With a spirited 2-1 win over the Mission City Outlaws on Friday night, the Ridge Meadows Flames have all but clinched third place in the Harold Brittain Conference,
The Flames were already in playoff mode in the first period, as they were first to every loose puck, played mistake-free hockey, and kept the Outlaws pinned in their own end of Cam Neely Arena most of the period. The Flames outshot the Outlaws 19-3 in the first, and led the game 2-0.
“It was probably one of the best periods I’ve seen our team play,” said coach Bayne Ryshak. “It was good to seem them come out hungre
Brandon Galbraith scored Ridge’s first goal late in the period. Outlaws goaltender Matt Trulsen, a Maple Ridge export, had Galbraith’s deflected shot flutter over his glove.
Then with two minutes left in the period, after a goal-mouth scramble in the Outlaws end, the Flames were awarded a penalty shot. An Outlaw had put his hand over the puck in the crease.
Taylor Seganfreddo cruised into the slot and snapped a hard shot over Trulsen’s shoulder, and it proved to be the game winner.
“He just kept it simple and shot the puck,” said Ryshak. “It was a really nice shot.”
It would have been 3-0 if an earlier goal had not been disallowed, but Seganfreddo had run over Trulsen, and the referee picked up the goaltender interference.
A second-period blast by point man Frank Zhong went off the base of the post as well, as the Flames couldn’t extend their lead despite keeping up the pressure.
The Flames gave up a goal to the Outlaws power play midway through the third period, but held on for the win. They outshot Mission 49-23.
The Flames are now four points ahead of the Outlaws, and both teams have two games remaining. If the two teams finished tied for points in the standings at the end of the regular season schedule, the Flames will win the tiebreaker based on their better goal differential.
The Flames first took care of business by beating the hapless Surrey Knights on Thursday.
The still-winless Knights have three points, on three overtime losses, to show for 43 games this season.
They have one more chance to get their first win of the season, but with the first-place Aldergrove Kodiaks on the schedule, it looks like a winless season in the offing.
Team captain Andrew Strelezki had goal and two assists, Brandon Galbraith scored twice, Ryley Lanthier and Quenton Magnuson each had a goal and an assist, and Halen Cordoni also scored.
The Flames have just two regular season games left, and will then likely begin a playoff series with the Abbotsford Pilots. They have split six games with three wins apiece in the regular season.
Ryshak said his team can’t wait for the playoffs.
“For those guys it’s a lot like Christmas. They’re just itching for the real hockey to get going.”
The Outlaws will take on the powerhouse Kodiaks, who are coming off an 8-1 win over Abbotsford on Friday. The Pilots have lost four of their last five games.
The Flames will be in Richmond to take on the Sockeyes on Thursday night, and will end the regular season on Friday against the Port Moody Panthers at Cam Neely Arena, at 7:30 p.m.