The Flames returned to the States, and also resumed playing league games after playing in 8 tournament games over the past two weekends, including the visit to Ottawa, ON. In, normal, road game, fashion, the Flames made the trip to Everett, MA for an 8am showdown against the Raiders. Although the Flames never really seemed to click into gear as a cohesive unit this morning, they played well enough to win 3-0. The goaltending tandem of Anders Lindberg and Keenan Alnahas stayed red-hot, earning their 7th shutout of the season, stopping all 16 shots.
1st Period: It was apparent to me early on that this Raider team has improved. They were much more structured in their movement of the puck, and their methodical approach to working the puck up ice gained them more scoring opportunities. Even so, the Flames struck early with a goal in the first three minutes. Zachary Bayer rushed up the left-wing and beat the Raiders to their own net and scored by beating the goaltender up high. Patrick Goren and Sam Hebert made passes out of their own end in order to spring Bayer on his rush up ice. After one period, the Flames led 1-0 and held a slight 7-6 advantage in shots. The shots on net totals were somewhat misleading, as the Raiders piled up five shots on one power play.
2nd Period: In the second period, the Flames came together a little bit better, and really pressed the Raider players coming out of their own end. This created two things; for one thing, the Flames caused turnovers by pressuring the puck carrier. The second thing that came from the pressure was scoring chances. The Flames outshot the Raiders 10-3 in the period and doubled their lead on the scoreboard at 2-0. Wil Hebert scored an unassisted goal when he took over a shift as a one-man forechecking force. He picked off a puck at center ice, curled around a defender, and beat a couple of stick checks from retreating Raiders en route to the front of the net, where he buried his shot.
3rd Period: The Flames killed an early penalty in the final period, holding a two-goal lead while looking for some insurance. Insurance came when the Flames, after cycling the puck through a line change, scored a nice goal, set up by teamwork. Zachary Bayer got the goal, but the puck could have easily been pushed into the net by Kyle O’Flaherty, who was in the right place at the right time. Brendan Courtney had made a nice pass to set the whole thing up, and got the only assist on the goal. The score remained 3-0 through the final buzzer, and the Flames earned their 32nd win of the season.
On Tap: Sunday, Feb. 3: @ Nashua Pee Wee 2 – Skate 3 Blue – 10:50am. This is an important GSL game tomorrow morning. The Flames need points in the standings to solidify a playoff spot.