Last Friday's game at Planet Ice offered up a preview of the opening round of the Pacific Junior Hockey League playoffs.
And the Ridge Meadows Flames hope the result isn't an indication of what's to come once the postseason rolls around.
The junior B Flames appear destined to meet the Aldergrove Kodiaks to kick off the playoffs, and the visiting Kodiaks put the bite on them Feb. 1 with a 6-2 win.
"This was a frustrating game for us," Flames coach Jamie Fiset said. "It wasn't frustrating because we had no answer for them, it was frustrating because we know how to beat them. We just weren't getting the bounces and we found ourselves in the penalty box at inopportune times."
The Kodiaks went two-for-four with the man advantage while the Flames were held scoreless on three power-play opportunities.
With four games remaining in their regular season, the second-place Kodiaks (25-14-0-1) have an outside chance of catching the Harold Brittain Conference-leading Abbotsford Pilots (27-10-0-2).
However, the Kodiaks would pretty much have to run the table the rest of the way, while the Pilots would have to lose three of their final five games of the campaign.
The third-place Flames (14-19-2-5) are in purgatory. They won't catch the Kodiaks and are way ahead of the fourth place Mission City Outlaws (7-301-2).
So, if the season ended today, the Flames would meet the Kodiaks and the Pilots would face the Outlaws to open the postseason, with the last-place Port Moody Panthers (6-32-0-2) on the outside looking in.
Last Friday, the Kodiaks took a 1-0 lead after the first period, padding their advantage to 3-0 after 40 minutes, then moving ahead 4-0 at the 6: 43 mark of the third frame.
Fiset said the Flames had two glorious chances to score in the first and second periods, but couldn't capitalize.
MacLean Hewitt scored the first two goals for the Kodiaks. Kenny Prato and Adam Callegari made it 4-0 for the visitors before Ridge Meadows' Marco Ballarin ruined Aldergrove netminder Mark Menicucci's shutout bid at the 7: 56 mark of the third period.
Forty-five seconds later, Aldergrove's Samuel Ramsey scored to restore the Kodiaks' four-goal lead.
Travis Oddy scored the Flames' second goal of the night at the 12: 14 mark.
With eight seconds to go in the game, Hewitt completed his hat trick with a power-play goal.
Counting their most recent win, the Kodiaks have dominated the season series with the Flames, winning all five meetings between the Fraser Valley rivals.
But Fiset remains confident that the Flames will give the Kodiaks a good go of it with the likelihood of the teams meeting in the playoffs.
"We know we'll be fine once we get to the playoffs," he said. "The last couple of years we always seem to meet them [the Kodiaks] in the playoffs and we feel this is our year. We feel this year we have just as good of a shot against them, even though we've struggled against them [this season]. They're just another team to play."
The Flames and Kodiaks met last night at Aldergrove Arena. The game got underway after the TIMES went to press.
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