The Ridge Meadows Flames were involved in a couple of squeakers last weekend.
The Flames edged the visiting Grandview Steelers 6-5 Friday (Dec. 14) at Planet Ice.
The next night (Saturday, Dec. 15) at the Harry Jerome Rec Centre, Ridge Meadows earned a single point in a 4-3 overtime loss to the host North Vancouver Wolf Pack.
The weekend results put the Flames record at 9-14-2-3, as they sit alone in third place in the Pacific Junior Hockey League’s Harold Brittain Conference.
They are 10 points back of the second-place Aldergrove Kodiaks (16-11-0-1) and a whopping 18 behind the frontrunning Abbotsford Pilots (20-6-0-2).
At the other end of the conference, the Flames have a healthy eight-point lead on the fourth-place Mission City Outlaws (6-19-1-2) and are 12 points clear of the last place Port Moody Panthers (5-21-0-1).
The Flames have two more games to play before their Christmas break.
On Friday, they are at the Mission Leisure Centre to play the Mission City Outlaws.
Then, Saturday, they are back at Planet Ice to host the North Vancouver Wolf Pack, with a 7:30 p.m. opening faceoff.
The Ridge Meadows squad hopes its offence will have the same kind of punch it did last weekend, said Flames’ head coach Jamie Fiset.
The Flames continue to struggle offensively, as the third lowest scoring league in the PJHL, with 78 goals for in 28 games. Only Mission City (73) and Port Moody (60) have scored fewer goals than the Flames.
“The old saying goes that defence is perspiration and offence is inspiration,” Fiset said. “I feel we have really good offensive weapons in our lineup, but we’re not firing offensively the way we can. We’re entering that point of the season where we’re looking for consistency.”
As the Flames head down the final stretch, they’re looking to have as much success versus teams in their own conference as they have had against Tom Shaw Conference foes.
“I think we play against the other conference better than we play against our conference,” Fiset said. “We have picked up points against every single team in that [Tom Shaw] conference.”
As a whole, Fiset, who is also the Flames’ general manager, is happy with the progress his team has made.
“You always want more wins but the biggest thing we’re looking for right now is just to develop some consistency,” he said. “We knew November was going to be a tough month as we tried different line combinations. We felt it was important to see what kind of team we will be [as the season progresses]. We don’t want to be a one dimensional team.”
Flames 6, Grandview Steelers 5
Most of the scoring in Friday’s matchup in Maple Ridge came in the opening period.
After the Flames’ Paul Piluso opened the scoring 5:33 into the game, the Steelers exploded for four unanswered goals, including three in a 1:27 span. During their mid-period goal-explosion, Grandview got goals from Quinn Lenihan and Vik Sanghera 12 seconds apart.
Fiset called a timeout to settle his troops.
“I said, ‘Look, we have lots of time to get back into the game. Let’s just focus on getting the next goal.’ I felt we had good pressure in the first period.
They scored a couple of goals in a row that took us by surprise and we didn’t respond quickly enough to address it. Once we did, we were okay.”
The Flames rallied with back-to-back markers from leading scorer Matthew Bissett which narrowed the home team’s margin to 4-3 before the period’s end. Bissett’s second of the period came with 34 seconds to go before the first intermission.
Fiset said the Flames played a much more attentive game in their own end during a second period in which they out-scored the Steelers 3-0.
Despite being outshot 13-9, the Flames moved ahead 6-4 on goals from Piluso (his second of the night), Nolan Wallinger, and Connor Redmond.
Wallinger’s and Redmond’s goals came 1:01 apart over the final two minutes of the stanza.
Just one goal was scored in the third frame, off the stick of Grandview’s Nicholas Hermary at the 16:12 mark. That was as close as the Steelers would get as they lost by one goal.
Fiset said that after a rough start, his team showed a lot of character on teddy bear toss night.
“Our power play was good, going 2-2, and that made all the difference,” the bench boss added.
The Steelers outshot the Flames 40-27. Ridge Meadows’ backup Wesley McLeod came into the game after Grandview moved ahead 3-1 in the first period.
He stopped 28 of 30 shots the rest of the way to earn the victory.
North Vancouver Wolf Pack 4, Flames 3
The Wolfpack took a 3-1 lead in the first period, before the Flames stormed back to tie the score.
North Van had a quick start to the contest with Gough scoring 19 seconds after the opening faceoff.
The Flames’ Sean Pesut made it 1-1 when he found the net at the 1:24 mark of the frame.
Powerplay goals from Marcus Houck and Quinton Blois gave the Wolf Pack a two-goal lead by period’s end.
The Flames’ Marco Ballarin scored the lone goal of the second period to narrow the visitors’ deficit to one.
Ridge Meadows had a quick start to the final frame, with Vitalik Morozov scoring 1:24 into the period to tie the game.
A shorthanded goal by North Vancouver’s Brett Gough at the 3:51 mark of the first overtime period lifted the Wolf Pack to victory.
The goal came 42 seconds after Gough’s teammate Benjamin McWilliams was sent off for high sticking.
Neither team managed to score the rest of the way, until Gough’s shorthanded marker early in the first overtime.
“I liked our game in North Vancouver better than our Friday night game,” Fiset said. “We dug ourselves a hole early on but we responded. [Goaltender] RJ Bruni came of the bench and played outstanding the rest of the game.”
Down by two after the first period of their second game in as many nights, the Flames could have easily “folded the tents,” Fiset said.
“We battled back to tie it and almost won in overtime,” he said.