Leafs complete blockbuster deal with Ridge Meadows of PJHL
The Nelson Leafs completed a blockbuster trade by Junior B standards Thursday shipping center Austin Lindsay and cash to Ridge Meadows Flames of the Pacific Junior Hockey League for two players — forward Dale Howell and netminder Jason Sandhu.
Leafs Sean Dooley said the coaching staff is confident the two 20-year-olds will be key building blocks Nelson needs to begin building a winner in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
“Howell is a proven scorer in the league which was something we lacked up front last year,” Dooley explained after completing the inter-league deal earlier in the day.
“We know Sandhu and believe he has the ability to be one of the top goalies in the league this season.”
“(Sandhu) is 6’4 so he’s a big body,” Dooley added.
“He had the opportunity to back up in the BCHL this year but Sandhu (along with Howell) want to push for a championship.”
Howell, at 6-foot 170 pounds, finished the season for the Flames with 18 goals and 23 assists in 44 games.
Sandhu, got the bulk of the work for Ridge Meadows in goals, finishing the season with a 9-14 record and a 4.20 goals against average for the fourth-place Flames.
Lindsay, who spent three seasons in Nelson, struggled to find a place in the lineup having been injured for most of the season.
Lindsay played only 19 games for Nelson, finishing with a goal and 10 assists.
“Austin was hurt for most of last season and was uncertain if he wanted to play this year,” Dooley explained.
“Ridge Meadows was willing to take that chance so we cut a fair deal with them.”
Dooley said it was tough to give up on the Kelowna native but thought it would be best for the Leafs to give Lindsay a chance with another team.
“I spoke with Austin prior to the trade prior to moving him out of respect because he’s been with us since he was 16 (years old), Dooley said.
“I told him I wasn’t going to do anything without chatting with him and he thought about it and was ok with the move.”
Nelson, struggled to finish fourth in the Murdoch Division before getting ousted from post season by Beaver Valley, opens the KIJHL season with main camp August 12-15 at the NDCC Arena.
All 20 teams in the KIJHL meet June 24-25 in Osoyoos for the league AGM.