After opening the Pacific Junior Hockey League playoffs with a promising 4-3 double overtime win over the Aldergrove Kodiaks, the Ridge Meadows Flames are flickering.
Their upset victory on Feb. 18 has been followed by three consecutive losses to the Kodiaks, who now lead the best-of-seven quarter-final series three games to one.
Saturday at Planet Ice Maple Ridge, the Kodiaks built a 5-0 first period lead, then scored the only three goals of the third frame in a lopsided 9-2 win over the Flames.
Kodiaks assistant coach Rick Harkins said the Flames had been double-shifting their top two lines, and with back-to-back games, he knew that would take a toll against a well conditioned Aldergrove club.
"We came out strong in that game, got a couple [of goals] early and just built off that," Harkins added.
The Kodiaks powerplay made the Flames pay.
Four of their five goals during the opening period came with the man advantage.
Overall, Aldergrove scored on five of 10 powerplay opportunities.
"We're keeping it in perspective," Flames coach Jamie Fiset said.
"When they get four goals all in the first period and all on the powerplay. we dug ourselves that kind of a hole that's hard to recover from. It was one of those nights where we had no bounces and everything seemed to go wrong."
The Flames will look to stave off elimination Wednesday (Feb. 27) at Aldergrove Arena. Opening puck drop is 7: 15 p.m.
"I think we'll be fine on Wednesday," Fiset said. "When you look at the first three games, game one if you look at the shots on goal [totals], it's misleading.
Game two we were happy with our performance. Game three - we should have won that game. We outshot them, we outplayed them, we hit posts, we had pucks laying in the crease, but we just couldn't put it in the net. In game four, we took the first five penalties and it took us out of the game. It was hard to recover."
The most recent Kodiaks' win was their most emphatic.
Daniel Higgs with two, Spencer McHaffie, Ryan Veillet, and MacLean Hewitt staked Aldergrove to a 5-0 advantage after 20 minutes of play.
The second period was the lone bright spot for the Flames, who outshot the visitors 12-6 and had a 2-1 edge in goals with a pair of markers from Matthew Bissett. Roshen Jaswal scored for the Kodiaks during the middle frame.
"They came back and took it to us in the second period and you could see our game changed a little bit," Harkins said. "We talked to them in the room about it [between periods] and they got back into it in the third."
Aldergrove retook momentum in the final frame with the only three goals of the frame.
Veillet, with his second of the night, Brandon Dolby, and Jackson Waniek rounded out the game's scoring.
Scott McHaffie collected four assists for the Kodiaks, while his teammate Joshua Cronin had three helpers.
Kodiaks 2, Flames 1
In a game dominated by defence, the visiting Kodiaks took a 2-0 lead into the third frame and held on for the victory Friday at Planet Ice.
After being badly outshot the first two games, the Flames turned the tables, firing 26 shots on goal to the Kodiaks' 16.
But the Kodiaks scored on two of their shots, off the sticks of Veillet in the first period and Kenny Prato in the middle frame.
Adam Bartsch scored the Flames' lone goal with 7: 48 remaining, but that was as close as the visitors would come.
Kodiaks 4, Flames 2
The Kodiaks were rewarded for the barrage of pucks they directed at Flames' goaltender Wesley McLeod, as they evened the series at a game apiece last Wednesday at Aldergrove Arena.
Aldergrove outshot Ridge Meadows 23-9 in the first period and managed to get three shots past McLeod to take a 3-0 into the first intermission.
Scott McHaffie, Adam Callegari, and Prato scored for the home team during the opening 20 minutes of action.
The Flames had a better second period and narrowed the margin to two goals after Travis Oddy scored to make it 3-1.
It took all of 32 seconds after the puck was dropped to start the third period for the Kodiaks to restore their three-goal lead, as Veillet scored on a powerplay to give Aldergrove a 4-1 lead.
The Flames' Connor Redmond found the net with 9: 35 remaining in regulation to round out the night's scoring.
Overall, the Kodiaks outshot the Flames 53-26.
Scott McHaffie was named first start of the game after scoring once and adding one assist.