Flames struggle to get puck past Kodiaks goalie

At 6-foot-3, Aldergrove Kodiaks goalie Ross Baadsvik is a big guy. But last Friday against the Ridge Meadows Flames, he played as big as a Kodiak bear.

At 6-foot-3, Aldergrove Kodiaks goalie Ross Baadsvik is a big guy. But last Friday against the Ridge Meadows Flames, he played as big as a Kodiak bear.

Baadsvik made 50 saves as Aldergrove defeated Ridge Meadows 6-3 at Planet Ice, handing the Flames their fifth consecutive Pacific International Junior B Hockey League loss.

Adult male Kodiak bears range between 800 and 1,400 pounds, and stand up to 10-feet tall, although they do leave a large 5-hole when on their haunches. To the Flames, Baadsvik played like he was 10-feet tall and could fill the net.

“Aldergrove played good, we just couldn’t score,” said Flames head coach Tavis Eaton. “It was one of those nights when their goalie was stopping everything … He made save after save after save.”

In a scoreless first period, the Flames outshot the Kodiaks 12-3 and were unable to beat Baadsvik despite having four power-play opportunities. They had another three in the first nine minutes of the second period, including a stretch of 1:06 with a two-man advantage. The final tally had Ridge Meadows going 0-for-8 with the extra skater.

“It’s tough when we don’t score on the powerplay,” said Eaton. “And then we took a few dumb penalties ourselves and it ended up costing us.”

It took until 12:27 of the second period, with nobody in either penalty box, before Flames captain C.J. Legassic was finally able to beat Baadsvik. But then in a cruel twist of irony for the Flames, they surrendered a pair of power-play goals late in the second period after Ridge Meadows’ Cory Day (slashing) and Matthew Hargreaves (roughing) took what Eaton termed “undisciplined” and “lazy” penalties. Aldergrove’s Jordan Pughe scored with 51 seconds left in the period to give the Kodiaks a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes despite being outshot 30-20.

“That’s what really sunk us,” said Eaton of Aldergrove’s power-play goals. “You can’t afford to take selfish penalties and it really hurt us.”

The Kodiaks stretched their lead to 5-1 by 11:25 of the third period before the Flames were able to strike with goals by Shane Harle and Danny Brandys to make it 5-3 with 3:55 left.before Pughe iced the game with an unassisted effort just 39 seconds later.

“The guys got frustrated,” said Eaton. “I told the guys after the second period, ‘Don’t get frustrated, it’ll turn around, we’ll get a goal.”

Eaton said he replaced starting goaltender Mackenzie Skapski with Tyler Klassen after the second period as a “change of pace, to see if that would spark our guys and then turn it around.”

The loss was a missed opportunity to permanently put the Kodiaks in their playoff rearview mirror. With a 16-21-2 record, Ridge Meadows holds the fourth and final post-season spot in the Harold Brittain Conference, five points ahead of Aldergrove (12-20-5) who have played two fewer games than the Kodiaks.

“All the teams in the league are good,” said Eaton.

A win would have also vaulted them over the Mission Icebreakers (15-17-5) into third place.

The Flames have seven games left in the regular season to solidify a place in the playoff party starting with Friday night when they play host to the Delta Ice Hawks at Planet Ice (7 p.m.). The Ice Hawks lead the Tom Shaw Conference with a 30-6-2 record (prior to Tuesday’s game), but the Flames came close to beating them last week when they had a three-goal lead with seven minutes left before losing 6-5 in overtime.

“We showed we can play with them,” said Eaton. “If we keep working hard the breaks will come our way.”

On Sunday, the Flames will head east to take on the Icebreakers at the Mission Leisure Centre starting at 3:30 p.m.

“If we can get a couple of wins we can finish Aldergrove off,” Eaton said.

• The Ice Hawks feature the league’s top two scorers in Liam Harding (29-7-66) and Cody Smith (23-35-58). Brandys is third with 54 points, although he leads the PIJHL in assists with 40.