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March 26, 2017
Seventeen Kids Playing a Game

In what proved to be their final game of the season, the North River Flames fell by a score of 1-0 against a heavily favoured team from Tyne Valley.  Being already eliminated from advancing in the Provincial Championships, the Flames could have "mailed it in;" however, they played the entire game with heart and determination.  That is a credit to what lies inside of these players, and no doubt that attitude will carry forward in their hockey, personal, and professional lives.

I know I sometimes forget that these players are still just kids; seventeen kids playing a game, a game that they love.  Perhaps that came out on occasion in some of these write-ups this season, and for that an apology may be in order.  I suspect I'm not alone as a parent in, on occasion, getting my priorities wrong when it comes to minor hockey.  There's no arguing that you play the game to try and win; however I, for one, am going to try to place a little less importance on the outcome, and more on the fun, the sense of team, and the friendships forged that in many cases will last a lifetime.  When all is said and done, isn't that what this is all about? 

Instead of the usual game review, allow me to offer my very brief thoughts on each of these young men and what they brought to the team this season:

Goaltenders

#30: Dawson Doyle - cat-like reflexes, great glove hand, with a never-sat-die attitude

#35: Josh Smith - big presence in the net; strong performances game in and game out, and actually stole some games for his teammates

Defence

#2: Andrew Dooks - big, tough, stay-at-home defenceman with a wicked slapshot

#4: Jack Nordquist - hard working (never, ever quit on a play), was trusted to play in any situation

#5: Dylan Murphy - imposing D-man with a long reach, was really tough for opposing forwards to get around

#17: Malcolm MacDonald - not large in stature, but fast and not at all fun to play against (especially in front of the Flames net!)

#18: Matthew Mills - really big, really strong, really fast, really hard shot...you get the picture

#27: Will Mix - no nonsense, got the puck out of the zone quickly, with wonderful ability to contribute offensively


Forwards

#7: Connor Hennessey - ultimate power forward; fantastic scoring touch, with physicality

#9: Colby Adams - what he may be lacking in size (for now), he more than makes up for in heart and offensive creativity

#10: Aaron McCloskey - team Captain; quiet leader, mature, and with incredible hockey smarts

#11: Ryan McLaughlin - tough on the penalty kill and faceoffs, with great hands to contribute offensively

#12: Kyle Mason - big, tough, great jets, hard shot, and played with an edge

#14: Cole Taylor - this kid never took a shift off; ever!!!

#15: Bryce Wheatley - tall and strong, terrific work ethic, with a great knack for putting points on the board

#16: Shaun Henshall - incredible snapshot, one of the best in the league; a pure goal scorer

#22: Andrew Beach - fearless, hard-hitting power forward never gave opponents an inch; was always a threat to score

So that concludes the 2016-'17 season for the North River Flames Bantam AA team.  Thank you, boys, for putting on a great show!

 
March 26, 2017
Flames Drop Second Game of Provincials

The North River Flames hit the ice in their second game of the Provincial Championships in Tignish on Saturday afternoon, taking on an always tough Pownal Red Devils squad.  Dawson Doyle got the start in net for the Flames.

Less than two minutes in, Pownal set the tone by controlling the puck and then ringing one off the post.  Just seconds later, they opened the scoring with a shot that found the five-hole after a Flames turnover.  With 8:19 to go in the first period, North River took a tripping penalty, but tremendous work by Doyle and the penalty killers kept the Red Devils from capitalizing.  However, Pownal did indeed open up a 2-0 lead when, with 2:16 to play, a shot from the point eluded Doyle.  With under a minute left in the first period, Pownal was assessed a slashing penalty.  With no more scoring before the end of the first period, the Flames headed to the middle frame down two goals.

A Flames tripping penalty just 53 seconds into the second period negated the man advantage they had carried over from the first period.  After the expiry of the Pownal penalty, the boys from the east took a 3-0 lead when they buried a rebound while on the powerplay.  Despite being down by three relatively early in the game, Doyle fought back, making a particularly brilliant save with 9:33 to go in the middle stanza.  With just over nine minutes to go, Pownal was penalized again, this time for slashing.  With nothing doing on the Flames powerplay, a hard shot from the blueline by the Red Devils found the top corner with just over six minutes left in the period, giving Pownal a commanding 4-0 lead.  And that's how the period ended, with the Flames down by four.

A minute into the third period, a wonderful move by a Pownal forward allowed him to break in alone on the Flames net, and find the back of the net for a 5-0 lead.  Again, Doyle showed determination, making a miraculous pad save with eight minutes left in the game.  The remainder of the game was controlled by the Red Devils, and they were able to cash in three more times before the final buzzer sounded, giving them an 8-0 victory.

Player of the game for the Flames went to Cole Taylor, and Most Sportsmanlike was awarded to Andrew Dooks.

The Flames will take on the Tyne Valley Tornadoes later today in their third game of the Provincial Championships.

 
March 24, 2017
I'll Be Brief

With full apology to anyone expecting a lengthy diatribe detailing the ebb and flow, the back and forth, and the momentum swings of the North River Flames first game of the Bantam AA Provincial Championships versus Gulf Storm in Tignish...

It was a long drive.  It's late.  I'm tired.  I want to go to bed.  So here goes:

Despite two nifty seeing-eye goals by big D-men Matthew Mills (assisted by Bryce Wheatley) and Dylan Murphy (assisted by Malcolm MacDonald), as well as the to-be-expected great play by Josh Smith between the pipes, the Flames lost to Gulf Storm by a score of 3-2.  It was a game that was highlighted by (a) neither team being able to mount any consistent attack, and (b) a referee with a head contact fetish. This game had more head contact than on an average Saturday morning at the Hair Shop in the Cornwall Plaza.

Player of the game was MacDonald, and Most Sportsmanlike Player went to Ryan McLaughlin.

The Flames are back at it tomorrow at 1:45 against the Pownal Red Devils, and then at 5:30 against the Tyne Valley Tornadoes.

Good night.

 
March 16, 2017
Flames Close Out Regular Season with Loss

The North River Flames closed out the regular season with a Wednesday evening tilt against the Tyne Valley Tornadoes at the APM Centre.  Josh Smith got the nod in net for the Flames.

The first several minutes of the game were marred by many errant passes by both teams, and with a third of the period gone, the game was still awaiting its first quality scoring chance.  On the other hand, what was noticeable was the physical play by both teams, with the likes of North River's Kyle Mason throwing his weight around.  With just over seven minutes to play in the period, the ice was broken when the Tornadoes pounced on a turnover at their blue line and broke in on Smith free and clear, burying the opening goal.  For much of the rest of the game, unfortunately, breaking out of their own end presented a real challenge for the home side.  With 4:50 left on the clock, Smith made a brilliant pad save to keep the score 1-0.  However, just moments later a deflected shot from the blue line found its way to the back of the Flames net, giving Tyne Valley a 2-0 lead.  Just two minutes later, the Tornadoes opened up a three goal lead when they capitalized on a rebound.  Tyne Valley really had things rolling, and kept the Flames pinned in their own zone for what seemed like forever.  With thirty seconds left, the Flames were given a respite when the visitors from up west were penalized for interference.

With the penalty carrying over into the second period, the Flames could not cash in on the powerplay.  In fact, just seconds after the expiration of that penalty, the Flames took one of their own.  Then, with 7:54 showing on the clock, both teams were whistled for roughing.  The Tornadoes eventually scored a goal while on the powerplay after some nice passing and a terrific short-side shot.  With less than five minutes left in the second frame, North River was called for a tripping infraction.  Then, the Flames went down five skaters to three after a two-minute head contact penalty.  Determined work by the penalty killers allowed the Flames to escape the disadvantage unscathed.

A Tyne Valley penalty carried over from the second period, followed by another penalty call just nine seconds into the third period, gave the Flames a 5-on-3 advantage of their own.  However, a stingy Tornadoes defence thwarted any chances the Flames created.  With 7:30 to play in the game, a great pass from Connor Hennessey to Landon Hardy nearly resulted in North River finally getting on the board.  Meanwhile, at the other end of the ice, Smith steadied the ship and clearly made the third period his best of the game.  This was put on display by the save of the game with 5:55 to go, when the Flames goaltender made an incredible, head-scratching save after a wild scramble.  With time winding down, the Tornadoes scored a meaningless goal to make the final score 5-0, after a smart-looking passing play that Carey Price would have had no chance on.

And so, that spells the end of the regular season for the Flames, and now it's on to Tignish for the Provincial Championships, to be held from March 24-26.  Here's hoping it was a case of the Flames getting this lacklustre effort out of their systems, and the boys will go into Provincials with a positive, fresh 
outlook.

 
March 14, 2017
Flames and Red Devils Skate to a Draw

On Monday evening in Pownal, the Devils battled the Flames (which seems kind of strange to say) in one of the last games before the playoffs.  Dawson Doyle was back between the pipes for the Flames.

The visitors got off to a very quick start, when Connor Hennessey fired a shot by the Red Devils goalie less than a minute into the game; Bryce Wheatley picked up the assist.  From that moment on, it was obvious that the boys from North River really came to play on this night.  However, with Pownal being a very formidable foe, the Flames soon found themselves under a great deal of pressure for several minutes of play. Thankfully for North River, Doyle was really on his game this night.  One of the Flames goalie's best saves of the game came with 8:45 to go in the first period, when he kicked out his left pad with amazing quickness. With 5:33 showing on the clock, the Flames were handed an interference penalty.  Doyle continued his stellar play, and the best scoring chance during the powerplay actually went the way of the Flames, with Hennessey barely missing on a clear breakaway.  The penalty was successfully killed off, but Pownal continued to press for the tying marker.  Eventually, the Red Devils did tie the game on a wraparound goal with just over two minutes to play in the period; and that's how the period ended, with the teams deadlocked at one.

A mere six seconds into the second period, Doyle was called upon to stop a clear breakaway, and did so with a terrific save.  The fact that the Flames were on a mission to get the win was not lost on those in attendance; tough, aggressive play and hard skating was on full display all night.  Despite this, the Red Devils took a 2-1 lead with 8:15 left in the period, after a lovely passing play that Doyle had no chance on.  Moments later, however, the game was tied again when Aaron McCloskey banged one home after a wild scramble in front of the Pownal net; the assists went to Shaun Henshall and Ryan McLaughlin.  Two minutes later, North River took a 3-2 lead when Cole Taylor pounced on a rebound and found the twine; Kyle Mason and Matt Mills assisted on the goal.  In what became a see-saw affair, Pownal tied the game with 4:40 to go on a hard-luck deflection. The pressure continued in the Flames end, but Doyle put on a display that had the spectators on their feet. With 1:16 left in the second period, Henshall restored North River's lead with a marvelous goal after dekeing out the Devils netminder; the assists went to Mills and McLaughlin.  With time winding down in the period, Pownal was penalized for slashing; however, the Flames could not cash in before the horn sounded.

The home squad eventually killed off the penalty, and Doyle was once again under relentless attack from the Red Devils.  With 8:56 to play in the game, North River took a penalty for boarding, but that penalty was killed off as well after more unbelievable play by Doyle.  The Flames seemed to have it made in the shade when, with just 2:59 to play, the Red Devils were penalized for interference.  A goal by North River would have certainly sealed the deal, but the Pownal penalty killers were equal to the task.  Then, with just under a minute to play, a mysterious too-many-men penalty was called against the Flames, the likes of which hasn't been seen since game 7 of the 1979 semi-finals between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens.  With the crowd buzzing over this phantom call, the Red Devils pulled their goalie, giving them a 6-on-4 advantage.  Despite their best efforts, the Flames penalty killers couldn't get the puck deep into the Pownal zone, and it cost them; with just 14 seconds left, another hard-luck goal was scored by the Red Devils, when a shot from the point was defelected past Doyle by an errant stick.  The game ended in a hard-fought 4-4 tie, but clearly the Flames deserved a better fate on this night.  A strange call in the dying moments of the game was the North River boys undoing, but that's how the game goes sometimes. Player of the game for the Flames was Henshall.

The Flames final game of the regular season will be on Wednesday evening at 7:20, when they take on Tyne Valley at the APM Centre.

 
March 13, 2017
Flames Upended by Norsemen

Continuing their road swing, the North River Flames took to the ice on Sunday evening in Souris, in a tilt with the Montague Norsemen.  Dawson Doyle manned the crease for the Flames.

Just 52 seconds into the game, the Norsemen opened the scoring when a shot from the left circle deflected off Doyle's trapper and into the back of the net.  No more than a minute later, a giveaway in the North River end nearly resulted in another Montague goal.  With 8:05 left in the first period, Doyle made a brilliant save on a clear breakaway.  This seemed to ignite the Flames, as seconds later, Matt Mills tied the game with a hard shot from the blueline; Aaron McCloskey picked up the assist.  Then, with under six minutes to go, Andrew Beach gave North River a 2-1 lead when, showing no fear in going to the dirty parts of the ice, he buried one from directly in front of the net; the assists went to Shaun Henshall and Mills.  The lead was short-lived, however, as the Norsemen responded with a goal of their own less than a minute later.  Then things really turned for the worse for the Flames, as the host team scored twice more as the clock wound down, first on a partial breakaway, and then by poking home a rebound.  At the end of a furious first period, the Norsemen lead by a score of 4-2.

With 10:13 to go in the second period, Josh Smith, who took the reins in goal, made a great point blank save. Then, big forward Kyle Mason went awkwardly into the boards in the Montague end, and remained on the ice for several minutes.  Thankfully, Mason did return for his next shift.  At that point, and in contrast to the non-stop action in the first period, the game seemed to slow to a crawl.  With 3:46 left in the period, North River took the first penalty of the game.  Great penalty killing work, as well as a couple of outstanding saves by Smith, allowed the North River squad to successfully kill off the penalty.  The period ended with the Flames still down by two goals.

