Flames set to eliminate Pilots

The Flames beat the Pilots 3-1 on Wednesday night, and have a lead of three games to one in their best-of-seven junior B playoff series.

Goaltender Paul Tucek finds a point shot through traffic in Wednesday night’s 3-1 Flames win over the Pilots.

The Ridge Meadows Flames beat the Abbotsford Pilots 3-1 on Wednesday night, and now have a lead of three games to one in their best-of-seven junior B playoff series.

Goaltender Paul Tucek stopped 41 shots in net, and now has all three of the Flames wins.

“He earned his first star last night – he played well and stopped everything he could see,” said coach Bayne Ryshak.

Halen Cordoni got the Flames on the board on the power play, as he went to the front of the net and a point shot from Jonah Lige deflected off his body and in.

Defenceman Ryan Wellburn jumped up into the rush, creating a three-on-one, and buried his chance to give the Flames a 2-0 lead midway through the game. Cordoni assisted for his second point of the game.

Team captain Andrew Strelezki scored in the final minute of the second period off another odd-man rush that he finished with a slick move on Pilot goaltender Jacob Crawford to make it 3-0 heading into the third period.

The Flames were badly outshot in the game, with just 16 in the game and only two in the third period, but Ryshak said his team was playing conservatively, determined not to let the Pilots close the gap.

“We didn’t have to take any chances,” he said, and added that the Pilots had a lot of shots from the outside, and the Flames defence did a good job of keeping the front of the net clear.

In Game three, another 3-1 win on Tuesday night in Abbotsford, Strelezki had a goal and an assist, and Ryan MacDonald and Brady Buckham also scored.

Tucek stopped 30 of 31 shots.

Ryshak said his team has taken over the series by playing disciplined.

“In game two we got involved in shenanigans that we didn’t need to,” he said. “Now we’re focussed on playing hard between the whistles.”

The result was 11 power plays for the Flames in game three.

“They got a little silly in the third period, and it cost them.”

The Flames haven’t won a playoff series since the 2010-2011 season. Last year they got up 3-0 in their opening series, but then lost it. Ryshak said they are taking nothing for granted.

“You’ve got to get the fourth one. Enjoy your game celebrations, but then focus on the next one.”

• Game 5 will be in Abbotsford on Friday night, and if necessary the series will return to Cam Neely Arena in Maple Ridge on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

 

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