The Ridge Meadows Flames are looking to get back on track for the upcoming PJHL Winter Classic this weekend after a recent loss to the Grandview Steelers and a slip in the standings.
With a 4-1 loss to the Steelers on Dec. 22, the Flames are hoping to put the past behind them as they look to their next game against the Abbotsford Pilots.
The Steelers capitalized twice on the powerplay, once in the first period and again in the second, and finished the game with an empty-net goal in the third.
“It was a pretty tight game. Shots were relatively even, 35-28,” said the team’s general manager Derek Bedard.
“The difference really is the couple of powerplay goals. They had some good goaltending and made some timely saves on us and we couldn’t generate enough offence that night, basically,” he said.
Bedard noted that one of their star players, Nicholas Amsler, was absent from the game because of a three-game suspension he received in overtime during a game against the Mission City Outlaws on Dec. 20 that the Flames lost 4-3.
They also have some injured players that he is hoping to have back for the weekend games. The first against Abbotsford on Jan. 4 and the second against Aldergrove the following day.
Bedard said this is the first time the team has dropped from first place in the standings since the puck dropped in September.
The PJHL Winter Classic takes place Jan. 3-5 in Richmond.
Although the Classic has a tournament feel to it, Bedard explained it more like a league showcase where scouts can come out and see all the teams play back-to-back games under one roof.
“It’s one-stop shopping,” he said, adding that he likes the change of pace it provides.
The Flames will be practising both Monday and Thursday nights to prepare for the two games they will be playing and Bedard says their players will be rested and recharged after the Christmas break.
He said with Amsler still suspended for the next two games, there will be some tinkering with the offensive lines. But he expects his guys to have a strong weekend.
“There are no easy wins in our league,” said Bedard.
“If you take anyone lightly, they are going to make you pay,” he added.
The last regular-season game for the team is Feb. 9.