With 9:33 left on the clock, Montague was penalized for boarding, and it seemed like a case of "now or never" for the Flames.  Despite their best efforts, nothing came of the powerplay for the visitors.  With under six minutes to play in the game, Colby Adams had a quality chance to score and got off a good shot after a feed from Connor Hennessey; however, the Norsemen netminder was equal to the task.  Back-to-back penalties to the Norsemen, the second of which was the result of a nasty-looking head butt, again yielded nothing in terms of scoring for North River.  With the Flames net empty and just 39 seconds left to play, Montague iced the game, making the final score 5-2.

The Flames are back on the ice on Monday at 7:40, when they'll take on the Red Devils in Pownal.

 
March 11, 2017
Flames Top Falcons

The North River Flames hit the road on Saturday, taking on the Sherwood Falcons at Cody Banks Arena. Josh Smith got the goaltending assignment for the Flames.

Looking as bright as the Florida sun in their away reds, the Flames started the fivesome of Shaun Henshall, Ryan McLaughlin, Aaron McCloskey, Jack Nordquist, and Andrew Dooks.  Things started out on the wrong foot, however, with the Falcons opening the scoring less than a minute in on a rebound goal. Smith bounced back with a wonderful pad save just moments after Sherwood opened the scoring, but it looked as though this might turn into a real Mickey Mouse affair when a scramble in front of the North River net resulted in another Sherwood goal and a sudden 2-0 lead for the home team.  Less than a minute after that, however, Kyle Mason flew down the right side of the ice and buried a shot to the bottom corner, cutting the lead in half; the goal went unassisted.  With just under three minutes left to play in the opening period, Sherwood was penalized for slashing.  The Flames made the Falcons pay for their misdeed, when Bryce Wheatley fired home a wicked slapshot from the left circle, tying the game at two; Ben Jenkins picked up the assist.  At the end of the first period, the game was deadlocked at 2-2.

For the first minute of the second period, Mason, Andrew Beach, Cole Taylor, Will Mix, and Matt Mills applied incredible pressure, with several good scoring chances for the Flames.  Aggressive play by North River continued, and eventually resulted in a goal by Mills, when his slapshot from the point was deflected by a Falcons player and went bar-down; no assists were credited on the goal.  With the Flames now leading by a score of 3-2, this game was becoming a real roller coaster ride.  Meanwhile, at the other end of the rink, Smith was doing terrific work guarding the North River cage.  With five minutes left in the period, Henshall took a hard cross-check to the back, and the lack of a penalty call seemed a bit goofy. The Flames were penalized for tripping with 3:44 left in the period; however, the visitors were successful in killing off the penalty, and the period ended with the Flames clinging to a precarious 3-2 lead.

With Smith continuing to provide very steady play in net, the Flames pressed for the insurance marker. That nearly came with 9:03 to go in the period, when McLaughlin barely missed converting after a nice pass from McCloskey.  At that point, Sherwood began to press for the equalizer, and were given help when the Flames took a penalty for slashing with 6:06 showing on the clock.  After those fireworks, tremendous penalty killing by North River kept the Falcons from tying the game.  However, it seemed as though the clock just may strike midnight on this Cinderella story, when the Flames were penalized yet again with just 3:55 left in the game. But, true to form, the Flames penalty killers were determined to not let this one slip away, and successfully killed off the penalty.  With thirty seconds remaining, the Falcons pulled the goalie in favour of an extra attacker.  With just ten seconds to go, another penalty was called against the Flames.  The boys from North River won the all-important faceoff, Mason collected the puck, flew down the left side, and buried the clincher into the open cage; the goal went unassisted.  At the sound of the horn, the final score was North River 4, Sherwood 2.  Here's hoping this great team effort is an indication of things to come, and perhaps will spell a magical ending to the season.

The Flames are back on the ice on Sunday at 7:40 in Souris.

 
February 26, 2017
Big Win, Followed by Tough Loss

The Flames were back in action on Saturday afternoon, taking on the Moncton Hawks, in a must-win if they wanted to advance to the cross-overs in the Dieppe tournament.  Josh Smith was back in net for the Flames, and the game was played on the larger-than-normal Olympic-sized ice.

Smith was sharp early, making a great blocker save.  The Flames goaltender then stoned a Hawks player on a clear breakaway.  Pressure in the Flames zone continued for several minutes, but Smith stood his ground. Suddenly, with less than a minute to play, Bryce Wheatley found the back of the net with a shot to the five-hole, giving North River a 1-0 lead heading into the second period.

The second period saw the intensity of the game really increase, with both teams pressing for a marker.  That marker went the way of the Flames, when a shot from Shaun Henshall eluded the Hawks goalie.

In the third period, the Flames got into penalty trouble, but a tremendous short-handed goal by Kyle Mason, while down two men, gave North River what seemed to be a comfortable 3-0 lead.  Just seconds later, the Hawks struck, closing the gap to 3-1.  Then, with five minutes to go, Moncton scored again on a sharp-
angle rebound, closing the gap to 3-2.  With a berth in the cross-overs on the line, the fans held their breath for the final few minutes of the game.  Those frantic final few minutes included a missed breakaway chance for the Flames, amazing, heart-stopping saves by Smith, and a penalty for North River that was from the "ultimate in bad timing" department.  Alas, the Flames managed to hang on in one of the most thrilling games of the year, and punch their ticket to the cross-overs on Sunday morning.  Mason was awarded player of the game.

In the cross-overs, again on the bigger ice, Dawson Doyle got the nod to start in net, against an imposing-looking team from Dieppe.  Doyle showed his agility early on, with a quick shoulder save of a hard wrist shot. That was followed soon after by another save by the Flames netminder on a partial breakaway.  The  hometown squad kept attacking, and eventually broke the ice on a breakaway goal.  Less than a minute after that, the score became 2-0 on a rebound goal by Dieppe.  A subsequent powerplay for the Flames did result in some good scoring chances, but the road to disappointment is paved with missed opportunities.  Before the period ended, Dieppe opened up a three-goal lead on a seeing-eye shot that eluded Doyle.

In the second period, a couple of powerplays early on in favour of North River again resulted in, well, nothing. However, with 7:33 to go, Shaun Henshall got the Flames on the board with a nice shot from the slot.  That was followed by a short-handed goal by Bryce Wheatley to get the Flames right back in the game.  And then, the wheels really started to come off for North River in terms of taking penalties, and that eventually became their downfall.  Before the period ended, Dieppe cashed in twice more, to see them head to the third period with a 5-2 lead.

Just a minute into the third, a one-timer goal for Dieppe gave them a big four-goal cushion.  The scoring was closed out mid-way through the period, when the host team banged in a rebound, making the score 7-2.  The remainder of the game can be summed up in one word: penalties.  North River took a tough defeat at the hands of a strong, skilled team; no doubt, they were deserving winners.  Player of the game was Henshall.

It was a disappointing finish to what was an exciting tournament for the Flames.  Hopefully the boys can take some positives from this tournament (and there were many) into the stretch run of the regular season.

 
February 26, 2017
A Tale of Two Games

On Friday, the Flames played two games to open up the Dieppe tournament at St. Anselme Arena.  In the first game, the opponents were the York West Hawks; Josh Smith tended goal for North River.

Despite early pressure and a Flames penalty, Smith held the fort.  Mid-way through the first period, a turnover was snagged by Aaron McCloskey, who fed the puck to Connor Hennessey, who promptly fired the puck home for a 1-0 lead.  With less than two minutes to play, Shaun Henshall, who has emerged as a real sniper, found the top corner and gave the Flames a 2-0 lead heading into the second period.

The second period saw a rash of penalties being handed to the Flames; however, great work by the penalty killers, coupled with calm, steady play by Smith, kept the lead at two.

An early powerplay for North River in the third period was unsuccessful.  As the period wore on, it became a case of "hold on" for the Flames, and tenacious play by all of the d-men allowed the Flames to do just that.  A series of penalties to both teams as time wore down amounted to nothing, and the result was a hard-earned 2-0 win for North River.  From the opening puck drop, it was obvious that the Island boys really wanted this one.  Player of the game for the Flames, Colby Adams, displayed this determination all game long.

The second game for the Flames was against Kent-Sud, and Dawson Doyle was between the pipes this time. Despite some sharp saves early on by Doyle, Kent-Sud did open the scoring three minutes into the game with a short-side goal.  A subsequent powerplay for North River resulted in "nothing doing."  However, while they were on a powerplay of their own, Kent-Sud did cash in to take a 2-0 lead on a beautiful mid-air defelection. With just seconds remaining in the period, the squad from the mainland went up by three on a hard shot to the bottom corner.

In the second period, a powerplay for North River again went unrewarded.  Meanwhile, Doyle was standing on his head, doing all he could to give his team a chance.  More penalties followed, and eventually Kent-Sud broke through with a powerplay goal on which Doyle had no chance.  Things really took a turn for the worse when Kent-Sud scored again just 10 seconds later.

Trailing 5-0 in the third period, North River began to mix it up physically, perhaps showing some frustration. Eventually, two players were ejected from the game (one from each side) for a lot of pushing, shoving, and general unpleasantries.  Mid-way through the third, Kent-Sud scored again, on the powerplay, basically sealing the deal.  When the final buzzer sounded, the Flames fell by a score of 6-0, and Doyle was awarded with player of the game (deservedly so).  The Flames will have to win their third game tomorrow for a chance at making the cross-overs.

 
February 23, 2017
Flames Downed by Red Devils

The North River Flames were looking to bounce back after two recent road losses, when they hosted the Pownal Red Devils on Wednesday evening at the APM Centre.  Josh Smith got the starting goalie gig.

Both teams got off to a sluggish start, with very few quality chances early on for either side.  The first opportunity to break the ice went to Pownal, when the Flames were penalized for cross-checking with 7:14 to go in the opening period.  A little over a minute later, the Flames found themselves down five skaters to three when they took another penalty, this time for slashing.  Dogged work by the penalty killers, including Smith, kept the Red Devils from opening the scoring on the powerplay.  With time winding down in the period, a beautiful rush by defenceman Will Mix resulted in a spectacular goal to give North River a 1-0 lead; the goal went unassisted.  With under 20 seconds to play, the Flames were penalized again, this time for holding. However, the buzzer sounded and the Flames held a 1-0 lead.

The penalty that was carried over from the first period was killed off by the Flames, allowing the home side to maintain a one-goal advantage.  Smith continued his rock-steady play, calmly turning aside every shot fired his way.  With 8:15 left in the second period, Matt Mills threw a thundering open-ice hit that got the attention of everyone in the building.  Things really seemed to be going North River's way, until, with 6:05 showing on the clock, the visitors tied the game after pouncing on a rebound in front of Smith.  Just thirty seconds later, the Flames were called for interference; one could sense a feeling of "oh oh" among the North River faithful. That "oh oh" moment quickly turned into an "oh no" moment, when Pownal took a 2-1 lead on a similar-looking goal to their first.  The Flames had a chance to tie things up before the period ended, as they went on the powerplay with under three minutes to go.  However, nothing came of the man advantage, and the period ended with the Red Devils clinging to a 2-1 lead.

The first few minutes of the third period were highlighted by a promising-looking rush by Kyle Mason being turned aside, and a great defensive play by Malcolm MacDonald keeping a shifty Red Devils forward from breaking in alone on Smith.  With 7:07 left to play, North River lost a battle for the puck along the boards in their own end, and it cost them, as Pownal fired the puck home for a 3-1 lead.  With 5:39 to go in the game, any chance of a Flames comeback was effectively thwarted when they were penalized for four minutes for head contact.  Less than a minute into the powerplay, the Red Devils took a commanding 4-1 lead; worse yet, since the original penalty was for four minutes, the visiting side remained on the powerplay for another two minutes.  Those remaining two minutes, however, were killed off by the Flames.  With under ten seconds to play, a turnover in the Pownal zone was collected by Mason and fired to the glove side, making the score 4-2; Andrew Beach got the assist on the play.  And that's how the game ended, with the Flames falling by a score of 4-2.

The Flames next time on the ice will be this weekend, when they head across the bridge to take part in the Dieppe tournament.

 
February 20, 2017
A Weekend at the Movies

Are you familiar with the movie Groundhog Day?  You know, that flick from the early 90's starring Bill Murray, whose character unwittingly enters some funky time warp, causing him to re-live the same day over and over, seemingly for eternity?  Poor Bill; we kind of know how you feel now.

On Saturday, the Flames travelled to Tignish to take on the Aces, just a day after making the same long trek and falling by a score of 2-0.  Dawson Doyle, back from an illness, tended goal for North River.

In keeping with the start to last night's game, both teams began the game with fairly sloppy play; Groundhog Day.  Unfortunately, the apparent lack of urgency on the part of the Flames from last evening, also carried over into this contest; Groundhog Day.  With 8:26 to go in the first period, the Aces were handed an interference penalty.  Unfortunately, the Flames powerplay continued its anemic ways, and couldn't capitalize; Groundhog Day.  With just over six minutes left in the period, the Flames took a roughing penalty; thanks to steady play by Doyle, and tenacious penalty killing, Tignish could not cash in on their powerplay.  While North River did manage a handful of shots on goal, they were mostly the familiar, non-threatening shots from well outside of the scoring area; Groundhog Day.  In the waning seconds of the first period, the Aces opened the scoring by banging in a rebound after the Flames could not clear the zone.  As per last night's game, after one period of play, Tignish lead by a score of 1-0; Groundhog Day.

