The Ridge Meadows Flames registered their first win of the season Friday night at home, doing in three games this season what took them nine a year ago.
After falling behind 2-0 in the first period, the local junior B hockey club rallied to top the visiting Grandview Steelers 3-2 to earn their first two points of the season.
“We didn’t get the start we wanted,” said Flames head coach Jamie Fiset. “Grandview is second in the league… but even though they were up on us, it didn’t feel like we were being out-played.”
Despite even play through much of the first period, the Steelers scored twice late in the opening frame to take a 2-0 lead into the second period.
Newly-acquired defenceman Ryan Lisowsky dropped the gloves late in the period with Grandview’s Jordan Hall, earning himself a game misconduct, while the Flames earned a power play thanks to Hall’s two-minute minor for instigating.
Matt Bissett got the Flames on the board with a power play goal four minutes into the second period, while Adam Bartsch added another with the man-advantage to tie the game 2-2 midway through the period.
“To our credit, our power play really started clicking in the second,” said Fiset. “Our guys showed a lot of character. They didn’t give up and they battled back.”
Nolan Wallinger gave the Flames their go-ahead-goal at 12:04 of the middle frame, while goalie Wesley McLeod was perfect for the remaining 28 minutes of hockey.
The Steelers pressed hard for an equalizer in the third, outshooting the Flames 13-6, but the Flames defence was able to keep the Steelers’ shooters to the outside of the Flames’ zone.
“They did a really good job of letting Wes see the puck,” said Fiset. “Most of the shots were from the perimeter. The ones that got through they blocked, or he saw the whole way.”
The Steelers pulled their goalie with under a minute to go, but the Flames were able to withstand the pressure and hold on for their first win of the season.
“It was good to give the fans something to cheer about,” said Fiset.
The Flames did not fare as well Saturday night, however, as they lost 6-1 on the road to the North Delta Devils the very next night.
“Two things happened,” said Fiset. “We didn’t take them seriously enough, and we had really tired legs out there.”
After dominating play early in the game, the Flames sat back on their 1-0 lead, and allowed the Devils to score six unanswered goals, getting outshot 42-19 in the process.
The Flames began to perk up late in the third, firing eight shots in the last five minutes, but it was too little, too late.
“By the end of it, the guys were pretty angry, but it was a little late for that kind of emotion,” said Fiset. “For most of the game there was no sense of urgency. Guys didn’t come to the rink prepared.”
With the loss, the Flames are in a three-way tie for last place in the Pacific Junior Hockey League, four games into the season.
The Flames face the Aldergrove Kodiaks this Friday at home. After the Kodiaks beat the Flames 3-1 in their first game of the season earlier this month, Fiset said the team is pumped for the rematch.
“I think there was some opening night jitters for our rookies,” he said. “That won’t be the case this time.”
Game time is 7:30 p.m. at Planet Ice in Maple Ridge.