Flames get off to hot start to open season

Young team earns three of four points with tie against Grandview and win against North Vancouver

Ridge Meadows Flames forward Dale Howell

Ridge Meadows Flames forward Dale Howell

Ridge Meadows Flames coach Jamie Fiset said an upgrade in goaltending was going to one of the keys for his team to take the next step in the Pacific Junior Hockey League. So in the summer, he went out and traded for North Delta minor hockey product Tyler Read.

After a successful opening weekend, it looks like that move is paying off.

The Flames snagged three of a possible four points on Friday and Saturday, backed by the steady performance by Read between the pipes.

The Flames went on the road Saturday and beat the North Vancouver Wolf Pack 3-2 a night after storming back in the dying seconds to salvage a 4-4 tie against the Grandview Steelers in the team’s home opener.

“It was a nice way to open the season,” said Fiset, “especially with the comeback on Friday night.”

Read faced 35 shots Saturday night against the Wolf Pack, 19 coming in the third. The North Van squad tried desperately to even the game after the Flames had built a 3-0 lead, but Read and his teammates were able to hold off the barrage to register their first win of the season.

“We were definitely the better of the two teams in the first two periods. But our forecheck wasn’t as aggressive in the third and they were able to move the puck through the neutral zone and get some scoring chances.”

Fiset said Read stood tall for his team and his defence blocked shots when they had to.

The Flames opened the scoring a minute and three-seconds into the second period on an unassisted goal from sniper Marco Ballarin. Jordan Rendell of the Flames extended their lead to 2-0 in the second when he scored a power play marker off a feed from Travis Oddy and Nicolas Coltura at the 16:40 mark.

Oddy put the Flames up 3-0 three minutes into the third with helpers from Coltura and Vitaly Morozov before the Wolf Pack shifted the attack, pressuring the Flames with a constant barrage of shots.

The Wolf Pack cut the lead to 3-1 at the 6:41 mark. They made the contest real interesting with goal with just  2.27 seconds left as Flames MacLean Hewitt was serving a roughing minor.

But the Flames goalie Read was able were able to withstand the barrage of rubber and hold on for the win.

Read’s heroics came a night after teammate Brandon Inwood scored with 45 seconds left in the third to draw the Flames even at 4-4 against the Steelers in their home opener.

“We were just talking about pulling our goalie and the next thing you know the puck is in the back of the net,” said Fiset. “It was a real confidence booster. We’ve got a real young team, so it was a nice to battle back.”

The Flames trailed 4-2 heading into the third before Morozov put them within a goal, scoring on the power play at the 7:46 mark off a feed from Coltura and Dale Howell. Howell registered the Flames’ first goal of 2013 season on the power play just 3:26 seconds into the game before the Steelers replied with two goals in 21 seconds with just under 13 minutes in the opening period.

The Flames rallied to tie the game at 2-2 with 7:18 left in the period on a tally by Trevor Sutton, with Morozov registering the only assist. The Flames gave up two goals on 10 shots in the second to fall behind 4-2 before its dramatic comeback in the third.

Fiset said his team needs to work on its consistency as the season move forward. He said in both games the Flames built leads only to sit back and watch them evaporate.

“We need to have the same intensity for 60 minutes. But that’s part of the learning curve with a young team. It’s going to take some time.”

Up next

The Flames vs. the Aldergrove Kodiaks Wednesday, Sept. 18. Game time is 7:15 p.m. at the Aldergrove Community Arena.

• The Flames next home game is Friday, Sept. 20 against the Mission City Outlaws at Planet Ice at 7:30 p.m.

• The Flames vs the Abbotsford Pilots Saturday, Sept. 21 at the MSA Arena at 7:15 p.m.