Matheson who worked hard and long to bring the NSWC hockey program that all important last stage for its many minor hockey graduates.
The Flames were always a contender in the league and going into the league finals on more than one occasion. The 1981 – 82 season saw the Flames lose in 3 games to the defending B.C. Champions – Seattle North West Americans in the league finals. This was a glimpse of what was to come.
In the 1982 – 83 season, the Flames capped their long nine year endeavour when the well coached and disciplined team won the Cyclone Taylor trophy. That season was the first of three successful League Championships and two trips to the B.C. finals. The WCJHL did not compete in the B.C. playoffs in 1984-85 or l985-86.
Since 1986-87, Ray and Sue Stonehouse have been the guiding light behind the Flames, but there were many before them who met the Flames challenge. Peter Scott, Bill Bowles, Stan Tebbets, Dave Roman, Bob Pedersen, Ed Marring, Loreen Mans, Doreen Tadey, Nick Sita, Bill Bryson, Leo Pouseau, Dave Phillips, Steve Corcoran, Mrs. Wright and many others, including the original group.
Chapter Two – Ridge Meadows Flames
During the summer of 1993 the Flames made a big move East to Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows. Although sad to leave the North Shore Winter Club, which had been their home for so many years, the move to Maple Ridge was met with great enthusiasm from the hockey community and the residents of the area.
Unfortunately their first year in Maple Ridge was not a good one on the scoreboard and the Flames finished last in the league. They followed that disappointing season with a huge rebound in 1994-95, finishing second in the league before eventually going down to defeat in the playoffs to the Richmond Sockeyes.
The 1995 – 1996 season ended once again with the Flames finishing second behind the Richmond Sockeyes. But this season the Flames were not to be denied and they defeated the Port Coquitlam Buckeroos 4 – 3 in the best of seven series and then proceeded to beat the Richmond Sockeyes 4 – 2 to become the PIJHL Playoff Champions. The Flames then hosted the Saanich Braves from Vancouver Island and the Braves went down to defeat in 2 games. Then it was on to the Provincials, held at Cam Neely arena, and the Flames were once again victorious, beating the Castlegar Rebels in 2 games. The Flames then traveled to Sicamous, B.C. to compete in the Western Canadians. They were followed by a huge contingent of avid fans from Maple Ridge who eventually saw the Flames win the Bronze medal. Two players who competed in that tournament have more recently helped coach the Flames – Tavis Eaton and Mike Peat.
1996-97 was a rebuilding year – the Flames finished in fourth place and lost to the Port Coquitlam Buckeroos 4 games to 2 in the playoffs.
1997 – 1998 was a banner year for the Ridge Meadows Flames. They finished first in the league with a 35 wins 7 losses record; went on to defeat the Grandview Steelers in three games and eventually defeated the Delta Icehawks 3 games to 1 to become the PIJHL Playoff Champions. They then went to Revelstoke for the Provincial semi finals and defeated the Revelstoke Grizzlies 2 games to 0. After that, it was back home to the Cam Neely arena for Provincials against the Island winner, Campbell River. The Campbell River team gave the Flames a scare in game one by defeating them 8 – 3. But the next night the Flames came back with a resounding 9 – 1 win and followed that up with a 5 – 2 win to send the Island team home. Back to Westerns the Flames then went for the second time in three years – but this time Westerns were being held in Winnipeg, Manitoba – a but numbing 30 hours bus trip. The terms “character building” and “team bonding” were heard a lot. We arrived the day before the tournament began and got the grand tour of the Bill Mosienko Arena. The Flames emerged undefeated in the tournament, winning the gold medal and the Keystone Cup.
1998-99 the Flames finished second and lost in round one playoffs to the Port Coquitlam Buckeroos 3 games to 1.
1999-00 the Flames finished in sixth place and lost to the Abbotsford Pilots in round one playoffs 4 games to 1.
2000 – 01 the Flames rebounded to finish in second place – 2 points behind the Port Coquitlam Buckeroos. In round one playoffs they defeated the Grandview Steelers 3 games to 1 and then lost to the Delta Icehawks 3 games to 1 in round two playoffs. The Flames hosted Western Canadians that year and went to the final game vs Saskatchewan’s Assiniboia Southern Rebels. The Rebels defeated the Flames 3 – 1, the Flames received the silver medal.
2001-02 the Flames finished in fifth place and lost to the Richmond Sockeyes in round one playoffs.
2002-03 the Flames finished in second place and lost once again (4 games to 3) to the Richmond Sockeyes in round one playoffs.
2003-04 the Flames finished in sixth place and Richmond beat us again in playoffs.
2004-05 the youngest Flames team ever and the youngest PIJHL team put up a valiant effort but finished out of the playoffs.
The summer of 2005, Ray and Sue Stonehouse with sadness decided it was time to let go of the Flames and we wish the new ownership group great success. We hope you enjoy your time with the Flames as much as we have.
We thank all the fans, coaching staff, players and volunteers who have been with us over the past twenty five years. Your enthusiasm for the Flames has made us very proud for having known you and worked with you.
Chapter Three – under construction!!!
Ray and Sue Stonehouse
By Chris MacNeill
The Flames organization has undergone some major changes since the close of last season; one of those significant changes is the acquisition of new ownership. After 25 years of being at the helm Ray and Sue Stonehouse have handed over the reins to a group of five new owners. On behalf of all of the people involved over the years – Thank-you Ray and Sue, it has been a great journey filled and fueled at times by lots of emotions. Our Ridge Meadows Flames are here for our community to enjoy because of the enormous hard work, dedication and passion given by you. Throughout the years Ray and Sue have proven to be leaders with integrity and spirit within the Junior B League.
The Flames were the first to:
- To engage a DJ – Vito Natola. Vito has been with the Flames since the 1988-89 season, at the North Shore Winter Club and when the Flames moved to Maple Ridge so did Vito. Without a doubt he is the best announcer and DJ in the league!
- To engage a singer to sing our National Anthem – Tara Crowther was the first person to sing the Anthem before every home game in our Junior B league.
- 1998 The Flames won all three titles- becoming the only Pacific International Junior Hockey League team to win a Western Canadian championship.
- 1998 The Flames went undefeated at the Westerns.
- To attend the Western Canadian Championships three times and come home with medals.
- The first Junior B team in our league to win a Bronze medal (which I might add that our own assistant coach Tavis Eaton scored the first goal towards attaining that medal)
- The first also to win the Silver and the Gold at the Western Championships level.
- To date The Flames have been the only organization in our league to bring home the Gold.
I have always wanted to write an article titled, Once A Flame Always A Flame because we have had people who played for the Flames at the North Shore Winter Club come out to watch their sons play for the Ridge Meadows Flames. One player – Jason Bloom was quoted on November 3,2000 as saying, “My dad used to play for this team when they were in North Vancouver, back in the days when they were the North Shore Flames. He was the first person to win The Most Valuable Defensemen Award and I won it last year, so I looked at the trophy and sure enough his name was there.” It just goes to show what an outstanding reputation the Flames Organization has held throughout time. One player attending UBC was asked to create a picture of his life using something that depicted his most memorable achievements and although this person played for another team after leaving the Flames organization – it was the Flames Jersey that made the cut!
It must have been difficult for Ray and Sue to pass the Flames Organization onto someone else however I do believe they did it for the right reasons and I do believe that our new owners had to have something that Ray saw as being exceptional in order for them to purchase the team.
It gives me great pleasure to tell you that Ray has been appointed Vice President of the League and Sue with her amazing organizational skills will be the League Scheduler.