After winning the first game of their playoff series against the North Vancouver Wolf Pack, the Ridge Meadows Flames lost four straight to be eliminated for the Pacific Junior Hockey League playoffs.
“It was obviously a steep hill to climb from the outset,” said general manager Derek Bedard.
The Flames lost 5-2 on Saturday night, and 7-2 on Friday on home ice.
At the beginning of the series, Bedard knew that to have a chance against the league’s top team, his squad would need to stay healthy, and win the special teams battle.
Through the series, the Flames lost their two top centres in Eric Bourhill and Nicholas Amsler, who both got in three games, and a top defenceman in Emmett Garrett, who played just two. They were key losses.
Jayden Genberg was the team’s top scorer in the playoffs with a six points in the five games, and Jarod Mackay was second with three goals and four points.
Bedard said that pair, along with rookies Amsler and Ryan Denney, stood out for their post-season contributions.
“Those four had really good playoffs. The points were there, and they brought it every night.”
The team’s top scorer all season was Tetsuya Prior, but he had a quiet playoff with a goal and an assist in all five games.
“Teddy played hard and had opportunities,” said Bedard, adding he was the victim of close checking and getting robbed by excellent goaltending.
Bedard said his team played well in three of the five games.
“Games three and four got away from us, and we didn’t play our game.
“It was an up and down year for us. We had some streaks of really good hockey, and some of really bad hockey.
He felt like his team was better than .500, but the league was strong this year.
“The league was extremely tight. Two of the four playoff series have been upsets.”
The Grandview Steelers eliminated the Richmond Sockeyes and the Langley Trappers beat the Abbotsford Pilots.
The Aldergrove Kodiaks, who finished one point ahead of the Flames in the standings, were tied 3-3 in the series with the Delta Ice Hawks, who finished tied for points with North Van, headed into action on Tuesday night.
Bedard said the Flames were eliminated by the team that is a favourite to take the PJHL championship.
“I would bet a lot of money they will be the team team to win it.”
Bedard plans to be back as GM next season, and has already begun offseason work for the 2019-2020 campaign. Exit interviews with players happen later this week.
He is expecting players will be trying out for Junior A clubs, and some BCHL teams have already contacted him.
“We’re a development league, and people do move up the ladder.”
There are just three 20-year-olds on the roster, however, in Paul Georgeopolous, Kyle Davis and goaltender Paul Tucek, so there is potential for there to be less roster turnover than in past seasons.