The acquisition of goaltender Jordan Hollett has transformed the Ridge Meadow Flames from pretender to contender in the Pacific Junior Hockey League.
The Flames snagged three of a possible four points on the weekend with a 3-3 road tie against the Richmond Sockeyes on Thursday, Oct. 22, then a fast-paced 2-1 win over the much improved Port Moody Panthers on home ice Friday, Oct. 23.
Head coach Jamie Fiset said he was thrilled to be able to come out of Richmond with a point, saying it has been a tough place for the Flames to play as of late.
“It’s good. It’s been long time since we’ve been able to carve out any points from Richmond on the road,” said Fiset.
He was equally impressed with how well his team responded playing a mere 24 hours later. He described the Richmond game as a great heavyweight tilt, in which the Flames refused to back down, so to respond Friday in a game that was as high tempo as it was, made the win that much more important for the team’s state of mind.
“We’re starting to get out what we thought we would from this team now,” said Fiset. “We’re starting to play with a little more urgency. Considering we were the more tired team on Friday night, I was pretty happy with the pace.”
There’s no question when the Flames fortunes started to change. The acquisition of 16-year-old goaltender Jordan Hollett has vastly improved the Flames chances in every game they play.
A 2013 first-round pick of the Regina Pats, Hollett has elevated the play of the team, said Fiset.
He said look at the team’s 1-3 record before Hollett arrived, and it’s obvious what solid goaltending means to his team’s confidence.
“There’s no doubt about it. When he landed with us it was a great feeling,” said Fiset, who was a coach on Team B.C. during the 2015 Canada Winter Games, in which Hollett was a starter.
The Flames have four wins, three losses and an overtime loss since the Langley product’s arrival.
Fiset said the strong play of his goaltender means the rest of the team is playing with playing more confidence.
“If you get into a game where you don’t have a lot of confidence in your goaltending and you get down a few goals, it’s hard to get out of that spiral,” said Fiset. “That’s exactly what happened to us early in the year. We would get down a couple quick goals or we would need our goalie to get us through a rough patch and it didn’t happen.”
He said Thursday’s tilt with Richmond was the perfect example. The Sockeyes jumped out to an early lead, but the Flames were able to stick with them thanks to some big saves by Hollett.
The Flames gave up 16 shots in the first period in Richmond, but came out ahead leading 2-1 on goals by Brandon Inwood and Nicholas Maydaniuk.
Jake Holland had the other tally for the Flames, and he was named the game’s first star.
Against the Panthers, rookie Tristan Tressel opened the scoring and sniper Andrew Strelezki fired the winner with 25 seconds left in the second period, but again it was the work of Hollett leading the way for the tired Flames.
He made 30 saves in the game and was named the game’s first star.
“We were dialed in and it felt pretty good to finally get to a stage where we could get to the stage where we could get solid back-to-back games.”
• The Flames host the North Vancouver Wolf Pack Friday, Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m.