The Ridge Meadows Flames start the Pacific Junior Hockey League playoffs tonight, on Wednesday, Feb. 22, with a best-of-seven series against the Mission Outlaws.
“It’s going to be a pretty good test – Mission is one of the older teams in the league,” said Flames GM Derek Bedard.
He noted the teams split the four-game regular season series with two games apiece, adding “they were entertaining, close games.”
The Flames finished in fourth place in the 13-team Pacific Junior Hockey League. They are 100 per cent healthy and are coming off a pair of wins against the top teams in the league. They beat the third-place Richmond Sockeyes 5-2, and then blasted the first-place Langley Trappers 7-2 in their final game on the schedule.
“We’re going in with the right mojo, and eager to get going,” said Bedard.
Mission’s similarly ample mojo saw them riding a seven-game winning streak down the stretch, including two wins over the Flames, until they wrapped the regular season with a loss to Langley.
These teams are assembled differently. The Flames (31-14-2-1) are a young team with elite talent, including seven players who are affiliated with BC Hockey League Teams. They put up 211 goals – good for third in the league, and their power play scores at a league best 30 per cent rate.
For comparison, seventh-place Mission (28-20) has scored 180 goals, and their power play has clipped along at a middling 19 per cent.
However, the Outlaws boast the second-best penalty kill in the league at 83.2 per cent, while the Flames are seventh at 80.1 per cent.
The Flames have elite scorers like rookie Theo Kochan, who has 39 goals and 77 points in 48 games this year, which was good for fifth in league scoring. Jack Foster finished tied for eighth with 22 goals and 70 points in 44 games.
They also have two of the top offensive defencemen on the circuit, as Jakob Loewen was fourth among the league’s blueliners with 11 goals and 46 points in 44 games. Lukas Ravenstein had eight goals and 38 points in 45 games, which was good for sixth among the PJHL rearguards.
Mission doesn’t have any of the league’s top scorers. Chase Newman leads their offence with 20 goals and 42 points in 47 games.
But they have a lot of experience, with 12 players who are 20.
Bedard said the Flames don’t play like a young team.
“We’re a resilient group. As the season has worn on, we’ve played a style that’s harder to play against.”
PLAYOFF SCHEDULE ANNOUNCEMENT:
We are 🔥⬆️ to announce the Harold Brittain Conference Semi-Finals schedule vs the @MissionOutlaws !
Game 1 is exactly 1 week from today!
— Ridge Meadows Flames (@flamesjunior) February 15, 2023
The series will start with the Flames enjoying home ice advantage, hosting the first two games at Cam Neely Arena on Feb. 22 at 8:15 p.m. and Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m.. Then the series will switch to the Mission Leisure Centre for two games on Feb. 25 and 28th.
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