If the Ridge Meadows Flames are going to get better, the improvement will have to come from within.
Teams in the Pacific International Junior Hockey League (PIJHL) had to cut down to 25 players by the weekend. With 23 players and just two cards left to sign more, the roster is nearly set. Coming off two weekend losses at home, with the team’s record dropped to 7-11-2-2, there could be reason for Flames fans to have concerns.
On Friday night they lost 4-1 to the Aldergrove Kodiaks. The game was closer than the score. Ridge trailed 1-0 after the first period despite outshooting their opponent 12-8. In the last minute of the second period a costly mistake saw a Kodiak player left unmarked beside the net tip a shot/pass behind Flames goaltender R.J. Bruni to see the Kodiaks pull away 2-0.
The only Flames goal of the game came midway through the third period, as Paul Piluso scored assisted by Travis Oddy.
Saturday night the Flames lost to the Abbotsford Pilots 7-3. Oddy had a goal and an assist, and the game’s third star, Christopher Nakamura, also scored. Bruni allowed seven goals on 38 shots.
“Abby looked like the Harlem Globetrotters against us,” remarked Flames owner Andrew Ileander. “We get pinned in our end.”
He said lately the team has struggled to recover pucks in their own end and break out of the defensive zone. Right now his wish list contains a pair of veteran defencemen. The team has until Jan. 10, 2013 to play its last two cards, and finalize its roster.
Ileander is confident the forwards will be able to produce on offence, and he has faith in his goaltending tandem of Wes McLeod and the rookie Bruni.
Coach Jamie Fiset said the Flames lost two defencemen from its top-four pairings right at the start of the season. As a result, guys who would have been depth players are being asked to log a lot of minutes.
The team has eight rookies, and “we’re giving these rookies a much larger role,” said Fiset.
So, improvement is coming, as long as the team stays confident.
“There are lots of things not clicking for us now,” allowed Fiset. “But we all agree – we are confident that things will be different.
The Flames have a busy schedule ahead of them. Beginning tomorrow night they play four games in six nights.
They get another shot at the Kodiaks on Wednesday in Aldergrove. Friday night they host the Port Moody Black Panthers at Planet Ice, with a 7:30 p.m. start. Saturday they are in Abbotsford, and then Tuesday in Delta.
- On Friday night the Flames will host awards presentations by the Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey Association between periods, given to standouts from the 2011-2012 season.
- On Dec. 14 the Flames will host a Teddy Bear Toss, and fans can bring a new stuffed animal or other toy, and throw it on the ice during intermission. They will be collected and donated to Christmas children’s charities.
- At every home game for the rest of the year the Flames will accept donations for the Friends in Need Food Bank.