Maple Ridge Junior squad wins season opener, home opener, then loses in a shootout.
The Ridge Meadows Flames are off to a fast start in their new campaign in the Pacific Junior Hockey League, with two wins and a shootout loss.
The Flames won 5-1 in Aldergrove in their season opener on Sept. 13. Zack Lagrange, fresh out of the Vancouver Giants WHL camp, was the game’s first star with two goals and an assist. Jacob Roche scored the first goal of his PJHL career to take the team’s Hard Hat Award, and last season’s team scoring leader Theo Kochan had a goal and an assist.
Goaltender Matthew Candusso got the win with 15 saves on 16 shots in his first games as a Flame.
riday, Sept. 15 was their home opener at Cam Neely Arena, and the hometown boys erupted for a 7-2 win over the Surrey Knights.
The Knights came out of the first period with a 2-0 lead, but then the Flames scored seven straight, thanks in large part to a power play that went four-for-eight.
Forwards Pierce Whyte and Kochan both scored twice, and were the game’s first and second stars respectively. Evan Fedel had three assists.
“We’ve got a really strong, really special group here this year. We’ve got a lot to prove,” Whyte said in a post-game interview with team broadcaster Andrew Cheverie. “We’ve got a lot of unfinished business in this league – this is just beginning.”
Whyte, a North Van product, was part of last year’s Flames squad that lost in the Stonehouse Cup league championship series.
Rookie Kieran Lige of Maple Ridge offered his thoughts on the home opener: “We really brought it tonight… had a couple of unlucky bounces in the first, but after that we really just stuck with it, and got the win.”
The defenceman joined the rush, pounced on a rebound, and scored his first PJHL goal in the home opener.
Vaughn Kaliel, from Grande Prairie, Alberta, was in net for the win, with 24 saves on 26 shots.
The Flames suffered a loss the next night when they took on the North Vancouver Wolf Pack at Harry Jerome Arena.
Ridge jumped out to a 3-0 lead over the first half of the game, but it was tied at three at the end of regulation, and they couldn’t score in the shootout.
A shootout loss is still good for a point in the standings, meaning the Flames have taken five of six possible points so far.
Whyte, Lagrange and Jacob Douglas scored for Ridge.
Lagrange is off to a fast start, leading the team with seven points on three goals and four assists, which puts the Pitt Meadows player among the top scorers in the PJHL.
The Flames are back in action on Wednesday night, when they travel to George Preston Arena to take on the Langley Trappers.
Their next home game will be Friday night, at Cam Neely Arena, when they host the Port Moody Panthers, who have three wins and two losses so far. Game time is 7:30 p.m.