Another gritty effort against one of the Pacific International Junior Hockey League’s top teams has Ridge Meadows Flames Coach Jamie Fiset optimistic about the playoffs, as the junior B regular season winds down.
The Flames have a less-than-impressive record, but they have established themselves as a dangerous team. They don’t carry themselves like a 13-18-5-2 club.
They beat the conference-leading Abbotsford Pilots last week, then Friday took another elite team into overtime. They lost 5-4 to the Delta Ice Hawks (27-8-1-0), but only after the Hawks survived an overtime goal-mouth scramble, where they puck was loose behind their goaltender, and a one-timer from Matt Bissett beat the goalie, but only dented the post behind him.
They were finally undone by a Hawks’ breakaway.
“We went into that game believing we could beat them, and that’s a big change,” said Fiset.
Delta led the game 4-2 after two periods, but the Flames scored twice in the third to force overtime.
“For a hockey fan, it was a great game to watch.”
The Flames have great depth on offence, and had four different scorers: Ryan Lisowsky, Connor Redmond. Chris Nakamura and Travis Oddy. Michael Nolan and Adam Bartsch each had two assists. Wesley McLeod saved 25 of 30 shots.
On Sunday, the Flames lost 6-2 to the Grandview Steelers (17-12-1-1) at Burnaby Winter Club. Bissett and Vitalik Morozov scored, and goaltender R.J. Bruni stopped 24 of 30 shots.
Fiset said his roster was decimated by injuries and suspensions, and the Flames started the game with five regulars missing, and lost two more players to injuries during a game that featured several borderline bodychecks.
On Thursday, the Flames face the Outlaws, at 7:15 p.m. at the Mission Leisure Centre.
Friday night they host a playoff preview, as they take on the Aldergrove Kodiaks (22-13-1-0). The Kodiaks and Flames are locked into second and third places respectively in the Harold Brittain Conference, and will face each other in the first playoff series.
The Flames have not been able to solve Aldergrove yet this year, losing four previous games by an aggregate score of 18-7.
“We need to address Aldergrove,” said Fiset. “They’re very well coached.”
They will meet at 7:30 p.m. at Planet Ice.