The Ridge Meadows Flames can hear the footsteps.
The Mission City Outlaws are just two points back of the third placed in the Harold Brittain Conference, after beating the Flames 3-1 on Saturday night.
Coach Bayne Ryshak said the Outlaws were “gifted” a five-on-three power play late in the second period, and they got the go-ahead goal early in the third period while still enjoying a man advantage.
But he said the Flames were unable to take advantage of their own power plays in the third period.
The fourth-place team will face a first-round matchup against the dominant Aldergrove Kodiaks, who have gone 32-6, when the Pacific Junior Hockey League playoffs begin in mid-February.
The Flames do have a game in hand, and have gone 17-17-2-2 for 38 points. Mission is 16-19-0-4 for 36 points.
“It’s ours to win. We’re in control of our own destiny,” said the coach.
Ryshak said the Flames have to be prepared to take on either the Kodiaks or Abbotsford Pilots in the upcoming playoffs.
Nicolas Georgeopoulos was the only scorer for the flames.
Maple Ridge’s own Matt Trulsen played great against his hometown junior team, as the Outlaws rookie goaltender stopped 35 of 36 shots.
The two teams will meet for one last regular season game on Feb. 3 in Maple Ridge.
On Friday night the Flames beat the Delta Ice Hawks 3-2 in overtime.
Paul Georgeopolous got the winner in three-on-three overtime. He was about even with the last man back when the puck was chipped up to him, but Georgeopolous was able to pull away from the defenceman and get in on goal. The netminder went for a poke check, missed, and Georgeopolous shot it over his shoulder.
“It was nice to see him get that against his old team,” said Ryshak
Newly acquired defenceman Frank Zhong had a goal and an assist, and was named the game’s first star.
Zhong, and 18-year-old from Surrey, had been playing with the Junior A Fort Frances Lakers of Ontario’s Superior International Junior Hockey League. He put up two goals and four assists in 17 games.
“He’s got good size, he’s offensive, skates well with the puck and he likes to play physical,” said Ryshak.
In his first game, he ripped a shot from the high slot that beat the goaltender over the shoulder. Ryshak said he looks like a top-four defenceman.
Halen Cordoni also scored, and Zachary McKee had two assists.
In net, Jack Stradiotti stopped 27 of 29 shots and got the win.