Flames still in driver’s seat despite loss to Port Moody

Junior B hockey team returns home tonight for chance to clinch series in six games

The Ridge Meadows Flames have a chance to take their opening playoff round against the Port Moody Black Panthers tonight [Wednesday] at home after being shut-out by their Pacific International Junior Hockey League rivals Monday night.After dropping the first game of the best-of-seven series last week, the Ridge Meadows Flames stormed back with three straight wins, including a 6-4 win at home Friday night and 6-2 win in Port Moody Saturday night.However, the Panthers bounced back with a 3-0 win Monday night in Port Moody to send the series back to Planet Ice in Maple Ridge, giving the Flames an opportunity to win the series at home.With the series 3-2, coach Tavis  Eaton said he wants his team to make sure there isn’t a Game 7.“I’m confident we can win this series, if we choose to out-work them,” he said. “When we work harder, we get the results we want.”That wasn’t the case Monday night, however.“We got a good slap in the face,” Eaton said of the shut-out loss. “I think some of the guys thought Port Moody would roll over, but they are always going to be there, they’re just too good of a team.” With the game scoreless after the first period, Port Moody took a 2-0 lead in the second, adding a third goal with five minutes left in regulation.Despite being handed the loss, Eaton sees positives in the team’s performance, namely goaltender Mackenzie Skapski having another strong performance in net, and the team’s penalty kill going a perfect five-for-five.Skapski stopped 44 of 47 shots fired his way, and did everything that was asked of him, according to Eaton.“You can’t fault him for the loss,” he said. “You’re not going to win many games if you don’t score any goals.”The Flames will no doubt be looking for another strong performance by Danny Brandys, who leads PIJHL playoff scoring with 11 points in five games. Dustin Cervo, CJ Legassic, and Ryan Stewart have averaged more than a point per game.The Flames have out-scored the Black Panthers 19 to 15 so far this series, with nine different players finding the back of the net.However, if the Flames are to make a push for the conference championship, that secondary scoring will be critical, Eaton says.“I think we’re playing very good hockey right now. We have three really good lines, and they’ve all been chipping in, and we need that” said Eaton. “Even the fourth line has been playing well.”• The Ridge Meadows Flames host the Port Moody Black Panthers at home at Planet Ice in Maple Ridge tonight (Wednesday) at 7:30 p.m.