The Ridge Meadows Flames are only five games into the junior B season, and although they were defeated soundly by opposing teams over the weekend, head coach Tavis Eaton doesn’t see any reason to panic.
With a Pacific International Junior Hockey League team full of rookies and few returning players, don’t expect Eaton to go easy on his squad. He expects his players to play up to their potential, something they didn’t do in their past couple of games.
Friday night saw the Flames lose 7-0 to the Richmond Sockeyes, a team stockpiled with talent. Flames players were outworked for the majority of the game and took a total of six penalties, two of which the Sockeyes capitalized on.
Sunday night was much of the same with the Flames losing 10-1 against the Grandview Steelers. The team’s lone goal was scored by Reece Rivard, late in the third period.
“Both games weren’t very good, let’s put it that way. The guys are working hard, but if you continue to lose your one-on-one battles in your own end, you’re probably going to lose more games,” Eaton said. “We were simply outworked on those two nights. Those teams won their one-on-one battles and we didn’t.”
With 13 rookies on the team, the Flames are still searching for chemistry, but the team’s lack of motivation is what bothers Eaton.
“If players aren’t coming to the rink every night motivated to play well, then we’re going to have trouble. My job is not to motivate them because they’re big boys,” he said. “They all know what it takes to play at a high level and this is where they have to learn themselves how to play the game and be smart about playing the game.”
The Flames made a six-player trade on Friday that may help their cause.
Eaton acquired forwards Sean Pesut and Keagan Hunter and defenceman Curtis Weins from the Mission Icebreakers for forwards Adam Callegari and Kenny Prato, defenceman Kiefer Rivington and future considerations.
All three play a hard one-on-one game, something Eaton was looking to add to his hockey club.
“Pesut and Hunter are known for scoring goals, once they get going they’ll be fantastic for our team, and Weins will help out our defence,” Eaton added. “We have to remember that nothing happens overnight. Offence and playing well comes from trust and right now we’ve got too many players running around trying to do someone else’s job because they think they’re helping out, but they’re not.”
“But it’s a long season and, in the end, we’ll be fine,” he added. “It just takes some time to adjust but it’ll get better.”
The Flames next game is on Friday at Planet Ice against the Port Moody Black Panthers, 7:30 p.m.