The good news is the Ridge Meadows Flames are more than halfway towards their win total from last season.
The bad news: the junior B Flames finished with an 1132-0-1 mark at the end of the 2011/12 campaign.
This year, the team is hovering just below the .500 mark, at 6-7-1-2, and sits third behind Aldergrove (9-9-0-1) and first-place Abbotsford (115-0-2) in the Pacific Junior Hockey League Harold Brittain Conference standings.
The Flames have been doing a decent job of keeping the puck out of their own net, with the fourth-best goals against total in the 10-team PJHL.
The Flames have allowed 63 goals in 16 games, averaging a shade under four goals per contest.
But they also have the second-worst offence in the league, with 49 goals scored.
"It's a concern but it's not a major concern," Flames' head coach and general manager Jamie Fiset said. "We have the goals in our game; we know we have guys who can put the puck in the net. We know they'll come. We have confidence that they will be there."
Ridge Meadows' top two scorers are averaging under a point a game, with Matthew Bissett and Sean Pesut tied with 14 points each. Bissett leads the Flames in goals with nine while Pesut is the top playmaker with 13 helpers.
Fiset said the Flames have been working with Bissett to make him a more rounded player.
"We've asked him to change his game and as a result of that he's had less production," Fiset said.
"It will help him grow as a player. Defensively, he's much better than he was last year. It's a process of trying to develop the team and also trying develop individual guys, as well."
To give Bissett and Pesut a hand in the scoring department, Fiset recently acquired two left-handed forwards - 1995-born Kurt Thrussell from North Delta and 1993-born Vitalik Morozov from Port Moody - both for future considerations.
Fiset, who teaches at Langley Secondary School, is familiar with Thrussell, a Langley resident.
"I like the way he plays," Fiset said. "He was a late cut from the Langley Rivermen and when he came available, I jumped at it [the chance to acquire him] instantly."
The two new acquisitions will bring roster numbers up higher.
This development means Fiset will have some roster decisions to make in the near future.
Ultimately, Fiset said, "We're always looking to improve and when you have the opportunity to improve, you have to take it."
Moving forward, the Flames are coming off a solid 6-3 win on home ice over the Port Moody Panthers.
Friday's game saw the visitors jump out to a 1-0 lead on a goal from Bryden Luscombe.
The Flames answered with goals from Alexander Smith and defenceman Reece Rivard's first of the season on a Ridge Meadows powerplay, to move ahead 2-1 with under four minutes to play in the opening frame.
The lead didn't last long - Port Moody's Liam Pearce tied the game at the 17: 29 mark of the first period.
Ridge Meadows moved ahead for good in the second frame on goals from Paul Piluso and Christopher Nakamura.
Then, 5: 42 into the third stanza, Bissett scored from Pesut and Clayton Lake to make it 5-2 Flames.
Pearce's second of the game, on a Panthers' powerplay, narrowed the visitors' margin to two goals with 12: 55 to go in regulation.
The Flames' Michael Nolan rounded out the night's scoring when he found the net with 1: 24 remaining in the game.
Flames' goaltender RJ Bruni made 27 saves for the win.
The win was redemption for what Fiset felt was an uneven effort
the night before (Nov. 8) at the Mission Leisure Centre.
The Flames battled from deficits of 2-0 in the second period and 4-2 in the third stanza, only to fall 5-4 in the second overtime to the host Mission City Outlaws.
"We weren't happy with the effort Thursday against Mission. We thought we should have played much better," Fiset said. "We didn't come into that game prepared. That was frustrating."
The loss lit a fire under the Flames the next night.
"We were like, 'Hey, we're ready to play, let's get it going.' We carried the play from the drop of the puck to the very end of the game."
Ridge Meadows will try to even its record tonight (Nov. 15) when the Flames visit the Richmond Sockeyes. Richmond sits second in the PJHL's Tom Shaw Conference with a 13-4-0-1 record. Opening faceoff at Richmond Arena is 7: 30 p.m.
The Flames have one win over the Sockeyes, beating them 4-2 on Oct. 19 at Planet Ice.
"We caught a lot of people by surprise - except for us," Fiset said. "When we have big games against [teams like] Richmond and Delta, we look forward to them."
Tomorrow night (Friday, Nov. 16) the Flames will have another crack at Mission City, this time on home ice.
The Outlaws currently sit fourth in the Harold Brittain with a 5-11-0-2 record.
Game time at Planet Ice is 7: 30 p.m.
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