The second period began with both sides stepping up their physical play.  Bodies flew, heated words were exchanged, but nothing could be mustered in terms of goal scoring for either team.  With 7:20 to go, Doyle made an outstanding glove save, maintaining the one goal defecit.  The middle part of the period clearly saw the ice being tilted in the Aces favour.  With 3:32 to play in the period, Tignish took another penalty, this time for interference.  The line of Cole Taylor, Ryan McLaughlin, and Kyle Mason did create some opportunities, but the boys were not able to convert on the powerplay.  With 56 seconds left on the clock, Tignish opened up a two-goal lead when a shot that careened off the end boards ended up in front of Doyle, and fired into the back of the net by an Aces forward.  After two periods of play, the Flames were still unable to solve the Tignish goaltender; Groundhog Day.

Just seconds into the third period, a beautiful rush by the Aces resulted in a highlight reel goal, giving the home side a sudden 3-0 lead.  Only twenty seconds later, North River was penalized for hooking.  It was apparent that, like last night, the Flames were struggling with containing the Aces speed; Groundhog Day.  While on the powerplay, Tignish cashed in again, giving them a quite comfortable 4-0 advantage.  Perhaps the Flames best chance to score came with 7:42 left in the game, when Colby Adams found himself alone on the Aces doorstep, only to be stoned by the netminder.  Then, with under seven minutes left in the game, all heck broke loose in front of Doyle; with fists-a-flyin' and sticks scattered on the ice, both sides lost two players to game misconducts.  Meanwhile, the Flames goaltending continued to be (once again) stellar, while their scoring punch was non-existant; Groundhog Day.  A couple of slashing penalties (one for each team) closed out the entries on the game sheet, and the buzzer sounded with the Aces emerging victorious by a score of 4-0.

Another road loss.  Another loss to the Aces.  Another shutout.

Curse you, Bill Murray.

 
February 18, 2017
Flames Lose in Tignish

On a drifting, dark night, the North River Flames headed west to take on the Tignish Aces on Friday evening. Unfortunately, the Aces turned out to be the kind of hosts whose party you wished you'd never showed up to: they were stingy with the appetizers, the steak was tough to cut through, and the drive home afterwards was depressing; in this case, the appetizers were scoring chances, the steak was the Aces defence, and the drive home was, well, the drive home from Tignish.

Josh Smith was in net once again for the Flames, with Dawson Doyle under the weather.  Following a sluggish start by both sides, the Flames were penalized for too many men on the ice with 10:28 to go in the period. Less than a minute later, the Aces pounced on a rebound and fired home a backhander to the top corner to take a 1-0 lead.  Moments later, the line of Colby Adams, Connor Hennessey, and Aaron McCloskey nearly tied the game, but the Tignish goalie was equal to the task.  With 7:25 to go, the Aces were penalized for holding.  Despite the man advantage, the Flames were unable to mount any threat of an attack.  At the other end of the rink, Smith did his level best to keep his team in the game, and the Flames escaped the first period trailing 1-0.

Less than a minute into the second period, the Flames were penalized for roughing; however, tremendous penalty-killing work prevented Tignish from opening up a two-goal lead.  Mid-way through the period, Smith made a wonderful skate save on a one-timer, followed immediately by a partial breakaway chance for Hennessey that nearly ended up tying the game.  Moments later, the recently-returned Shaun Henshall took a thunderous check along the boards, but bounced right back up and got back in the play.  Tignish was assessed a two-minute head contact penalty with less than five minutes left in the second period, but the Flames powerplay was frittered away by a needless interference penalty a minute later.  At the end of the second period, the score remained 1-0 for Tignish.

As the third period rumbled along, Smith was doing what he always seems to do; holding his team in the game.  With 9:19 to go, Hennessey had two great chances to score, but couldn't find the back of the net; the Aces goalie continued to shine for the entire game.  Just before the six minute mark, a shot from the 
blueline, on which Smith was screened, deflected off a body in front of Smith and found its mark, giving the home side a 2-0 lead.  Despite a late penalty to Tignish, the Flames were unable to take advantage, and the game ended with a 2-0 victory for the Aces.

After a great effort by the Flames two nights earlier, tonight's contest was disappointing at best.  North River will need to re-group, as they'll be right back in Tignish on Saturday for a 5:00 tilt.

 
February 16, 2017
Flames Make it Two in a Row With Win Over Norsemen

The North River Flames were looking to make it two wins in a row on Wednesday evening, when they entertained the Montague Norsemen at the APM Centre.  Josh Smith got the starting assignment in goal.

Right from the opening faceoff, it was clear that North River was a different team from what we've seen for most of the season.  Aggressive, attacking play, relentless pursuit, and effective forechecking were on full display by the Flames in this evening's tilt.  Just two minutes in, Connor Hennessey had a partial 
breakaway opportunity thwarted by a nice save by the Norsemen goaltender.  There was no let up from the Flames in the first period; they played desperate hockey, controlled the flow of the game, and were the more physical of the two teams, without crossing the line into foolish penalties.  Between the pipes, Smith was his usual steady-as-a-rock self.  The Norsemen did, however, break the ice with a rebound goal with 4:02 left in the first period, after winning an all-important faceoff in the Flames end.  The first period closed out with Montague ahead 1-0, but with the Flames holding the edge in shots by a count of 11-9.

The Norsemen threatened to open up a two-goal lead early in the second period, when a wild scramble ensued in front of Smith; however, somehow the puck stayed out.  With 9:40 to go in the period, Smith came to the rescue once again when he made a stellar save on a clear breakaway.  Just a minute later, Hennessey tied the game for North River when his shot from the side of the net tickled the twine; Colby Adams picked up the assist.  The Norsemen stormed back and created another flurry of scoring chances, but Smith was equal to the task with two brilliant saves.  With 5:38 to play in the period, Montague was handed a checking from behind penalty, which included a player being ejected from the game.  While on the powerplay, the Flames took a 2-1 lead when Malcolm MacDonald's shot from the point was deflected home by Bryce Wheatley.  With just over two minutes left in the period, North River was penalized for cross-checking.  Smith was soon called upon to make an unbelievable point blank save, only to have the Norsemen tie the game on a wraparound goal with 1:26 left in the frame.  Just seconds later, however, incredible breakaway speed by Landon Hardy lead to a highlight reel goal for the home side that was perhaps one of the prettier goals of the season for North River; the goal went unassisted.  After two furious periods of play, the Flames held a 3-2 lead, and the shots on goal were tied at 23.

Not long after the puck dropped to open the third period, Hardy again showed off his jets, nearly converting on a partial breakaway.  It was clear all evening that the Norsemen were having trouble controlling the speed of the Flames.  With 9:10 to play in the game, Kyle Mason gave the Flames a bit of insurance when he fired home a slapshot after collecting a rebound off the end boards; Cole Taylor and Ryan McLaughlin picked up assists on the play.  Approximately a minute later, Hennessey gave the Flames an even bigger cushion when he capitalized on yet another breakaway; Will Mix and Smith, who apparently wasn't satisfied with just playing stellar hockey in the crease, got the assists.  As the clock neared zero, tensions on the ice began to flare, with heated words being exchanged between both sides; when the dust settled, Montague was handed a penalty for charging, with a game misconduct thrown in for good measure.  When all was said and done, North River left the ice with a convincing 5-2 victory; the final shot total also favored the Flames, by a count of 37-33.  Player of the game for the Flames was MacDonald, who emerged from the dressing room sporting the ever-popular and snazzy-looking sport coat.

The strong consensus after the game was that this was perhaps the Flames finest effort all season.  A combination of aggressive play, speed, a willingness to move the puck, superb goaltending, and, perhaps most importantly, the ability to stay out of the penalty box (for the most part) while still playing with a bit of an edge, lead to a terrific victory over a very tough opponent.

The Flames will next take on Tignish on their home turf on Friday evening at 7:30.

 
February 7, 2017
Flames Bounce Back with Win Over Gulf Storm

The North River Flames hit the road on Sunday, for an afternoon tilt in Kensington against Gulf Storm.  Josh Smith got the assignment between the pipes for the Flames.

Less than two minutes in, the Flames were called for interference.  While on the powerplay, Gulf Storm struck for a goal when a wrist shot from the point was deflected past Smith.  For the next few minutes of play, it appeared that the Flames were trying to find their sea legs, and seemed to be playing catch-up to what looked to be a hungrier squad in Gulf Storm.  With 7:40 to go in the opening period, offsetting roughing penalties were assessed by the referee.  Gulf Storm continued to win the races to and battles for the puck, until, with 5:09 to play, Cole Taylor cashed in with a nice wrist shot to the top corner; Connor Hennessey picked up the assist.  With just under five minutes left in the period, Gulf Storm was penalized for interference; however, the powerplay yielded little in the way of good scoring chances for North River.  With time winding down, Jack Nordquist made a stellar defensive play with a blocked shot on a dangerous-looking rush by a Gulf Storm forward.  The first period closed out with the teams tied at one.

Early on in the second period, the Flames nearly took the lead when a shot by Malcolm MacDonald was deflected by Ryan McLaughlin, only to have the puck slide just inches wide of the post.  However, with 10:09 showing on the clock, the Flames did hit paydirt, when big defenceman Matt Mills buried a slapshot from the right point; assists went to Will Mix and McLaughlin.  With North River starting to move the puck with authority and the speed of the game picking up, the level of intensity in the building picked up with it.  With just over eight minutes to play in the period, the Flames took an interference penalty. However, fantastic penalty-killing work prevented Gulf Storm from tying things up.  While on the powerplay, Gulf Storm was penalized for four minutes for head contact.  This created a four-on-four situation, and with the extra open ice, the home side squared the match at two after a beautiful rush in on Smith and a quick shot to the bottom corner.  Later on in the period, while on a penalty kill, Gulf Storm took a 3-2 lead; Smith stopped the original breakaway attempt, but the rebound was fired home to give Gulf Storm a sudden one goal advantage.  The Flames rebounded, however, when Hennessey connected with a hard shot to the top corner with 2:06 to play in the second period, tying the game at three; Aaron McCloskey picked up the assist.  That set up a great finish, as the teams headed to the third period deadlocked.

The final frame could be summed up in one word: heated.  Just seconds into the period, both sides were penalized for roughing; no doubt, this game was getting emotional.  A minute later, more penalties were handed out, with both sides again being whistled for roughing.  Not to be outdone by what was happening on the ice, the Gulf Storm coaching staff was then handed a double-minor bench penalty.  At this point, North River really started to take control of the game, and with 5:29 to play, Colby Adams gave the Flames the lead for good with a nice wrist shot to the bottom corner after a nifty feed from McCloskey; Mix picked up the other assist.  The Flames flirted with danger by taking an interference penalty with 5:06 left, and, while on the powerplay, Gulf Storm came within a whisker of tying the game; a shot rang off the post, and then was deftly snagged by Smith.  With just over a minute to play and the Gulf Storm net empty, Smith made an incredible glove save to preserve the lead for the Flames.  At the sound of the horn, the scoreboard showed the Flames being victorious by a score of 4-3.

Player of the game for the Flames was Adams.

Next game for the Flames was undetermined at press time.

 
February 4, 2017
Flames Lose at Home to Falcons

The North River Flames played host to familiar foes the Sherwood Falcons on Wednesday evening, in front of a large crowd.  Dawson Doyle tended net for the home side.

Right off the hop, Colby Adams barely missed on a glorious chance from the slot, after a pass from Connor Hennessey.  For the first four minutes of the period, neither side seemed particularly sharp, with sloppy play and misdirected passes by both teams.  The ice was eventually broken by the Flames, when Andrew Beach smartly banked a shot in off the Falcon's goalie's back with 8:15 to play in the opening frame; Jack Nordquist picked up the assist.  That seemed to ignite the Flames, as the fivesome of Adams, Hennessey, Cole Taylor, Will Mix, and Matt Mills applied tremendous pressure in the Falcons end for an entire shift.  Just as it seemed North River would pot another goal to take control of the game, the Falcons squared the match at one, when they cashed in on a rebound.  Doyle was not fazed, however, and fought back with a series of stellar saves to keep the game tied.  The period wound down with the Three C Line (Colby, Cole, and Connor) again dominating play.  The buzzer sounded to signal the end of the period, with the teams tied at one.

The tone of the game certainly changed in the second period, with both teams turning to more physical play. The first half of the period can be summed up as fast, rough, and edgy.  With 6:40 to play, Sherwood took the lead, when a wild scramble in front of Doyle resulted in the puck somehow finding its way into the back of the net.  Unfortunately, one could see at least some of the wind being taken out of the Flames sails with that goal.  Just minutes after their second goal, the Falcons struck again, this time with a deflected wrist shot from the point that eluded Doyle; the Flames netminder could not be faulted for the goal, as he was also screened on the play.  With 2:20 to play in the period, the first penalty of the game was handed out, and it went to the Falcons.  Unfortunately, the Flames could mount nothing resembling a power play attack, and the period closed out with the visitors holding a 3-1 lead.

A minute into the final period, North River was penalized for interference.  Determined work by the Flames rsulted in a successful penalty kill, giving the home side a fighting chance to still make a game of it.  With 5:32 to play, it looked like the Flames would be going on the powerplay; however, after Sherwood was called for a penalty, the official then also sent a North River player to the sin bin.  Try as they might, the Flames could not muster up the desperate play needed to close the gap, and the Falcons skated away with a 3-1 victory.

Player of the game for the Flames was Kyle Mason.

Next game for North River will be on Sunday, February 5 at 3:00 in Kensington, when they take on Gulf Storm.

 
January 16, 2017
Flames Lose Third Game of Norsemen Tournament

The North River Flames took to the ice on Saturday afternoon, needing a win and some help from other teams to have any chance of advancing to the cross-overs in the Norsemen Tournament.  Today's opponent was the Sackville Flyers, and they'd be facing Josh Smith who was assigned to tend goal for the Flames.

