The Aldergrove Kodiaks’ first game of the PJHL’s opening round of playoffs was an all-out effort by both sides, with Kodiak captain Matt Oliver netting an impressive hat trick, but the Ridge Meadows Flames narrowly took a 7-5 win with an empty-netter in the dying minute.
Despite a 19-point lead in the regular season over the Kodiaks, the Flames were evenly matched in both the first and third periods. The Flames scored twice in the second period on power plays, but the Kodiaks successfully killed five other power plays while failing to score on their own five power plays.
The score was tied at 1-1 in the first and the Flames pulled ahead 5-3 in the second, but the Kodiaks pulled out all the stops and brought it to 6-5 for the Flames at 18:49 in the third. The Kodiaks pulled keeper Michael Lauriente in the final minute in an attempt to score the equalizer, but Flame Jonah Lige managed to take the puck into centre ice and put it in the empty net for the 7-5 win.
Oliver earned the game’s first star for his three goals and an assist that night. Also scoring for Aldergrove were Lucas Thompson and Kyle Bosko, with assists from Davin Padgham (3), Arjan Cheema, Bosko (3) and Nate Castonguay (2). Shots on goal were 39-32 for the Flames.
The next two games in the best-of-seven playoffs series will be at Ridge’s Planet Ice home this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with game four back at Aldergrove Arena on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 7:15 p.m.
In other playoffs games, the Langley Trappers fell 1-2 to Abbotsford Pilots in their opener on Feb. 14, while Delta Ice Hawks won their second game against the Grandview Steelers also on Feb. 14. Richmond Sockeyes and North Vancouver Wolf Pack open their series on Feb. 15 at Richmond Arena.