Former Ridge Meadows Flames head coach and general manager Tavis Eaton reached his tipping point in the aftermath of the junior B team's 8-1, home ice loss to the Delta Ice Hawks on Feb. 3.
Eaton resigned following the lopsided loss.
"I would have loved to stay with the kids, but I felt it was best for myself and my family that I left," Eaton said.
Following Eaton's departure and assistant coach Jamie Fiset's promotion to bench boss, the Flames finished the Pacific International Junior Hockey League regular season with three wins and four losses, dropping their final two games by identical 4-1 scores to the Richmond Sockeyes on Thursday and North Vancouver Wolf Pack on Friday.
Heading into Thursday's action, the Flames had won two straight.
"Jamie will do a great job with the team," Eaton said.
Fiset said it "got to that point" where Eaton decided it was time to move on. The two have been good friends for a few years; Eaton brought Fiset into the Flames organization.
"That's the nature of hockey," said Fiset, who has been an assistant with the Flames the past three seasons and served as the team's goaltending coach two years previous to that. "People come and go; players come and go."
Fiset - who teaches social studies and history at Langley Secondary and runs LSS's Hockey Academy - was positioned to become the Flames' head coach next year.
Eaton's decision to leave expedited the move.
Eaton has since joined the Flames' crossriver rivals, the Aldergrove Kodiaks, in an assistant coach's capacity.
The Kodiaks finished atop the PIJHL's Harold Brittain Conference with a 28-13-1-2 mark.
"This stuff happens," Fiset offered. "You look at the NHL; [former Washington Capitals head coach] Bruce Boudreau gets fired and it's a matter of days and he's with a new team [as head coach of the Anaheim Ducks]."
Last month, Eaton announced he was leaving the team at the end of this season due to what he described as "philosophical differences" with ownership on how the Flames should be run.
Eaton had been with the Flames organization in a coaching capacity for eight years.
Over the past three years, he served as head coach.
"It's been a great eight years, but now it's time to move on," he said.
Last season, the Flames qualified for the playoffs with a 21-23-0-2 mark, and in 2009-10, they topped the conference's regular season standings with a solid 28-16-0-4 record.
The Flames are now playing in the post-season. That's because the top four teams from each of the PIJHL's two conferences (the Harold Brittain and the Tom Shaw) make the playoffs.
While Ridge Meadows managed to secure the fourth and final playoff spot in the Harold Brittain, the team struggled mightily this season, ending up with an 11-32-0-1 record.
Mission, fifth and last in the Harold Brittain, closed out its abysmal campaign with an 8-33-0-3 record.
The Flames, meanwhile, got off to a horrendous start to their season, going 0-8, and were 2-10 through September and October.
"We had two really bad months," Fiset said. "November, things started to get better. We started to see improvement around Christmastime, and January we had a setback."
Fiset said the focus has been to finish on a positive note and being ready for the playoffs.
Ironically, the Flames are facing Eaton and the Kodiaks in a best-ofseven, opening round series.
Game one was played last night at Aldergrove Arena [results were not available when the TIMES went to press Monday afternoon].
Game two is Wednesday at Aldergrove Arena, with a 7: 15 p.m. opening faceoff.
The series continues Friday, when the Flames return to Planet Ice to host the Kodiaks, starting at 7: 30 p.m.
Game four is Monday at Planet Ice, starting at 9 p.m.
Looking towards the playoffs, Fiset says the Flames are balanced team with a couple of lines that can score and a defence that's rounded into form.
A goaltender by trade, Fiset said the Flames netminders, Wesley McLeod and Jordan Hospes, have been solid of late.
"Our goalies have been really good," Fiset said. "They have played very well down the stretch." . . .
The Flames clashed with the top team in the PIJHL Thursday, but weren't able to pull off the upset.
The mighty Richmond Sockeyes - who finished the season with a league-best 37-7 mark - were ahead 4-0 before the Flames' Keagan Hunter spoiled goaltender Kootenay Alder's shutout bid with 3: 59 to go in the third period.
Richmond led 1-0 after the first period and 2-0 after two periods of play.
Sam Chichak and Carter Popoff scored third period goals to give the home team a four-goal advantage.
The Flames were scoreless in two power-play attempts while the Sockeyes scored once on three-man advantage opportunities.
Richmond nearly doubled Ridge Meadows' shot totals, as McLeod stopped 39 of 43 shots directed his way. Alder had a relatively quiet night, stopping 23 of 24 pucks.
Jeremy Hamaguchi scored on a Sockeyes' powerplay and added two assists for the winners, and was named the game's first star.
The loss put an end to the Flames' two-game winning streak.
. . .
On Friday, the Flames closed out their regular season with a 4-1 loss on home ice to the North Vancouver Wolf Pack.
North Vancouver manufactured a 4-0 lead through the better part of two periods of play.
With 49 seconds to go in the middle frame, Ridge Meadows' Matthew Bissett got the Flames on the board with his team-best 31st goal of the season.
Quin Buckellew scored a pair of first period goals to stake the Wolf Pack to a 2-0 lead.