From the onset, it was apparent that this would be a body-checking fest, with both teams not shying away from taking the body.  This close-checking yielded not much in the way of good scoring opportunities. However, with 2:43 to go in the opening frame, the Flyers broke the ice with a shot that found the five-
hole.  With just 28 seconds to play in the period, Sackville was penalized for tripping.  The Flames couldn't capitalize before the buzzer sounded, and the period ended with Sackville up 1-0.

The carried-over powerplay for the Flames went unrewarded, as North River continued to really struggle mounting much in the way of good offensive play.  As the game wore on, it became apparent that there was little to choose between these two teams.  The Flyers did seem to have more offensive punch, creating better scoring chances and moving the puck well with several tape-to-tape passes.  With 3:15 left in the period, North River took a roughing penalty.  Just seconds later, the Flames found themselves down five skaters to three when they were called for slashing.  Having killed off the first penalty, the Flames 
were saved by a great breakaway save by Smith with 1:41 to play in the middle frame.  That play resulted in a goalie interference penalty being handed to the Flyers.  When the penalties were all over, the score remained 1-0, thanks in no small measure to very steady play by Smith.

The first few minutes of the third period saw most of the play taking place in the neutral zone, with neither team breaking through with good scoring chances.  With 8:39 to play in the game, North River was penalized for boarding.  Again, Smith saved the day with a fantastic glove save.  That was followed shortly thereafter by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for Sackville, which in turn was followed by a four minute head contact penalty being handed to the Flames.  With less than four minutes left in the game, Smith made another stellar save, this time with his left pad.  The Flames were successful in killing off the four minute penalty, and with a minute left, Smith was pulled in favour of an extra attacker.  With just 30 seconds to go, a major scuffle erupted behind the North River net, resulting in both teams being handed two penalties.  The Flames did all they could to tie the game, but alas, their lack of offense let them down.  The final score was Sackville 1, North River 0, and meant the end of the line in the tournament for the Flames.

Players of the game for the Flames were Andrew Dooks, Ryan McLaughlin, and Bryce Wheatley.

For some inexplicable reason, the Flames have struggled mightily for much of the season to create scoring chances, let alone to find the back of the net. A total of two goals in three games spelled their doom in this tournament.  It's a riddle that has no clear answer; the Flames fanbase hopes it gets solved sooner rather than later.

 
January 15, 2017
Flames Lose Second Game of Norsemen Tournament

The North River Flames hoped to bounce back in their second game of the Norsemen Tournament on Saturday afternoon versus the Tignish Aces, after a disappointing showing the night before against the Pownal Red Devils.  Josh Smith was between the pipes for the Flames.

Less than two minutes into the game, North River was penalized for cross-checking.  The Aces did create a few chances on the powerplay, but Smith was equal to the task.  While on the man advantage, Tignish took a penalty of their own, committing a tripping infraction.  Neither team was able to capitalize on the 
four-on-four, and just seconds after the Tignish penalty expired, Colby Adams barely missed on a glorious chance when his deflection of a shot from Andrew Dooks sailed just inches wide of the net.  With 2:50 to play in the first period, Smith made an unbelievable, open net, diving stick save that was perhaps the save of the year, and a candidate for Highlight of the Night on TSN.  The buzzer sounded to end the first period, and the score was tied at zero.

Thirty seconds into the second period, Tignish was handed a four-minute penalty for head contact.  It was a case of nothing-doing for the Flames on the powerplay, and with 8:11 to play, North River took a penalty of their own, for slashing.  Both penalties were killed off, as the pace of the game really picked up; both teams were pressing hard for the opening goal.  With five minutes to go in the period, Matt Mills made a great defensive play, breaking up a dangerous-looking rush by the Aces.  With 2:29 to play, Smith made yet another stellar point-blank save, only to have the rebound batted into the back of the net.  After two periods of play, Tignish held a 1-0 lead.

The Flames spent much of the first half of the third period running around their own end, unable to clear the zone and mount any attack of their own.  Then, with 6:49 to play, Ryan McLaughlin appeared to have the tying goal on his stick, with an open cage in front of him, only to have the Tignish goalie make a desperation pad save to maintain the one goal lead.  With 5:24 to go, the Aces were penalized for roughing, but the North River powerplay was short-lived as they were given a two-minute penalty for head contact.  With 4:13 to play, Tignish won a crucial battle for the puck along the boards, and scored with a nice bottom corner shot.  Finding themselves down two goals with time winding down, the Flames began to play with some urgency.  The frenetic play paid off, when McLaughlin fed the puck to Cole Taylor whose shot rang off the post; the stray puck was collected by Aaron McCloskey, who banged the puck home to cut the score to 2-1.  Despite the Flames pulling the goalie and mounting a frenzied attack, it was a matter of too little, too late.  Final score: Tignish 2, North River 1.  Players of the game for the Flames were Smith, Taylor, and Mills.

The Flames play their third game of the tournament on Saturday afternoon at 4:10, against the Sackville Flyers.

 
January 13, 2017
Flames Lose Opener of Norsemen Tournament

The North River Flames opened up the 2017 Norsemen Tournament on Friday evening in the cozy confines of the Belfast Arena, taking on the Pownal Red Devils.

Josh Smith was in net for the Flames, and from the onset, he was the busier of the two goalies.  The Flames did have a quality scoring chance early on when Cole Taylor fired a hard shot from the right circle; however, the Pownal goalie made a nice pad save.  Despite more early play in the Red Devils end, actual shots on goal were as rare as a Big Foot sighting at an Elvis concert.  On the other hand, Smith was peppered with shots early and often; the ice was broken with 5:19 to play in the period, when a nice backhander by a Devils player found the bottom corner.  With 4:40 to go, Pownal was assessed a tripping penalty, but the powerplay was short-lived when the Flames took a tripping penalty of their own just 15 seconds later.  The resultant four-on-four yielded no goals for either side.  As time wound down in the opening frame, Smith made two wonderful saves from point blank range to keep the defecit to one.

Just 30 seconds into the second period, Ryan McLaughlin found himself alone on the doorstep, only to have his backhand shot turned aside.  Two minutes later, a nice passing play between Taylor and Bryce Wheatley created another good scoring chance, but again, the Flames came up empty.  Meanwhile, Smith continued to do what he could to give his team a chance to win.  Unfortunately, with under six minutes to play in the period, the puck somehow found it's way between the Flames netminder's pads, and sat there for a second before a Pownal player banged it home to open up a two-goal lead.  Perhaps this frustrated the Flames, as just moments later they were penalized for two minutes for head contact.  The potent Pownal powerplay took advantage of North River's misdeed, connecting on a smart passing play, and making the score 3-0.  Smith bounced back, making the save of the game with 3:00 to play on a 2-on-1 opportunity for the Red Devils.  To their credit, Pownal continued to press, and with under two minutes to play, a speedy forward was allowed to break in on Smith and score with a quick shot to the bottom corner. Before the period ended, Pownal took back-to-back penalties, creating a 5-on-3 advantage for the Flames, that carried over into the third period.  As the zamboni took to the ice for a flood, the Flames found themselves on the wrong end of a 4-0 score.

Despite having a two-man advantage, the Flames powerplay was still anemic, not able to muster anything in the way of good scoring chances.  With 9:33 to play in the game, North River was penalized for kneeing; the Flames did do a great job in killing off the penalty.  However, with just under four minutes to play, a pretty passing play by the Red Devils resulted in a fifth and final goal for the squad from Pownal.  Less than a minute later, the shutout was broken when Connor Hennessey scored off a rebound; Aaron McCloskey and Dylan Murphy picked up the assists.  While it may have been satisfying to finally find the back of the net, the Flames could not have been happy as the buzzer sounded and the scoreboard read Pownal 5, North River 1. Players of the game for the Flames were Murphy, Andrew Beach, and Will Mix.

The Flames are back on the ice on Saturday, when they take on Tignish at 12:40, and Sackville at 4:10; both games are at the Montague Wellness Centre.

 
January 5, 2017
Flames Drop Home Game to Tyne Valley

Coming off a good performance in which they tied the Pownal Red Devils, the Flames played host to another formidable foe on Wednesday evening, the Tyne Valley Tornadoes.  Dawson Doyle got the starting assignment in goal.

Things did not start out very well for North River, with the Tornadoes opening the scoring just two minutes in, capitalizing on a rebound.  For the next several minutes, neither team seemed to have a tremendous amount of jump, and passes that found the mark were few and far between.  Then, with 5:45 to play in the opening frame, Connor Hennessey was turned aside by a terrific glove save by the Tyne Valley goalie after a great rush up the middle by Matt Mills.  That missed chance ended up being costly, as just minutes later the Tornadoes opened up a two goal lead with a five-hole goal that may have been deflected.  As the clock wound down, North River began to apply pressure, but could not solve the opposing netminder before the end of the period.

Three minutes into the second period, the line of Hennessey, Colby Adams, and Bryce Wheatley created a great scoring chance after some nifty, unselfish passing; Adams found himself in great scoring position, however, the Tyne Valley goalie proved equal to the task.  With 7:50 to play in the period, defenceman Jack Nordquist took a tremendous hit along the boards in the Flames zone.  To his credit, Nordquist bounced back up and exacted revenge with a goal after a nice wrist shot from just inside the blueline, cutting the lead in half.  The goal went unassisted.  The excitement soon turned to concern when Nordquist left the ice just minutes after his goal, obviously as a result of the hard check he was dealt; he did not return to the game. Less than a minute after the Flames closed the gap, Tyne Valley struck again when one of their forwards picked up a rebound off the boards behind Doyle and fired the puck home, giving the visitors a 3-1 lead. Predictably, the game then took a physical turn, with both sides throwing body check after body check. Despite this, the benches in both penalty boxes remained as cold as the car seats when heading to 6:00 AM practice.

That all changed just seconds into the final period, when Tyne Valley took a slashing penalty.  The Flames did not convert on the powerplay, technically speaking, but Hennessey did score just as the penalty expired, trimming the defecit to one; Will Mix assisted on the goal.  For the next few minutes, Doyle kept his team in the game with several stellar saves.  However, a turnover at the Tyne Valley blueline lead to a 3-on-1 break for the visitors, and a fourth goal with 7:06 to play.  Both teams were then penalized with 5:39 to play in the game after a skirmish in front of the Tornadoes cage.  The final nail in the coffin was a fifth goal by Tyne Valley with less than two minutes to play.  As the final buzzer sounded, all heck broke loose in front of Doyle, with several punches being thrown and perhaps resultant suspensions.  This was an emotional finish to an emotional game.  Final score was Tyne Valley 5, North River 2.  Player of the game was Hennessey.

Next game for the Flames will be in the Norsemen Tournament, on Friday, January 13th at 8:50 PM when they take on Pownal in Belfast.

 
January 3, 2017
Flames Battle First Place Pownal to 3-3 Tie

The North River Flames got back on the ice on Monday evening, in a visit to Pownal to take on the first place Red Devils.  Josh Smith got the starting assignment in goal.

From the opening faceoff, it was clear that this was going to be a rough and tumble affair.  Just two minutes into the game, the Red Devils were penalized for boarding; however, the Flames were unable to capitalize, and the game remained scoreless.  In the middle section of the opening period, the tempo was quite high, with both teams displaying good speed.  The Flames line of Colby Adams, Landon Hardy, and Connor Hennessey moved the puck well, but quality scoring chances were rare.  With 3:41 to play in the period, the Flames were given a penalty for hooking, on a play that may have saved a goal as a Pownal forward was trying to break in on the North River net.  During the penalty kill, Smith made three outstanding saves to keep the Devils from cashing in on the powerplay.  After one period of play, the game was scoreless.

The second period was one of wild momentum swings; for minutes at a time, all the play would be in the Pownal end, and then the ice would tilt back the other way and Smith would be under attack.  The first goal of the game came off the stick of Flames forward Kyle Mason, who buried one top shelf with a nice wrist shot from the left circle with 9:47 showing on the clock; the goal went unassisted.  A minute later, Ryan McLaughlin rang one off the bottom of the cross-bar, coming within an inch of giving North River a two-goal lead.  As the Flames continued to dominate the play, Cole Taylor also came within a whisker of netting a marker of his own.  Half-way through the period, Pownal was handed a slashing penalty; however, the Flames again failed to score on the powerplay.  With 4:08 left, North River returned the favour, by taking a tripping penalty.  The host team took advantage, by scoring on a low shot to the corner; with 3:13 to play in the period, the game was tied at one.  Just 19 seconds later, a wild scramble in front of Smith resulted in another Pownal goal, giving the home side a sudden 2-1 lead.  With under two minutes left in the second period, the Red Devils were assessed a tripping penalty.  After two periods of play, Pownal lead by a score of 2-1, with their penalty carrying over into the third period.

The Flames were unable to score with the time left on their powerplay.  However, with 10:10 showing on the clock, McLaughlin found the back of the net after a terrific feed from linemate Aaron McCloskey, tying the game at two; Andrew Dooks also picked up an assist on the play.  A mere 18 seconds later, McLaughlin tallied again when he banged one home from the side of the net, handing the lead right back to North River; assists went to McCloskey and Malcolm MacDonald.  With 7:30 to play in the game, McCloskey appeared to be glory-bound when his speed allowed him to create a partial breakaway; however, the Pownal netminder was equal to the task, and the score remained 3-2 in favour of the Flames.  With 6:06 to go, the Red Devils tied the game on a nice play that Smith really had no chance of turning aside.  The remainder of the game saw Pownal desperately trying to pull out the win, throwing everything they had at the Flames cage.  During this five minutes of furious action, which included an untimely North River penalty, Smith held his team in the game with incredible save after incredible save.  The buzzer sounded, and the teams settled for a hard-fought 3-3 tie.  No doubt the Flames would be proud of tying the league's top team in their own barn.

