With a weekend split, the Ridge Meadows Flames got back in the win column on Saturday night.
The Flames lost Friday night’s home game 3-2 to the Port Moody Panthers, but then showed they are still among the league’s elite by beating the Abbotsford Pilots 4-3 on Saturday.
In the process, they leapfrogged Abby in the standings.
“It couldn’t have come at a better time. We were on a bit of slide,” coach Bayne Ryshak said of the win.
He said the difference was doing a better job of puck possession, and taking the middle of the ice away from the opposition.
The Flames jumped on the Pilots early, taking a two-goal lead just 3:19 into the game, and leading 3-1 after the first period.
They got goals from newcomer Brett Didyk, Mathieu Melanson and Quenton Magnuson in the first, and team captain Andrew Strelezki scored the game winner early in the third period. Brandon Galbraith had a pair of assists. Jack Stradiotti stopped 21 of 24 shots for the win.
Even against the Panthers, the Flames showed improvement, said Ryshak.
“We played really well – we outshot them and out-chanced them.”
The shots on goal were 38-23 for the Flames.
The local junior Bs are now 10-5, second in the Harold Brittain Conference.
Against the Panthers, Tristan Tressel and Bradley Crompton scored.
Ryshak admired the work of his fourth line – rookies Brendan Black, Ryan MacDonald and Melanson – in both games.
“They brought a lot of energy to the group this weekend, and they were all over the puck,” he said.
The Flames played the Delta Ice Hawks on Tuesday night at the Ladner Leisure Centre.
This Friday night, they will host the conference-leading Aldergrove Kodiaks, who have gone 10-3 so far, and are on a five-game winning streak. Ryshak expects a tough game.
“They’re chippy, physical and they move the puck well,” he said. “And when they get an opportunity they make you pay.”
Game time is 7:30 p.m. at Cam Neely Arena.
• The Flames added a local boy to their lineup in Brett Didyk, who comes back to the Maple Ridge team after two seasons with the Vancouver NorthEast Chiefs of the B.C. Major Midget League. In 37 games last year, the 17-year-old power forward scored 18 goals and had 34 points, as well as 78 penalty minutes.
“He’s quick, he’s got good hands, he protects the puck well, and he can score from anywhere,” said Ryshak.