Flames both enjoy and endure blowout games

Maple Ridge Flames goaltender Wes McLeod has been literally standing on his head. - Colleen Flanagan
Maple Ridge Flames goaltender Wes McLeod has been literally standing on his head.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan

The Ridge Meadows Flames enjoyed a blowout win, then were on the other side of an embarrassing loss in weekend junior B hockey action.

The Flames hosted the Panthers, the Pacific International Junior Hockey League (PIJHL) whipping boys from Port Moody (5-19-1-0), on Friday night at Planet Ice.

Rookie Michael Nolan scored 35 seconds into the game, the Flames tallied twice more in the first period, then cruised to a 6-1 win.

Nolan scored twice more for a hat trick, and was named the game’s first star.

“We’ve been waiting for this,” said Fiset of Nolan’s offensive outburst.

Nolan has explosive speed. When he’s playing well, he’s tenacious on the puck and a backchecker who frustrates opponents. For Friday’s game he was paired with veterans Vitalik Morozov and Sean Pesut, and played a confident game.

“We know he has it in him – he’s going to be a scorer,” said Fiset.

Marco Ballarin had two goals, Travis Oddy scored, and Morozov and Reece Rivard each tallied two assists.

Goaltender Wes McLeod was almost perfect in net, making 34 saves on 35 shots.

The next night in Abbotsford the Flames took on the top team in the PIJHL, and saw a complete reversal of fortunes in a 7-2 loss to the Pilots (19-6-2-0).

Fiset said penalty killing was his team’s undoing, as they permitted the Pilots to go four-for-five with the man advantage.

“They were winning the battles in front of the net,” said the coach.

His analysis is that the Abbotsford power play is straighforward, with puck movement on the perimeter setting up a point shot, with two big bodies driving for a rebound.

“They’re clinical in their execution,” he said.

He said the Flames were already without injured veteran defenceman Nick Coulter, and then lost another when Rivard got into a fight in the final minute of the Panthers game – meaning he was suspended for the next game against the Pilots.

Fixing the penalty kill may be as simple as having a full roster, said Fiset.

Paul Piluso and Max Metzner scored, while McLeod was pelted with 43 shots, and stopped 36.

With a record of 8-13-2-2, the Flames sit third in the Harold Brittain conference. They played the Delta Ice Hawks (18-6-0-2) on Tuesday night in Ladner, but results were not known in time for publication.

Their next home game will be Friday, when they host the Grandview Steelers (14-12-1-1) at Planet Ice. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.

It will also be the night for the annual Teddy Bear Toss, when fans can bring a new stuffed animal or other toy, and throw it on the ice during intermission. They will be collected and given to children’s charities.

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