The Ridge Meadows Flames scored just one goal on Friday night, as they have in each of their past four games, but this time they got the win.
The Flames shut out the Abbotsford Pilots at MSA Arena in a 1-0 effort, to end a four-game losing streak.
Jack Stradiotti got the win in net, and was perfect in a 32-save shutout. It was his second in 42 games in the Pacific Junior Hockey League for the former Richmond Sockeye.
“He made the saves when we needed them. The goalies both played really well,” said Flames coach Bayne Ryshak.
He added that the defence did a great job of clearing rebounds, and not giving up premium chances.
The game was headed for a scoreless tie, until the Pilots took two late penalties, and gave the Flames a five-on-three man advantage. Ridge made them pay, scoring with just 11 seconds left in regulation.
Defenceman Ryan Wellburn got the game winner for the Flames, ripping a well-placed shot through a tangle of players in front of the net.
“Welly did a good job of getting it on net, and he’s the hero,” said Ryshak.
The 18-year-old out of Langley collected his fifth goal and 16th point in 15 games, leaving him third in team scoring.
He has emerged as a leader on the blueline for the Flames in his second season. Although Ryshak did not want to overstate the importance of any single player, the team’s four-game losing streak did coincide with Wellburn missing more than two weeks with a lower body injury.
With the win, the Flames improve to 11-9, and sit in third place in the PJHL’s Harold Brittain Conference.
There was some bad blood developing between the Flames and Pilots in the later stages of Friday’s game, said Ryshak. The five-on-three was set up by a vicious body check that resulted in a five-minute major for targeting the head. Then Brad Crompton was issued a vicious crosscheck in front of the net, to put the Pilots down five-on-three.
So the coach anticipates that neither team will be turning away from hits when they next meet, and that won’t be long.
The Flames will take on the North Vancouver Wolf Pack on Friday night at Cam Neely Arena, and then have a rematch with the Pilots on Saturday night in Abbotsford.