The Ridge Meadows Flames dropped to third place in the Harold Brittain Conference after two weekend losses.
The Flames were shut out 4-0 by the Abbotsford Pilots on Friday night, then lost 4-1 to the Wolf Pack in North Vancouver on Saturday.
After a historic start to the season, the local junior B team has now lost three out of four games.
The Flames are now 9-4 and are in a dogfight for first place with the Aldergrove Kodiaks and Pilots.
“It’s a work in progress,” Flames head coach Bayne Ryshak said of the losses. “Teams have tightened up against us.
“You’ve got to work hard, and put yourself in position to take advantage of the bounces.”
The Wolf Pack benefitted from special teams, as its power play went 2-8, while North Van’s penalty kill was 3-4.
The lone scorer for the Flames was team captain Andrew Strelezki, who score shorthanded.
The Pilots also benefitted from eight power plays, scoring just once, while the Flames went 0-4 with the man advantage.
Ryshak did not want to blame the referees, but said the parade to the penalty box killed his team’s momentum, and makes it tough to come back once down.
“There’s a lot of undisciplined penalties,” he said. “And it seems like the dumb penalties always hurt you.”
Jack Stradiotti got his first start in net for the Flames on Saturday and stopped 26 of 30 shots.
He is an 18-year-old out of Delta who played for Burnaby Winter Club.
He also played in the Pacific Junior Hockey League with Port Moody Panthers. He played 32 games last year, posting a 3.20 goals against average and a .900 save percentage, while posting a record of 7-16-3 with one shutout.
He started this year with the Richmond Sockeyes, going 1-3 in five games, with a 2.85 GAA and .898 save percentage.
The Flames were able to acquire him for future considerations, because the Sockeyes had a surplus of netminders.
“He gave us a chance to win,” said Ryshak. “He’s calm and composed, and he can make the big save.”
He said getting a goaltender with Stradiotti’s experience at this point in the season, after losing Braedon Fleming to the Junior A Langley Rivermen, was a break for the Flames.
Rookie goaltender Paul Tucek started Friday’s game.
Ryshak did not want to name one of the goaltenders a starter, but said he will tend to play whoever is hot.
“They’ll push each other.”
This weekend the Flames have two home games at Planet Ice. On Friday they will host the Port Moody Panthers, and then Saturday will bring a rematch with the first-place Pilots. Puck drop is 7:30 p.m. for both games.