The Ridge Meadows Flames beat a key conference rival on Friday night, doubling the Abbotsford Pilots 6-3 in front of Maple Ridge fans at Cam Neely Arena.
Hometown boy Ryan Denney led the scoring with a goal and two assists, while Eric Bourhill scored twice and was selected the player of the game.
“That was a good night at the office for him,” said GM Derek Bedard, noting Bourhill is playing just his second game of the season after dealing with a food injury.
Bourhill scored off a partial breakaway when he picked a top corner for one goal. On the second, he broke in on a two-on-one rush with Tetsuya Prior, and one-timed a cross-ice pass upstairs. The Surrey sniper had 22 goals and 44 points in 30 games last season, and Bedard noted it is good to have him back in the lineup.
Nicholas Amsler and recently acquired Nate Castonguay each had a goal and an assist.
Amsler, also from Maple ridge, is having a great season, with 10 goals and 26 points in 13 games. That moves him up to second in scoring in the Pacific Junior Hockey League, behind only Lucas Barker of the North Vancouver Wolf Pack who has 30 points in 14 contests.
“He’s had a great year so far. He’s an assistant captain and has taken on a leadership role,” said Bedard. “His hockey IQ is high, he’s naturally gived and a great distributor, but he’s also got a great shot.”
Castonguay is off to a fast start with his new team. The Junior B veteran out of Mission now has three goals and seven points in six games, which is way ahead of his career pace of 0.6 points per game dating back to 2015-2016 with his hometown Outlaws.
He played on a new-look line with Bourhill and Prior, and the GM said it was an exciting line to watch all night.
“We got production from our top lines, which is what we want.”
Rookie Elliott Marshall got the win in goal, as he made 31 saves on 34 shots, after staring down nine Pilot power plays on the night. Marshall now has a record of 5-4 in his junior B career.
“He played really well. Two of the three goals were on the power play,” assessed Bedard.
“We made it tough on ourselves with some undisciplined penalties,” he said, adding that playing 18 minutes shorthanded is not a recipe for success over the long term.
The victory put the brakes on a two-game losing skid for the Flames. They are tops in the Harold Brittain Conference with a record of 8-5, and have gone 5-2 at The Cam. The loss dropped the Pilots, who have been first or second in the conference for the past four seasons, down to 5-8. They have now lost six straight.
“We’ve had a longstanding rivalry with them for sure, so it was nice to get that win,” said Bedard.
The Flames won’t play at home again until next month. They are at Aldergrove to take on the Kodiaks on Wednesday, and then next weekend will give up their regular Friday night home game for a rematch with the Pilots at Abbotsford’s MSA Arena.
Their next home game will be Nov. 1, when they host the Delta Ice Hawks.