Player of the game for North River was McLaughlin.

The Flames are back on the ice on Wednesday, January 4, when they play host to the Tyne Valley Tornadoes at the APM Centre at 7:20.

 
December 23, 2016
Flames Close out 2016 with Loss to Tyne Valley

The North River Flames closed out the calendar year with a snowy road trip to Tyne Valley to take on the Tornadoes.  The Flames were coming off a big victory the night before over Tignish.

With Dawson Doyle in net, the visitors began the game aggressively with punishing hits along the boards by the likes of Bryce Wheatley, Kyle Mason, and Connor Hennessey.  However, the Tornadoes opened the scoring just a minute-and-a-half in with a bullet to the top corner behind Doyle.  Just moments later, Colby Adams missed a glorious chance in front of the net when his shot sailed just over the crossbar.  With 10:06 to play in the first period, Tyne Valley was assessed a penalty.  While on the powerplay, Wheatley took the puck in the slot, deked the defender, and flipped the puck just under the bar to tie the score at one; Matt Mills and Mason assisted on the goal.  At that point, North River really started to control the play, taking the body and being the more aggressive of the two teams.  The Flames nearly took the lead with 5:15 to go when a rebound hit Hennessey's arm and then hit the goal post; alas, the game remained tied at one.  With 3:29 showing on the clock, the Tornadoes were penalized once again.  During the powerplay, the best scoring opportunity was actually created by Tyne Valley, but a great glove save by Doyle kept the home side from taking the lead.  With under a minute to play, a wild scramble in front of Doyle seemed to last forever, but somehow the puck stayed out.  After one period of play, the score was 1-1.

Just moments into the second period, Mills almost certainly saved a goal when he broke up a cross-ice pass a few feet in front of the North River net.  Doyle continued to impress, making a point-blank save with 10:44 to go in the period; however, on the play, the Flames were handed a penalty.  The Tornadoes came within a whisker of taking the lead when a shot rang off the crossbar; eventually, the penalty was killed off.  With five minutes gone in the middle frame, Tyne Valley did indeed take the lead when a hard shot sailed over Doyle's shoulder.  That was followed less than a minute later with a similar looking shot, giving the Tornadoes a 3-1 lead.  With 4:31 left in the period, Tyne Valley was called for interference, but that didn't slow them down; a hard slapshot from just inside the blueline eluded Doyle, giving the home squad a 4-1 lead.  With that penalty killed off, the Tornadoes took another for good measure, this time a four-minute head contact penalty.  Despite two thundering shots by Mills and Hennessey, the Flames could not score before the end of the period.

Trailing 4-1, the Flames could not find the back of the net while on the powerplay.  Tyne Valley kept trying to accommodate, taking yet another penalty with 7:15 to play in the game, this time for a nasty-looking hit on Mason behind their net.  Once again, North River was unable to generate any good scoring chances while on the man advantage.  With under five minutes to play, Hennessey was hit behind the Tornadoes net, and left the ice in obvious discomfort; he did not return.  With just over three minutes showing on the clock, Tyne Valley sealed the deal with a wrist shot to the bottom corner, giving them a commanding 5-1 lead.  With 1:54 to play, the Tornadoes were penalized again, once again for head contact; however, the Flames were unable to mount any kind of attack, and the game ended with the score Tyne Valley 5, North River 1.

Next game for the Flames will be on Monday, January 2 at 7:40 in Pownal.

 
December 22, 2016
Flames Shock the Aces; Improve to 5-3-2

The North River Flames hosted the Tignish Aces on Wednesday evening at the APM Centre, trying to get things moving in the right direction heading into the Christmas break.  Josh Smith was handed the starting assignment in goal.

The first few minutes of the game were somewhat uneventful, with the two teams seeming to be in a "feeling out" frame of mind.  Much of the early going could be described as fits and starts, with multiple offside and icing calls.  The first notable play of the game was a big hit by Connor Hennessey four minutes in.  For periods of time, the play would be contained in the Flames zone, and then the play would shift to the Tignish end for a minute or two.  With 2:53 to play in the first period, the Flames were assessed a tripping penalty.  However, very impressive penalty-killing work, and calm, making-it-look-easy saves by Smith allowed the Flames to escape the disadvantage unscathed.  With both goalies taking on the role of Scrooge, the first period ended with the two sides deadlocked at zero.

As the second period began and rolled along without any quality scoring chances for either team, the fans sat in anticipation of somebody, somehow breaking through.  Mid-way through the period, North River was penalized for slashing.  Just 30 seconds into the powerplay, the Aces finally broke the ice with a goal off a rebound.  Less than a minute later, however, Tignish returned the favour by taking a holding penalty; however, the Aces showed great defensive fortitude in not allowing much in the way of good scoring chances for the Flames.  With under two minutes to play in the middle frame, North River was penalized again, and again it was a slashing call.  Seconds into the penalty kill, a nice move by Hennessey allowed him to break in alone on the Tignish netminder, but the big forward was unable to convert.  After two periods of play, the Aces held a tenuous 1-0 lead.

With their penalty carrying over into the third period, the Flames did kill off the disadvantage.  With eleven minutes left in the game, Kyle Mason made a nifty move to fake out the Aces defender, but his shot was deflected into the netting above the glass behind the Tignish net.  Moments later, a great pass from Hennessey to Colby Adams in the slot resulted in a backhand shot from Adams that sailed over the net.  While still being offensively challenged, you could see that the Flames were starting to press and to create some good scoring chances.  Meanwhile, at the other end of the ice, Smith stood tall and turned aside any and all further Tignish scoring opportunities, giving his team a chance to win.  Finally, with 3:42 to play in the game, called-up player Landon Hardy stormed down the left side and sniped a wrist shot top shelf to tie the game at one.  Big defenceman Dylan Murphy picked up the assist.  Just 20 seconds later, Hardy moved the puck nicely to Hennessey with a backhand, but the second-year forward missed cashing in by mere inches.  However, Hennessey collected the rebound off the boards and deftly banked the puck in off the goalie's back, giving the Flames a sudden 2-1 lead; Hardy was credited with an assist on the play.  Without warning, this had turned into a heck of a game!  With a minute left to play, the Aces pulled their goalie in favour of an extra attacker.  An ensuing skirmish in front of Smith saw two penalties handed to North River, and one to Tignish.  With the goalie out, this meant a 6 skater on 4 advantage for the Aces.  However, the Flames held strong and sealed the victory when Hennessey scored an empty-netter with just 32 seconds left on the clock.  Assisting on the goal were Malcolm MacDonald and Mason.  The final buzzer sounded, and the Flames skated away with a well-deserved 3-1 victory.

Players of the game for North River were Smith and Hardy.

Next up for the Flames is a trip to Tyne Valley on Thursday evening; game time is 6:10.

 
December 14, 2016
A Few Nights Before Christmas

'Twas just days before Christmas, and all 'round the town, there was joy in the air, there was no need to frown

For the Flames they would take on, their foes from the east, the Pownal Red Devils, would be tough at the least

 

The fans they were nestled, all snug in their seats, the parents drank coffee, the kids ate their treats

And Coach Chris and staff, with their thoughts on the game, knew the pride of the players, the force of a Flame

 

The Flames took the ice, these boys that are mates, they were dressed all in white, from their shoulders to skates

With Doyle in net, they were ready to go, but things began rocky, they started out slow

 

Just one minute in, the Devils did score, then they pressed for another, they sure wanted more

But Doyle pressed back, he had lots of hop, kept the difference to one, with a wonderful stop

 

The Flames went shorthanded, a minor infraction, but Connor went top shelf, and the Flames had some traction

Pownal rebounded, with a shot and a goal, the Devils were cruel, for momentum they stole

 

Just one minute later, the guests scored again, but the Flames would respond, not an "if" but a "when"

A backhand by Ryan, went wide of the net, but Connor was nifty, a goal he did get

 

When out on the ice, there arose such a clatter, the ref blew her whistle, the players did scatter

'Twas a game of hard hitting, of tempers and pride, no player would back down, for the sake of their side

 

Near the end of the first, McCloskey did stumble, after being cross-checked, took a bad-looking tumble

But he rose to his feet, and went straight to the gate, but was back on the ice, before the night got too late

 

Two quick goals by Pownal, and they were up five to two, North River was downcast, they seemed rather blue

But McCloskey fed Taylor, with a nifty assist, no doubt these two forwards, would be on the "nice" list

 

With time winding down, in the game's second frame, the Devils they pressured, 'tis the name of the game

They scored a sixth marker, to again lead by three, 'twas caused by bad bounces, that was easy to see

 

In the third the Flames fought back, they skated and passed, but despite their best efforts, the die had been cast

Their foes got some good breaks, and our side bad luck, sometimes fate smiles on you, sometimes no puck luck

 

The scoring was closed out, by nifty young Cole, Landon Hardy and Aaron, helped out on the goal

Six-four was the final, a good game no doubt, could have gone either way, 'twas hardly a rout

 

And Taylor received, the MVP coat, but this kid he was humble, no brag and no gloat

The players appeared, quite quickly by chance, couldn't wait to head out, to the Junior High dance

 

As the fans they departed, the rink to head home, Coach Chris and the staff, to the lobby did roam

But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight, "I'm proud of you boys, you put up a good fight"

 
December 12, 2016
Flames Find Scoring Touch; Steamroll over Summerside

The North River Flames took the show on the road to Summerside, hoping to break out of a scoring slump that has been plaguing the squad for the last several games.  Suffice it to say that they were able to dump the slump, to the tune of a ten-spot against the host Caps.

In the beautiful surroundings of Credit Union Place, the Flames took the ice with Josh Smith starting in goal. Just a minute and change in, North River was handed a tripping penalty.  Smart penalty killing play was evident right away, with the Flames defenders making plays that would make Don Cherry proud; off the glass and out of the zone, quickly.  That soon led to the opening goal of the game, when Aaron McCloskey netted a shorthanded goal with 9:44 to play; Kyle Mason picked up an assist.  The Caps then took a penalty of their own, and North River was quick to make them pay, when Bryce Wheatley juked and jived his way towards the net and fired one home; Jack Nordquist got the helper.  But there was more to come.  With 8:18 to play in the first period, Connor Hennessey gave the visitors a 3-0 lead when he banged one into the back of the cage after picking up a rebound off the boards; Matt Mills assisted on the marker.  Less than a minute later, Cole Taylor made a beautiful top corner shot that eluded the Summerside netminder, giving the Flames a quick 4-0 lead over the reeling Caps; the goal went unassisted.  But the home squad seemed to find their sea legs about a minute later, when they pounced on a rebound in front of Smith and closed the gap to three.  However, the Flames bounced right back when, with 5:14 to go in the period, Shaun Henshall tickled the twine with a great wrist shot; McCloskey and Nordquist were credited with assists on the play.  After a wild and wooly 12 minutes of play, North River led by a score of 5-1.

Soon after puck drop to open the second period, the beat went on as Hennessey buried a slapshot from just inside the blueline to give the Flames a 6-1 lead; Ryan McLaughlin picked up the assist.  With eleven minutes to play in the period, Henshall took a shot that actually knocked the stick out of the goalie's hands, but sailed wide of the net.  With 8:09 showing on the clock, Colby Adams scored a beauty as he broke in alone on goal, going top shelf with a backhand; Hennessey picked up an assist, and the Flames held a commanding 7-1 lead.  Throughout the course of the game, Smith didn't see a lot of rubber, but when he did, he was sharp. There was no better display of this than when he made a desperation, lying-flat-out-on-the-ice save with 7:08 to play in the second frame.  With 4:15 to go, Mills scored with a rocket of a slapshot from the point; the goal was assisted by McCloskey and Will Mix.  With just under three minutes to play, McLaughlin appeared to score the Flames ninth goal, when he stuffed the puck home on a wraparound; however, the referee waved off the goal, determining that the puck was covered.  But no need to worry: just moments later, Hennessey scored on a rebound, with the assist going to Adams.  After two periods of play, the Flames held a lopsided 9-1 lead.

In the third period, the Flames killed off a penalty, thanks in part to a great right pad save by Smith.  With 5:40 to play, the Caps did put one past Smith when the Flames couldn't find the puck in their feet.  Less than a minute later, Taylor scored on a slapshot, restoring the Flames eight goal advantage; McCloskey got the helper.  That closed out the scoring, with North River skating away with a 10-2 drubbing.  Player of the game was McCloskey.

The Flames next game is on Wednesday, December 14 at 7:20 at the APM Centre, when they'll take on Pownal.

 
December 11, 2016
Schedule - Week of Dec 12, 2016

 

Hi Everyone, we have a bit of a quieter week ahead:
Mon Dec 12 @6:00 - 7:00 am - Practice at APM
Wed Dec 14 @7:20 - 8:20 PM - Home game v. Pownal at APM
And for the grown ups:  remember our East Coast Art Party on Sun Dec 18 from 630 - 930 PM at Afton Hall. There are still a number of tickets remaining.  Any help to sell the remaining tickets is greatly appreciated.
 
December 3, 2016
Flames Bow Out of Pownal Tournament After Third Loss

The North River Flames played their third game of the Pownal Markan Hardwood Plus Tournament on Saturday afternoon at the Simmons Arena.  If the Flames were to have any hope of making it to the cross-overs, they'd have to win handily over today's opponent, the Cape Breton Islanders.

