After a long disruption by COVID-19, combined with arena upgrades, junior hockey has returned to Maple Ridge.
The Ridge Meadows Flames opened the Junior B hockey season with a pair of losses over the weekend. Pacific Junior Hockey League action returned to Cam Neely Arena on Friday night, for the first time since February of 2020.
Unfortunately for the hometown fans, the Flames dropped their first game 4-1 to Port Moody to open the season.
Flames GB Derek Bedard said the team is young this season, and the inexperience showed early in the game, as they got down 3-1 after the first period.
“I don’t think we’ve every had 15 rookies,” said Bedard. “Obviously, there were some rookie moments.”
There was also a nice veteran moment, when sniper Nicholas Amsler took a feed from defenceman Adam Leitch and rifled it under the bar for the Flames’ first goal of the season.
Bedard noted the Flames did outshoot Port Moody in the game, by a margin of 36-18.
In their second game of the year, the Flames lost 2-0 on Sunday to the Jets in Chilliwack. Rookie goaltender Cameron Connolly stopped 27 of 29 shots to keep the game close.
Bedard said Chilliwack has a good team, with former BCHL and Major Junior players.
“Sunday was a very good game. We competed hard, and played almost a full 60 minutes.”
On Friday night, the Flames will host the Mission City Outlaws at Cam Neely Arena, with the puck drop at 7:30 p.m. Then on Saturday, the Flames will be in White Rock against the Whalers.
Bedard noted there are 500 fans welcome to attend the games at Planet Ice, and there was a good crowd on Friday night, as hockey fans come back to local rinks.
“If there’s ever been a time for pent-up demand to come to a hockey game, this is it,” noted Bedard.
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