A pair of key additions to the Ridge Meadows Flames had a big impact Friday night as the Flames defeated the Mission Icebreakers 7-4 for their first home win of the season.
Matt Bissett registered a team-leading five points Friday night in his second game with the Flames this year, while Danny Brandys, the Flames’ leading scorer last season, had four points in his debut with the team this season.
The pair were lined up with Sean Pesut, who had three assists, giving the team a potent first line for the first time this season.
“The three of them together on a line is going to be hard for a lot of teams to stop,” said Tavis Eaton, head coach for the local junior B hockey club.
The offensive output has been a welcome relief for the Flames, who have struggled to score so far this year. In the 11 games prior to Friday’s meeting with Mission, the Flames managed just 17 goals.
“It’s been a tough go this season so far, so you learn to take the good with the bad,” said Eaton. “We’ve lost a few players from the start of the season, so getting [Brandys and Bissett] back makes a big difference. It will take the pressure off the other guys, hopefully.”
Bissett joins the Flames after starting the season with the junior A Trail Smoke Eaters. Brandys, meanwhile, had work commitments that kept him out of the lineup.
“I think we’ve turned a corner, but we’ll have to see how it goes,” Eaton said.
Despite the newfound scoring, the Flames defence and goaltending have continued to be problematic. Starting goaltender Tyler Klassen left the team early this season, and Jordan Eggert has managed just a 5.79 goals against average since taking over the starting job.
Combined, the team has allowed an average of 6.33 goals against per game.
“Everyone has to be better, our defence as well as our goaltenders,” Eaton said. “We were still giving up far too many quality scoring chances [Friday night].”
To that end, the Flames have also added defenceman Joe Szabados from the Campbell River Storm of the junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League to help shore up the team’s blueline. Szabados is from Maple Ridge and registered an assist in his first game with the Flames on Friday.
Eaton hasn’t ruled out further roster changes, either by trade or signing.
“We’re always looking to make our team better,” he said.
The Flames put together their best 60-minute effort of the season Friday as they overcame a late Mission lead to win at home for the first time this season.
A pair of power play goals from Bissett and Paul Piluso in the first period gave the Flames a 2-0 lead. The Icebreakers scored midway through the second to draw within one, but another powerplay goal by Bissett helped the Flames regain their two-goal lead.
That lead would be short-lived, however, as Mission scored three unanswered goals to take a 4-3 lead with less than seven minutes to play.
The Flames then responded with four goals of their own, including Bissett’s third of the night, taking total control of the game in the final minutes.
The Flames outshot the Icebreakers 40-26, while going three-for-seven on the powerplay.
Brandys finished with two goals, while Shane Harle had one. Bradley Wardner had a pair of assists, while Alexander Smith had a single helper.
With the win, the Flames passed the Icebreakers in the Pacific International Junior Hockey League’s Harold Brittain Conference, taking sole possession of fourth place with a record of 2-10.
• The Ridge Meadows Flames host the Delta Ice Hawks this Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Planet Ice in Maple Ridge.