The Flames went with Dawson Doyle in net, and reverted to their original line combinations put together at the start of the season.  From first puck drop, this proved to be a spirited affair, with lots of speed and plenty of physical play from both teams.  The BMW line, back together after some time in the garage, took the body early and often.  It was clear that the strategy for today's game was to tackle this big team head-on, not backing down despite being at a distinct size disadvantage.  Perhaps this rattled the Cape Bretoners, as they were handed a four minute head contact penalty just over a minute in.  Unfortunately, as has been the case for the last several games, the Flames created good, sustained pressure, but without mounting much in actual shots on goal.  Not surprisingly, then, the penalty was successfully killed off by the Islanders.  The hit fest continued, and eventually North River took a head contact penalty of their own, but of the two minute variety.  Despite plenty of chances to score, Doyle was steadfast at holding the fort, with help from Dylan Murphy doing great work along the boards.  Less than a minute after the Flames were penalized, Cape Breton committed another infraction, creating a little 4-on-4 action.  Despite there being lots of open ice, neither team could break the tie.  The period wound down with dogged forecheck work by talented forward Andrew Beach, keeping the Islanders from mounting much of an attack.

Less than a minute into the middle frame, Cape Breton took another penalty.  While the powerplay was unsuccessful, the Flames did open the scoring with 8:43 to play in the period, when a shot from the point by Kyle Mason found the back of the net; Malcolm MacDonald picked up an assist.  After that goal, the physicality did not diminish.  While the Islanders may have been bigger in stature, the Flames showed bigger heart; witness Cole Taylor taking on players at least twice his size.  With 7:52 to go, a bad bounce in the Flames zone resulted in the Capers tying the game at one.  Then it was time for one of the most exciting plays in hockey: with 1:42 to go in the period, Cape Breton was awarded a penalty shot as one of their forwards was hauled down while on a breakaway.  With everyone in the rink on edge, the Islander player skated in slowly on Doyle, with the Flames goaltender coming out the winner in the showdown.  After two periods of play, the teams were deadlocked at one.

Just thirty seconds into the final period, a failure by the Flames to clear the puck from their end resulted in a five-hole goal for Cape Breton, giving them a 2-1 lead.  With 10:01 left in the game, the Islanders were handed another penalty, but it was the offending team that capitalized, scoring a shorthanded goal and taking a 3-1 lead.  Cape Breton was called for another infraction with 8:30 to play, creating a 5-on-3 advantage for North River.  However, a most untimely head contact penalty call against the Flames, for four minutes, no less, dashed hopes of a quick comeback.  With 6:37 showing on the clock, the Islanders scored again on a rebound, opening up a three goal lead.  The Islanders scored another with a man advantage, taking a 5-1 lead.  With just seconds left on the clock, a Cape Breton player, who apparently attended the Simon Cowell School of Human Relations, gave MacDonald a rather nasty head shot.  When the dust settled, the Flames came up short by a score of 5-1.  Player of the game for the Flames was Connor Hennessey.

And so that spelled the end of the tournament for North River.  Three games.  Two goals.  That's not gonna get 'er done.  While scoring continues to be a real issue, the Flames did get better as the tournament wore on, which is certainly reason for hope.

The Flames next game is on Saturday, December 10 at 12:30 in Tignish.

 
December 3, 2016
Flames Drop Second Game of Pownal Tournament

The North River Flames played their second game of the Pownal Markan Hardwood Plus Tournament on Friday evening, in front of a boisterous crowd in Pownal, against very familiar foes the Sherwood Falcons.  Josh Smith got the starting assignment in goal.

In an attempt to shake things up, the Flames sported new line combinations for this contest.  From the onset, it appeared that the Flames really came to play this evening.  Will Mix set the tone early with a hard check in the corner.  Just two minutes into the game, a hard shot by Dylan Murphy seemed to handcuff the Falcons goalie who nearly allowed it to slip into the cage.  The referee seemed to put his whistle away for much of the first period, creating pretty good, entertaining flow.  A dangerous-looking scoring chance for Sherwood was broken up by good backchecking by Ryan McLaughlin, lifting the Sherwood player's stick at the last moment. With a little over two minutes to play in the opening frame, Smith made a tremendous save to keep the game tied at zero.  That was followed by a near wraparound goal for Shaun Henshall, who has held the hot hand for North River as of late.  As the buzzer sounded to end the first period, the game was tied at goose eggs.

Smith continued to dazzle early in the second period with a nifty glove save from close range.  While skating with the Falcons and working just as hard, shots on goal for the Flames were few and far between, meaning that Smith was the busier of the two goalies.  With 8:11 to play, Sherwood created a 2-on-1 opportunity, and capitalized when they fired home a rebound.  The question on everyone's mind was then: how will the Flames respond?  Suffice it to say they responded quite well, by continuing to press and trying to create more scoring chances.  A promising-looking opportunity for North River was thwarted by a penalty with 5:05 to play in the period.  The Falcons made the Flames pay, with a powerplay goal that Smith had little chance of stopping. Despite this set back, the Flames fought back, when Bryce Wheatley skated in on a partial breakaway, only to be turned aside by the Sherwood netminder.  After two periods of play, the Falcons held a 2-0 lead.

Thoughts of getting back into the game were quickly put on hold, when the Flames were assessed a penalty for boarding less than a minute in.  While on the penalty kill, Matt Mills came within a whisker of scoring a fluke goal, when his alley-oop shot from just inside the red line fooled the Sherwood goalie and bounced off the crossbar.  The Flames were successful in killing off the penalty, and continued to press to get on the scoreboard.  Unfortunately, a four minute head contact penalty for North River, with just over eight minutes to play, all but sealed their fate.  However, full credit to the penalty killers for doing their job successfully.  While that was encouraging, what was discouraging was the fact that those four minutes could have been used to try to close the gap on the scoreboard.  With 1:40 to go in the game, the Falcons were handed a penalty; however, after the call was made, the Flames also were penalized, negating a powerplay before it even got going.  It was another case of the Flames shooting themselves in the foot, and when all was said and done, North River hobbled off to a 2-0 defeat.

Smith came away sporting the jacket for being named player of the game.  The Flames netminder did all he could to keep his team in the game.

Most in attendance would agree that this evening's effort was much better than this afternoon's against Tignish.  The Flames just have to keep skating and working hard, and the goals and wins will come.

North River plays their third game of the tournament on Saturday afternoon at 3:40 at Simmons, against Cape Breton.

 
December 3, 2016
Flames Open Pownal Tournament with 4-1 Loss

The Flames opened the Pownal Markan Hardwood Plus Tournament on Friday afternoon in the spacious Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown, when they took on the Tignish Aces.  Dawson Doyle tended goal, and the starting lineup included Aaron McCloskey, Connor Hennessey, and Colby Adams at forward, with Jack Nordquist and Matthew Mills on defence.

The first big play of the game was a hard hit along the boards by Flames defenceman Malcolm MacDonald two-and-a-half minutes in.  Seconds later, North River got on the board when a beautiful wrist shot by Shaun Henshall found the top corner.  The goal was assisted by McCloskey.  The North River faithful could only hope that this was a sign that the Flames were finally going to break out of their offensive funk.  The middle section of the opening period belonged to the Flames, with plenty of pressure in the Aces zone.  At times, it appeared North River was on a full-time powerplay, and yet they couldn't produce a whole lot in the way of actual quality shots on goal.  With 3:27 to go, Doyle faced his first real test when he stopped a hard-charging Tignish forward on a breakaway.  However, just seconds later, an unfortunate turnover in the Flames end resulted in a goal for Tignish, tying the game at one.  Just a minute later, an eerily similar play allowed the Aces to cash in again with a shot along the ice that found the bottom corner behind Doyle, giving Tignish a 2-1 lead.  Just before the end of the period, the Flames appeared to tie the game when Ryan McLaughlin stuffed the puck home while parked just outside the crease.  However, the goal was waved off by the referee, who had lost site of the puck and claimed it was covered by the netminder.  After one period of play, which was penalty-free, the Aces led by a score of 2-1.

The second period opened with a 2-on-1 chance for the Flames, involving Hennessey and Adams, that was oh-so-close to converting.  That was followed by Doyle being called upon to make three great saves, keeping the defecit to one.  But that defecit soon grew to two, when a Flames turnover in the neutral zone resulted in a blink-of-an-eye goal for the Aces.  The rest of the second period saw North River under siege, but plays like hits by Cole Taylor and MacDonald, as well as Nordquist swatting away a loose puck in the crease, allowed the Flames to escape to the third period down by two, and still in the game.

A minute into the third period, the first penalty of the game was called, and it was Tignish that was the offending team.  The Flames, however, weren't able to mount anything resembling an attack, and before you knew it, the powerplay was over.  With 7:30 to play, Doyle comitted larceny with a beautiful trapper save. With under six minutes to play, the Flames picked an unfortunate time to practice their Keystone Kops routine at their blueline; nobody could find the puck in their skates, a Tignish player snagged it, and before you knew it, the score stood at 4-1 for the Aces.  And that's how the game ended, with the Flames on the wrong end of a 4-1 score.  Player of the game for North River was Taylor.

This was a tough game for the North River fans, as at times, especially early on, the Flames seemed to control the play quite well, but then they seemed to become turnover-happy and began losing the races to, and battles for, the puck.

The Flames will need to re-group quickly, as they face familiar foes the Sherwood Falcons on Friday evening in Pownal.

 
November 30, 2016
Flames, Norsemen Skate to 1-1 Tie

The Flames were back on the ice on Wednesday, when they played host to the Montague Norsemen.  The home side was looking to exact a little revenge, as the last time these two teams met, it was the Norsemen who skated away with a 4-3 victory.

Josh Smith got the nod to start in goal.  Brayden Monahan was brought in to fill in for Aaron McCloskey, who wasn't available for this game.  Immediately after the opening faceoff, even before the first sip of coffee was taken in the stands, the Montague centreman broke in alone on goal, but Smith was alert and turned the shot aside.  Two minutes later, Flames forward Shaun Henshall fired a blistering wrist shot that rang off the goalie's mask.  With both sides now fully awake, the teams settled in for what proved to be a battle of defensive play. The Flames did have a good opportunity to score mid-way through the opening period, when Colby Adams sped in on a partial breakaway; Adams was hauled down, yet no penalty was called on the play.  The first year forward went awkwardly into the boards, and had to be helped to the bench.  Over the next few minutes of play, both teams seemed to be trying to find their sea legs, with crisp passes being as rare as a civil discussion in the House of Commons.  With 6:44 to go in the period, the Norsemen had a near-miss when a shot got lost in Smith's equipment; thankfully, the puck re-appeared and no damage was done.  The ice was broken with just under five minutes to play, when Kyle Mason scored a nice wrap around goal after a feed from Cole Taylor.  As the clock wound down, big forward Connor Hennessey took a hard hit along the boards, but bounced right back up.  The play did create a quality chance for Montague, but Smith was sharp and made a key save.  After one period of play, North River led 1-0.

Early on in the second period, Andrew Dooks showed great awareness when he found Hennessey hanging high and fired a nice pass his way.  Hennessey stormed the net, but was denied by the Norsemen goalie.  With 5:43 to play in the middle stanza, Andrew Beach showed no fear in going to the dirty part of the ice, and banged away no less than three times at the puck lying in front of the crease.  On the play, Montague was assessed a penalty.  Unfortunately, and as has been the case for much of this young season, the Flames could not convert on the ensuing powerplay.  With just over a minute to go, Smith made perhaps his best save of the evening on a point-blank chance that he calmly controlled and smothered.  With 35 seconds showing on the clock, the Flames were penalized for roughing, but the Norsemen could not cash in before the buzzer sounded.

Despite several good chances to tie the game on the powerplay, North River successfully kept the Norsemen at bay and killed off the penalty.  However, with 9:43 to go, a strange play, of which this game had no shortage, resulted in the puck sailing down towards the Flames net, with Smith charging out to intercept it.  With both a Montague forward and a Flames defenceman in hot pursuit, all three players, plus the puck, met at the same time half-way between the net and the blueline.  Somehow, the puck squirted into the net and the game was tied at one.  With tension in the rink increasing with each scoring chance, Smith made a fantastic toe save to keep the game deadlocked.  With under four minutes to play, Montague was penalized for interference.  A shot from Bryce Wheatley, deflected by Ryan McLaughlin, missed the far post by a hair.  In the course of the last few minutes of the period, even after the penalty had expired, the play was controlled by the Flames; however, they simply were not able to put another one past the Montague goalie.  The teams had to settle for a 1-1 tie, the second consecutive such score for North River.  The coaching staff opted not to award a player of the game for this contest.

No doubt the Flames will need to find a way to ignite their offence, as goal scoring continues to be problematic.  Scoring one or two goals per game is admittedly not much support for the Flames netminders. However, with the talent on this squad, it's only a matter of time before they find their groove and the flood gates open up.

The Flames are on the ice next on Friday for the Pownal Markan Hardwood Plus Tournament; they'll play Tignish at 1:15 at the Eastlink Centre, and Sherwood at 6:50 in Pownal.

 
November 27, 2016
Squandered Chances Hurt Flames; Tie Gulf Storm 1-1

The Flames took their 3-2 record on the road on Saturday, facing Gulf Storm in Kensington.  Dawson Doyle was in net for the visitors.  Luc Dunn was called up to fill in for the unavailable Josh Smith, and played backup.  The Flames also called up defenseman Brayden Monahan, to replace Will Mix who was also not available for this contest.

Just a minute and a half into the game, speedy forward Cole Taylor rang a shot off the post.  This would be a sign of things to come for the Flames; good chances going unrewarded.  Other than Taylor's near-miss, the first half of the period was somewhat uneventful, as the teams seemed to be feeling each other out. Suddenly, with just under six minutes to go, big blueliner Matt Mills made a beautiful end-to-end rush and fired home a wrist shot to give the Flames the lead; Bryce Wheatley assisted on the goal.  That was followed up by a strong shift by the line of Aaron McCloskey, Connor Hennessey, and Colby Adams, with Andrew Dooks and Malcolm MacDonald on defence, who created two quality scoring chances.  However, as has been the case many times so far this season, the Flames were assessed a momentum-killing penalty just one minute after opening the scoring.  Gulf Storm was quick to capitalize, knotting the scoring at one with 3:50 to play, with a hard shot over Doyle's shoulder.  In the waning seconds of the first period, North River was called for slashing, but the period ended with the teams tied at one.

