After taking the conference’s top team to overtime on Friday, and then blowing out an opponent the next night, the Ridge Meadows Flames coaching staff is hoping their team has turned a corner.
Friday night at Planet Ice the Flames hosted the Aldergrove Kodiaks, and the top team in the Harold Brittain Conference jumped out to an early 3-1 lead, after the first period. But the Flames got a power play goal in the second period and then a shorthanded goal in the third to force overtime.
Head coach Jamie Fiset noted his team had gone 0-13 against the bears over the past two regular seasons.
“The’ve owned us,” he said.
So, for the Flames to come back and steal a point after trailing almost felt like a win.
Ridge goals were scored by Danny Wilson, Marco Ballarin and Travis Oddy.
Then, on Saturday the offence exploded in a 7-2 beatdown of the Port Moody Panthers, as Ballarin had a goal and two assists, Oddy and newcomer Grant Rostvig each scored twice. Vitaly Morozov had a goal and an assist, and Brandon Inwood also scored.
Now the Flames have seven points in nine Pacific International Junior Hockey League games.
“It felt good this weekend, to get rewarded for our efforts,” said Fiset. “I think we’re a better team than last year. We’re definitely faster and more skilled.”
Rosvig has been a great addition. The White Rock prospect had taken two years off of hockey. When he returned, he chose to come to the Flames in order to play with his good friend, goaltender Tyler Read. Playing with Ballarin and Dale Howell, they are going around opposing defenders like a turnstile.
“A lot of teams have had a hard time handling their speed and work ethic,” said Fiset.
There’s still team captain Travis Oddy, the dangerous Vitaly Morozov and MacLean Hewitt for a second line that is fully capable of being the team’s best line on any given night.
Fiset has been impressed with 20-year-old Oddy’s leadership so far this year.
“He’s really done a great job of bringing these young guys together,” he said. “You can definitely see he’s playing with a purpose.”
The Flames penalty kill was outstanding through the two games, leaving the Kodiaks frustrated at one-for-seven, and allowing Port Moody one goal on nine chances.
“The P.K. really tightened up this weekend,” said Fiset, noting he has cycled through numerous pairings of forwards, and they’re all getting the job done.
“It’s been a complete team effort.”
For their part, the Flames power plays went one-for-five in both games.
The lopsided power plays are not a concern for Fiset – the coaching staff is urging a more aggressive style of play this year, and extra penalties will be an occasional consequence of that.
“We’re letting teams know that we’re here to play,” said Fiset.
Goaltender Read looked good, with 40 saves on 44 shots on Friday, and 27 for 29 on Saturday.
“He had a very good weekend, and he was due for a good one.”
The Flames will host the Panthers on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Planet Ice for a rematch of last Friday’s laugher.
“We know they’ll come out firing.”