Junior B Flames finish preseason at 3-3

The wins and losses might not count for anything, but Ridge Meadows Flames head coach Tavis Eaton is happy to have finished the preseason with a pair of victories last week.

The Flames travelled to Mission on Thursday, when they defeated the Icebreakers 4-2 before winning the rematch 4-1 at home on Friday.

Eaton said he was glad to see the team end the preseason on a winning note.

“It gives the guys some confidence heading into the regular season,” he said. “I thought we played well as a team, and that’s a good sign.”

The Flames were 1-3 heading into the two-game exhibition series with Mission, and now finish the 2011 preseason with a 3-3 record.

Despite some fights early in the game Friday, the Flames managed to avoid the penalty box for the remainder of the game, allowing them a number of power play opportunities.

“Mission was playing very physical,” Eaton said. “I think they were probably trying to intimidate us, but it didn’t work.”

The Flames begin the regular season this Friday when they play host to the Grandview Steelers.

The Flames dropped both preseason games to the Steelers, and Eaton says he expects another strong outing from the Burnaby hockey club

“They are such a well-rounded team,” Eaton said. “They have a very good power play, so if we can stay out of the penalty box, we’ll limit their chances. Discipline is a big thing when you play a team like that.”

The majority of the Flames roster will be in the lineup for Friday’s home opener. Some notable absences will include Trevor Sutton, who is out injury, and forward Danny Brandys, who is expected to rejoin the team next week after working in Alberta for the past few months.

“Getting a player of Danny’s caliber will really help us,” said Eaton. “You just don’t find 72-point getters like that anywhere.”

Also out of the lineup will be Matt Bissett, who has signed with the Trail Smoke Eaters of the Junior A B.C. Hockey League.

With 12 rookies on the roster, Eaton doesn’t expect any easy nights this season. However, he said he has been impressed with the team’s camaraderie and work ethic thus far.

“You can feel it in the dressing room. The group seems a lot closer this season,” Eaton said. “I’m excited. If we keep our work ethic, we should be okay.”

• The Ridge Meadows Flames play the Grandview Steelers This Friday at home at Planet Ice in Maple Ridge. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

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