While withstanding tremendous pressure by the host team, the Flames were handed another slashing penalty, putting them down five skaters to three.  However, incredibly determined work by the penalty killers paid off, and the Flames were soon back on even terms with Gulf Storm.  Both sides started to pick up the physical play, with Flames forward Shaun Henshall throwing some punishing hits along the boards.  With 7:18 to go in the period, Gulf Storm took a penalty for tripping.  While on the powerplay, North River came within a whisker of taking the lead when a pass from Ryan McLaughlin to Wheatley was turned aside at the last moment.  With less than six minutes to play, the Flames were penalized for head contact, with the referee determining that it was worthy of four minutes in the box.  Solid penalty killing work by the likes of Monahan kept the home side's chances to a minimum.  With four minutes to go, Gulf Storm took a two minute head contact penalty of their own.  Before the end of the period, McLaughlin had no less than three glorious chances to break the deadlock, but was unable to put one behind the goaltender.  With two periods in the books, the scored remained 1-1.

For the vast majority of the third period, and indeed for most of the game, it appeared the ice was tilted in the Flames favour; their achilles heel was an inability to finish.  Early domination in the final frame saw several chances for North River come up empty.  With 4:14 to play in the game, the Flames were handed an early Christmas gift when Gulf Storm took an oh-so-untimely four minute head contact penalty.  If the Flames ever had a chance to put this game away, this was it.  However, unfortunatley and somewhat predictably, that chance was squandered when North River was penalized seconds later for interference.  Within a minute of the penalty call, a Gulf Storm forward made a dangerous-looking rush into the Flames zone, but Taylor, who never seems to tire, broke up the play with a great display of backchecking.  Despite more opportunities for North River to score in the dying seconds, the buzzer sounded, and the teams had to settle for a 1-1 tie.

Players of the game for the Flames were Dooks and MacDonald, both having very impressive games on the blueline.

North River's next game will be on Wednesday, November 30 at 7:20 PM at the APM Centre, when they'll take on the Montague Norsemen.

 
November 24, 2016
Flames Lose on Road to Norsemen

The North River Flames headed east on Wednesday evening, to face the Montague Norsemen at the Eastern Kings Sportsplex in Souris.  Entering the game, the Flames record stood at 3-1, with the Norsemen not far behind at 2-1.

In net for North River was Dawson Doyle, who was coming off a stellar performance in game 2 of the Early Bird Tournament.  Early on in the first period, the Norsemen were penalized for four minutes for head contact.  The fivesome of Kyle Mason, Bryce Wheatley, Ryan McLaughlin, Jack Nordquist, and Matt Mills moved the puck well during the power play, but failed to find the back of the net.  With 8:15 to go in the period, while still on the power play, a hard-charging Aaron McCloskey was turned aside when the Norsemen goalie made a great save.  Montague was successful in killing off the penalty, and the Flames had to feel frustrated after at least a few quality scoring chances came up empty.  With 5:00 to play, Connor Hennessey’s wrist shot seemed destined for glory, but the Montague netminder got his shoulder on the shot at the last second.  But then, half a minute later, Kyle Mason tickled the twine with a top corner shot; the goal was assisted by Bryce Wheatley.  While the Flames seemed to have the better of the play for the next few minutes, they were, unfortunately, assessed a four minute head contact penalty with 13 seconds showing on the clock.  It didn’t take long for Montague to capitalize; a deflected shot eluded Doyle, crossing the line with just seven seconds to play in the period.  That brought the double minor down to two minutes, and the period ended with the teams deadlocked at one.

Starting the second period on the penalty kill, the line of Andrew Beach, Cole Taylor, Mills, and Nordquist did great work shorthanded.  Unfortunately, the Flames found themselves down five skaters to three, for 22 seconds, when they were handed another penalty with 10:29 to go in the middle frame.  With just under ten minutes to play, Hennessey appeared to give the Flames the lead on a shorthanded effort; while originally signalled a goal by the referee, the play was waved off after a short conference between the officials.  Still on the penalty kill, Andrew Dooks threw a punishing check along the boards, making the opposition think twice about taking time to set up any kind of play.  After successfully killing off the penalties, the Flames soon found themselves down 2-1 after a shot from the point fooled Doyle and found the top of the net.  But full credit to North River, as they bounced right back on a goal from Wheatley, who stuffed home a rebound after a nice rush by Mason.  Half-way through the game, the teams were tied at two.  With five minutes to go, Doyle made a tremendous save to maintain the tie.  Then Hennessey’s hard wrist shot was snagged on a great glove save by the Norsemen goalie.  With just seconds to go in the period, a wild scramble took place in front of the Montague cage, but nothing came of it goal-wise.  Someone should call the Mounties, because once again, Hennessey was robbed on a wonderful scoring opportunity.

Two minutes into the final period, a defensive breakdown on the part of North River allowed the Norsemen to find the back of the net and take a 3-2 lead.  Once again, the Flames showed resiliency, when four minutes later, Mills spun around in the opposition’s zone and fired a slapshot just inside the near post, tying the game at three.  Mason picked up an assist.  The seesaw match continued, when Montague regained the lead just seconds later on a rebound goal of their own.  With 4:25 to play, McLaughlin appeared to have the tying goal on his stick, but two incredible saves by the Norsemen netminder kept the home side in the lead.  That was followed by a tripping penalty being handed to Montague.  On the powerplay, Malcolm MacDonald made a promising rush into the Norsemen zone, but again, the goaltender stood tall.  Hopes were raised for North River when the host team was penalized again with 2:29 to play, creating a 5-on-3 advantage.  North River had no luck on the powerplay, and with just under a minute to go, Doyle was pulled in favour of an extra attacker.  Despite pressure in the Norsemen end, and a great play by Nordquist to knock the puck down with his glove to keep the play in the offensive zone, the Flames weren’t able to put the biscuit in the basket, and came up on the short end of a 4-3 score.

Player of the game for the Flames was Mills, who broke his personal scoring drought with a nice marker in the third period.

Next up for the Flames is another road game, when they’ll take on Gulf Storm on Saturday, November 26 at 2:30 PM in Kensington.

 
November 19, 2016
Flames Lose Heartbreaker to Glace Bay

Disappointing?  Sure.  Frustrating?  Perhaps.  Reason for optimism?  You bet. On Saturday afternoon at Cody Banks Arena, the Flames played their third game of the Early Bird Tournament.  They were pitted against the Glace Bay Miners, who could have been mistaken for the Green Bay Packers given their size.  Although the outcome may have been heartbreaking, no doubt this was the Flames best effort of the tournament.

Goaltender Josh Smith was tested early and often, turning aside three great scoring opportunities within the first minute of play.  With 10:09 to go in the first period, the Miners were assessed a two-minute penalty for head contact.  On the powerplay, Aaron McCloskey barely missed converting on a deflection into the gaping cage.  Unfortunatley, that proved to be the only good chance North River had on the man advantage.  Half-way through the period, Shaun Henshall intercepted a pass in the Glace Bay zone, stormed in on goal, and fired home a wrist shot that went through the five-hole; the goal went unassisted.  That was immediately followed by a partial breakaway for Andrew Beach that was denied by the Miners goalie.  With 3:52 showing on the clock, a hard snapshot by a Glace Bay forward eluded Smith, tying the game at one.  Then a dangerous looking rush by the Miners was thwarted by Malcolm MacDonald, who made the wise decision to play the man, quickly ending the threat.  As the first period wound down, the Flames began to show that they really came to play, and what they're capable of when they bring their level of intensity up.  Tremendous pressure by North River nearly paid off, when a beautiful feed from McCloskey to Connor Hennessey just failed to find the back of the net.  Jack Nordquist did great work along the blueline, keeping the puck in the Glace Bay zone, creating more scoring chances.  After one period of play, the teams were deadlocked at one.

Early on in the second period, Andrew Dooks threw a thunderous hit along the boards.  With 10:00 to play in the period, the Flames faithful held their collective breath as McCloskey was down on the ice for a good minute or two; thankfully, he made his way to the bench and did return to action.  Meanwhile, Smith continued to do what Smith does best; bail out his team when turnovers occur.  With 6:15 to play, a scramble in front of the Glace Bay net resulted in Andrew Beach firing home the go-ahead goal; the goal went unassisted.  The Miners fought back, but great backchecking by Matt Mills prevented a breakaway for the visitors from Nova Scotia.  Then things got...interesting.  With 4:16 to play in the period, a disputed goal for the Miners was waved off by the referee, as he blew the whistle just prior to the puck crossing the line.  This caused a major ruckus to erupt INSIDE the Flames net; when the dust settled, the Flames found themselves on the wrong end of a 7:00 penalty.  The period ended with the Flames clinging to a 2-1 lead, but still with 2:44 of penalty time to kill off.

A minute and a half into the third period, Glace Bay was handed a penalty, effectively killing off the Flames penalty; full credit to the local boys for tremendous work on a lengthy penalty kill.  While on the man advantage, Bryce Wheatley dipsy-doodled his way into the Glace Bay zone, coming within a whisker of a highlight reel goal.  Seconds later, the Flames scored what appeared to be a decisive goal, when Colby Adams batted home a rebound; the assists went to Hennessey and McCloskey.  Unfortunately, that was followed seconds later by a one-timer goal for the Miners, cutting the lead to 3-2.  The Flames then seemed to find another gear, when the line of Wheatley, Kyle Mason, and Ryan McLaughlin threw everything they had at the opponents.  Just then, an unfortunate bounce resulted in a breakaway for Glace Bay, and a top-shelf goal knotted the game at three.  With 3:37 to go, an either well coordinated or lucky Miner batted the puck out of mid-air, giving the visitors a 4-3 lead.  The shocked crowd then witnessed a fifth goal by Glace Bay, after a turnover behind the Flames cage.  With 2:00 to play, the teams were assessed off-setting minor penalties. However, that was the end of the scoring, and the game ended with a score of Glace Bay 5, North River 3.

Player of the game for the Flames was Mason, and most sportsmanlike player went to MacDonald.

While disappointing, all in all this was a tremendous effort by the Flames, by far their best game of the tournament.  Continued play like what took place today will no doubt serve this team well.

Next up for the Flames is a game on the road in Souris against Eastern Kings, on Wednesday evening at 6:40.

 
November 18, 2016
Flames Lose Second Game of Early Bird Tournament

The North River Flames hit the road for game 2 of the Early Bird Tournament, taking the so-called Plan B highway to Crapaud.  That seemed fitting, as no doubt the team had to come up with an alternate plan after last night's disappointing showing against Sherwood.

In the deep freeze otherwise known as the South Shore Actiplex, Dawson Doyle was in the crease to face the Kent Centre Bears.  Right from the first puck drop, it was obvious that the Flames would have more intensity and drive than they did last night.  Both teams were flying early, with Doyle being called upon to turn aside a hard-charging Bear less than two minutes in.  Seconds later, Andrew Beach showed an incredible burst of speed and broke in alone, only to have his shot ring off the post.  The fast pace continued, with both teams skating hard and battling for every loose puck.  With 5:15 to go in the period, Colby Adams showed great determination, beating a much bigger defenseman on the outside and nearly opening the scoring.  That was followed by a breakaway for the Bears, that was calmly turned aside by Doyle.  The first powerplay of the game went to North River, but it was the New Brunswickers who had the best chance to score on a 2-on-1; once again, Doyle stood his ground and kept the game tied at zero.  As the clock wound down, Kent Centre finally broke through with a nice one-timer goal from the slot.  After one period of play, the Flames trailed 1-0.

Early on in the second period, the Flames were assessed a two-minute minor, but continued stellar play by Doyle kept the defecit to one goal.  With 7:34 to go, North River took a four-minute penalty; the Bears swarmed the net, but again, the Flames netminder did his best Carey Price impression and turned aside every threat.  Just when it looked as though North River was starting to gain control with some effective body work, a seeing-eye shot from the point found the far corner behind Doyle, giving Kent Centre a 2-0 lead.  The buzzer sounded to end the second period, with the Bears up 2-0.

Just nine seconds into the final frame, the Flames saw one of their players handed a penalty, once again delaying any type of run at a comeback.  Good early penalty-killing work by the foursome of Adams, Aaron McCloskey, Matt Mills, and Will Mix was instrumental in killing off the penalty.  However, with 7:30 to play in the game, a beautiful move by a Bears forward allowed him to break in alone on Doyle, and deke out the Flames netminder to give Kent Centre a comfortable 3-0 lead.  Just 25 seconds later, the Bears cemented their lead after splitting the Flames defence and firing home a fourth goal.  The remainder of the game was rather uneventful, other than more great saves by Doyle.  The game ended with Kent Centre skating away with a 4-0 victory.  Player of the game for the Flames was Doyle, a decision with which nobody could argue. Most sportsmanlike player went to Bryce Wheatley.

No doubt, today's effort was much better than last night's.  What has become troubling in the last couple of games is North River's lack of quality scoring chances; this may be attributable, at least in part, to momentum-killing penalties.  The good news is that the season is still in its infancy, and there is time to work out the kinks and develop some chemistry between the lines.

The Flames are back on the ice tomorrow afternoon at 1:00, when they'll face Glace Bay at Cody Banks Arena.

 
November 17, 2016
Flames Drop Opener of Early Bird Tournament

Well THAT was a downer.  The Flames had high hopes entering their opening game of the Early Bird Tournament, as they faced a team they manhandled last night, the host Sherwood Falcons.  What a difference 24 hours can make.

