Jr. B Flames bounce back

Goaltender Mackenzie Skapski turned aside 55 shots as the Ridge Meadows Flames got back on track Wednesday night, tying their best-of-seven playoff series with the Port Moody Black Panthers at one game apiece with a 4-1 win at home.“I felt like we should have won Monday night, but we got a 3-0 lead and we took it for granted,” said Flames coach Tavis Eaton of Game 1. “Last night, I thought we outworked them. They are a team that never gives up, so you have to out-work them.”Skapski earned first-star honours for his 55-save effort and will get the nod in net again tonight (Friday) as the Flames and Black Panthers face-off at Planet Ice for Game 3 of their Pacific International Junior Hockey League playoff series.“Mackenzie made the saves we needed him to make,” Eaton said. “He was solid, and we need him to be.”While the Black Panther’s shot total was high Wednesday night, Eaton noted that many of the shots were coming from the perimeter.“Defensively, I thought we played very well,” said Eaton. “Our guys kept them to the outside, and there wasn’t a lot of screens, so Mackenzie saw most of the shots the whole way.”The junior B hockey club was without defencemen Matthew Hargreaves, who will be back in the lineup this weekend, and Todd Fletcher who suffered an injury in the Flames last game of the season.Fletcher, 20, has missed all but two games this season with injury and won’t be ready to play for another three weeks.“I hope like hell we play long enough to get him back in the lineup,” said Eaton.The shortage of defencemen forced forward Lucas Douglas to play on the blue line Wednesday night.“He’s a 19-year-old rookie, and a great example of an older player who just never gives up,” said Eaton. “I thought he did great.”For the second game in a row, team captain CJ Legassic scored the game’s opening goal, just five minutes in. Linemate Dustin Cervo scored seven minutes later to give the Flames a 2-0 lead midway through the opening frame.The Black Panthers poured it on in the second period in an effort to chip away at the deficit, putting 25 shots on Skapski. Ryan Panichelli finally managed to get Port Moody on the board with a power play goal with four minutes left in the period.“The took it to us pretty good in the second,” said Eaton. The Flames answered the bell in the third period with Paul Piluso scoring four minutes in to re-establish the team’s two-goal lead. Douglas scored three minutes later to the game out of reach for the Black Panthers and ensure the 4-1 win for the Flames.Alexander Smith was named the game’s second star, and notched an assist in the winning effort, as did Matthew Bevilacqua, Reece Rivard and Dean Gilmore. Cervo finished with two points and the game’s third star honours.• The Ridge Meadows Flames face the Port Moody Black Panthers in Game 3 of their best-of-seven PIJHL playoff series at Planet Ice in Maple Ridge at 7:30 p.m.

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