For his final year of high school, Dylan Houston has chemistry on his mind.
He wants to join his hometown Stettler Lightning and rekindle the fire — chemistry — he had with his former midget linemates, twins Adam and Scott Ternes.
“That’s the main reason, pretty well, coming back home, is I want to play with them again,” Houston said Monday, a week before the Lightning open their Heritage Junior Hockey League training camp.
Houston, 17, was a Lightning opponent last season as a rookie with the Three Hills Thrashers in the junior B league.
He also played a handful of games with the junior A Canmore Eagles — and was expected to attend the AJHL team’s training camp, beginning this weekend.
He believes, though, that junior A can wait until he’s finished his studies at William E. Hay Composite High School in Stettler.
“(The Eagles) were pretty interested,” he said. “But I think I might stay home and play Lightning this year with the twins, and stay home for Grade 12.
“I’m thinking that after (high) school, if they’re still interested, I might go back there.”
Houston and Adam Ternes attended Canmore’s spring camp this past spring.
Houston began last season with the Eagles, but ended up in junior B.
“I just came home and I thought I was going to play Lightning, but they already had the twins, and you’re only allowed two 16-year-olds, so I just decided to go (to Three Hills) to play for the year,” said Houston, who was a teammate of Stettler’s Jacob Hamel and Castor’s Michael and Aaron Neumeier with the Thrashers.
Despite his youth, Houston was the fourth-leading scorer with Three Hills, a .500 team. He netted 10 goals and 24 points in 33 games.
Houston believes his production could have been even greater if he had been playing alongside the Ternes brothers. The trio formed a dominant line in minor midget AAA with the 2012 provincial champion Red Deer IROC Chiefs.
Last season, all three of them gained junior experience as young guns among players as old as 21.
The Ternes boys finished among the Lightning’s top seven scorers — Adam had seven goals and 23 points in 36 games, while Scott netted nine goals and 17 points in 38 games.
“We had a couple of ice sessions last week, just to scrimmage,” said Houston, who has been working as a landscaper this summer.
“This year should be pretty good for skill, overall.”
Houston said there’s also talk that skilled defenceman Dylan Muhlbach might return to Stettler’s lineup this season. Muhlbach left the Lightning last winter to play senior at home in Big Valley, while commuting from college in Calgary.
One of Houston’s Three Hills teammates, Hamel, is another prospect in the mix.
“I think he’s going to try out for Lightning,” Houston said. “If he makes it, he’s going to stay, but if not, he’s going back to Three Hills.”
Stettler’s training camp runs next Tuesday through Thursday (Aug. 27-29), with on-ice sessions at 7:30 each night. Anyone wanting to try out is asked to register at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Stettler Recreation Centre.
Playing in Stettler represents a homecoming of sorts for Houston, who skated out of town for his midget years in Red Deer and his first junior season at Three Hills.
“It’s going to be nice to be playing for the hometown crowd, finally,” he said.