The Flames took the ice looking sharp in their away reds, with Josh Smith handed the assignment to start in goal.  The crowd was raucous and the benches seemed fired up; unfortunately, that was pretty much as intense as it got for the Flames this evening.  Less than two minutes into the game, the Falcons pounced on a rebound after a wild scramble in front of Smith, burying a shot just under the crossbar.  Sherwood opening with an early goal was a repeat of what happened last night at the APM Centre, and the Flames could only hope that history would repeat itself.  The line of Bryce Wheatley, Shaun Henshall, and Andrew Beach pushed back with good pressure, which resulted in two great scoring chances for Henshall.  With 4:10 to go in the opening frame, Cole Taylor's speed caused Sherwood to take a hooking penalty.  However, the Flames powerplay was ineffective and created little in the way of quality chances.  A turnover by North River resulted in the Falcons scoring again with just 31.2 seconds showing on the clock.  After one period of play, the Flames found themselves on the wrong end of a 2-0 score.

Following the crowd swaying to the sweet sounds of Stompin' Tom Connors, the puck dropped to open the second period.  From the faceoff, Sherwood seemed to take complete control, with North River providing little support to Smith.  Suddenly, however, the Falcons found themselves down two men, with back-to-back penalties, the first one being of the four-minutes-for-head-contact variety, and the second for hooking.  During the ensuing 5-on-3 advantage, Jack Nordquist took a shot from the point, which was deflected in by Connor Hennessey, cutting the Sherwood lead in half.  Any lift that provided to the Flames was short-lived, however, as a defensive pinch resulted in a two-on-one for the opponents that was nearly broken up by Malcolm MacDonald; the Falcons forward made no mistake, and quickly restored the two-goal advantage. Down 3-1, Smith did his level best to keep his team in it.  With 1:11 to play, the Falcons were assessed a charging penalty.  Again, the Flames powerplay did not really fire on all cylinders, and squandered another opportunity to close the gap before the period ended.  After two periods of play, Sherwood lead by a score of 3-1.

Starting the third period still on the man advantage, the general sentiment was that the Flames needed to capitalize before the penalty expired, and, well, they didn't.  The Flames then took an untimely tripping penalty with 9:37 left on the clock.  Aaron McCloskey had a glorious shorthanded chance to score, but the Sherwood goaltender made a nice shoulder save.  That was followed by a breakaway for Hennessey that was also turned aside.  Half-way through the period, the Flames picked up the pace, to a certain extent, but it was a case of too little, too late.  With 1:45 to play, the Falcons sealed the deal as Smith was left hung out to dry on a fourth goal.  As the buzzer sounded, the scoreboard read Sherwood 4, North River 1.  Player of the game for the Flames was Smith, and most sportsmanlike player went to Nordquist.

The post-mortem in the lobby after the game included comments like "lack of intensity," "passes not connecting," and "waiting for the play to happen."  One thing's for certain: the Flames will have to figure it out quickly, as they take on Kent Centre in Crapaud tomorrow morning at 10:20.

 
November 16, 2016
Flames Stifle Falcons; Improve to 3-1

The North River Flames put their 2-1 record on the line against the Sherwood Falcons on Wednesday evening in the friendly confines of the APM Centre.  Dawson Doyle got the assignment to start in goal for the home side.

In an effort to create some offence, coach Chris Arsenault and his staff put together some new line combinations, and it seemed to pay off.  However, it was the Falcons who struck first, banging in a rebound just 50 seconds into the contest.  While such an early set back could have shaken a team's confidence, the Flames fought right back.  Andrew Beach showed great speed and pursuit, giving the opponents little time or space to make plays, and then promptly made a great play of his own, bursting in alone on the Sherwood goal, only to be turned aside by the netminder.  Moments later, Connor Hennessey came within a whisker of tying the affair, when he rumbled in on net and rang a shot off the crossbar.  As has been the custom between these two teams, physical play started to creep in late in the first period.  After taking a hard body check, a Sherwood player spent a few minutes on the ice, but did recover and skated off under his own power.  Then, out of nowhere, with 2:18 on the clock, Shaun Henshall skated into the Sherwood zone, and let go an incredible snap shot from just inside the blueline.  The rocket of a shot found the top corner, behind a shocked Falcons goalie.  Word of advice to Flames opponents: don't let Henshall shoot; he's deadly.  The goal went unassisted.  Less than a minute later, Hennessey gave the Flames a lead they would never relinquish, when he banged home a rebound; Colby Adams picked up a well-earned assist on the play.

The teams took to the ice for the second period with North River leading 2-1.  Early on in the period, Doyle made a nice point-blank save by staying square to the target.  And then the penalties started.  With 9:25 to go, the Flames took a cross-checking penalty, but successfully killed it off.  Shortly after that, good puck 
pursuit by the line of Cole Taylor, Kyle Mason, and Ryan McLaughlin resulted in Taylor scoring on a nice low shot to the corner; Mason picked up the assist.  The Falcons could not capitalize on another Flames penalty, and indeed it was the offending team scoring, when Mason scored a beautiful goal with 3:12 to play in the period; the goal went unassisted.  Yet another North River penalty created a 5-on-3 situation, but determined work by Andrew Dooks, Malcolm MacDonald, and Bryce Wheatley killed off the first penalty.  Forgive the writer for being repetitive, but the Flames were assessed another penalty with 40 seconds to go, creating another 5-on-3 advantage for Sherwood.  Doyle stood tall, and the period ended with the Flames up 4-1.

Just 20 seconds into the third period, Hennessey scored a shorthanded goal for the Flames, which proved to be the final goal of the night.  Adams picked up an assist on the play after a great show of speed.  The rest of the third period can be summed up this way: the Flames penalty box saw more traffic than Tim Hortons after church.  Play on the backend by Jack Nordquist prevented the Falcons from mounting much of an attack.  With just a minute to go, a melee ensued behind the Sherwood cage, with both sides being penalized on the play.  When all was said and done, the Flames skated away with a convincing 5-1 victory.  Player of the game was Adams, who was a force to be reckoned with all night.

These two teams won't have to wait long to renew hostilities, as they'll face each other tomorrow in the Early Bird tournament; game time is 7:30 PM at MacLauchlan Arena.

 
November 9, 2016
Flames Win Nail Biter Over Caps; Improve to 2-1

The North River Flames were back on the ice on Wednesday evening, when they hosted the Summerside Western Capitals at the APM Centre.  With a good crowd on hand, the big BMW line, along with Jack Nordquist and Dylan Murphy, got things started for the Flames.  While the pace early on was sluggish, the Flames did start to exert some pressure three minutes in.  After a wrist shot from Ryan McLaughlin sailed over the net, Connor Hennessey found himself alone in front of the net, eventually burying a rebound with 9:08 showing on the clock.  The goal was assisted by Colby Adams and McLaughlin.  Unfazed, the Caps promptly created a two-on-one opportunity, and made no mistake in putting the puck behind starting goalie Josh Smith, with 8:26 left in the opening frame.  This brought new life to the Caps, who suddenly found themselves controlling the play.  However, half-way through the period, the Summerside goalie was forced to make an incredible, lying-on-his-back save on Flames forward Aaron McCloskey.  With 4:00 to go, the teams were assessed off-setting minor penalties.  This was the first of what proved to be a night-long, steady procession of players to the penalty box.  Just forty seconds after the coincidental minors, the Caps were handed a penalty after some physical play by both sides.  Good cycling of the puck by the Flames eventually resulted in a nice unassisted goal by pesky forward Cole Taylor, giving the home side a 2-1 lead.  In the post-goal celebration, North River was assessed a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.  The Flames were successful in killing off the penalty, and the first period ended with North River holding a 2-1 lead.


Very early on in the second stanza, Smith made a brilliant left pad save to maintain the one goal advantage. Less than a minute into the period, Summerside was forced to go on the penalty kill.  While on the powerplay, Bryce Wheatley was allowed to waltz right in front of the Caps net untouched, and nearly banged home an insurance marker.  While still on the powerplay, North River took a tripping penalty, creating a four-on-four situation.  Penalty trouble continued for the Flames, taking another tripping minor with 6:38 to play in the period.  Good forechecking by the likes of Taylor and McCloskey caused precious powerplay time for Summerside to tick away.  Then, the Caps were handed back-to-back penalties within thirty seconds of one another.  Despite several quality chances on the five-on-three advantage, the Flames were not able to find the back of the net, and the period ended with the Flames clinging to a one goal lead.


Early on in the third period, the big line of Wheatley, Andrew Beach, and Kyle Mason began throwing their weight around, forcing the Caps to ice the puck repeatedly.  Smith, for his part, was "steady as she goes," frustrasting the Caps all night.  Despite two more Summerside penalties, the Flames simply could not solve the Caps goalie for the remainder of the game.  With 6:00 to go in the period, this game still had all the uncertainty of a U.S. Presidential election.  All in all, it would be safe to say that the majority of chances were in favour of the Flames; however, the home squad had difficulty connecting on their passes.  With 1:32 to go, the Flames took a very untimely penalty.  Despite the Caps pulling their goalie, creating a six-on-four advantage, the Flames held on for the 2-1 victory.  Player of the game was Smith, who held the fort all night. The victory improves the Flames record to 2-1.

The Flames next game is scheduled for next Wednesday the 16th, when they'll host Sherwood.

 
November 2, 2016
Flames Drop Home Opener to Gulf Storm

The Flames played their home-opener on Wednesday evening, hosting Gulf Storm, in a battle of 1-0 teams. The North River squad had a bit of a different look from their first game of the season, with Bryce Wheatley and Jack Nordquist both attending to other commitments.  Affiliated players Ben Jenkins and Brayden Monaghan were called up for tonight's contest.

Dawson Doyle got the assignment to start in goal, and right from the opening faceoff, the second year netminder was sharp.  The Flames did set the tone early, with early pressure in the Gulf Storm end; however, quality scoring chances were elusive, which proved to be the theme for the night.  Suddenly, it looked as though the Flames might open the scoring when Connor Hennessey broke in alone, only to lose the puck as he was about to slide it into the open cage.  It's fair to say that the line of Cole Taylor, Aaron McCloskey, and Shaun Henshall had the most jump for North River early on.  With 6:30 to play in the first period, a patented Matt Mills rush just failed to convert.  All six defencemen seemed to step up their game, with quick transition plays out of their own zone.  With 4:46 to go, the Flames were penalized for kneeing. Despite Gulf Storm buzzing the net, the Flames, in front of the steady goaltending of Doyle, successfully killed off the penalty. With under two minutes to play, Hennessey flirted with breaking the ice, ringing one off the crossbar.  Gulf Storm was handed a four-minute head contact penalty with just seconds remaining on the clock.  Not to be outdone, the Flames squandered a power play opportunity by taking a penalty at the buzzer.  All in all, the first period was akin to eating a Big Mac; kind of sloppy, and you don't feel great afterwards.

The teams opened the second period with a little 4-on-4 action.  With more open ice, Kyle Mason found himself alone in front of the Gulf Storm net, but just failed to bury the biscuit.  A minute later, Colby Adams had a quality chance of his own, but couldn't convert.  As what happened in their season-opener against Sherwood, the Flames started taking the body midway through the second period.  This seemed to open the door to more chances for the home squad.  However, an unlucky bounce in the Flames zone resulted in the puck landing on the stick of a Gulf Storm player, who fired a nice shot low.  With 5:25 to go in the second period, the Flames trailed 1-0.  With time ticking down in the period, the line of Taylor, McCloskey, and Henshall had a glorious opportunity to tie the game, but somehow, the puck stayed out.  No doubt it's only a matter of time before this line starts burying their chances.

The third period saw the Flames take another penalty early on, followed a minute later by one more for good measure, creating a five-on-three advantage for the visitors.  Again, Doyle and his teammates showed poise in killing off both penalties.  With a minute to play, Doyle was pulled in favour of the extra attacker.  However, the Flames were not able to break through a stingy Gulf Storm defence.  Final score: Gulf Storm 1, North River 0.  This defeat for the Flames was not for lack of effort; it was just one of those games with no puck luck.

Player of the game for the Flames was Mills, who was steady as always on the blueline.

Next game for the Flames is slated for Wednesday, November 9, 7:20 at the APM Centre, when they'll host Summerside.

 
October 30, 2016
Flames Open Regular Season with Road Victory

The 2016-'17 Bantam AA North River Flames opened the regular season on the road, taking on the Sherwood Falcons at Cody Banks Arena on Saturday.

Josh Smith got the nod to start in goal for North River.  The first good scoring opportunity went to the Falcons, but a nice play by defenceman Will Mix thwarted the chance.  The line of Cole Taylor, Aaron McCloskey, and Shaun Henshall established tremendous forechecking early on, applying continual pressure to the Falcons; in other words, this trio was nothing short of a royal pain in the neck for Sherwood from the get-go.  Then the line of Andrew Beach, Kyle Mason, and Bryce Wheatley took to the ice.  All three being bigger than average, the BMW line displayed their strength and was very effective at controlling the play down low; no doubt this unit will be very hard to control for opponents as long as they're kept together.  On the defensive side, Matt Mills and Dylan Murphy were quick to move the puck out of their own zone and to get the play moving in the other direction.  Mid-way through the opening frame, a turnover by Sherwood resulted in a 2-on-1 involving Connor Hennessey and Colby Adams that just failed to convert.  With 4:00 to go in the first, a partial breakaway for Sherwood was calmly turned away by Smith, with help from defenceman Jack Nordquist.  As the clock wound down, a blast from the point by Murphy sailed just wide of the post, and the first period ended with the teams deadlocked at zero.

In the second period, the line of Taylor, McCloskey, and Henshall picked up right where they left off, harassing the Falcons and applying relentless pressure.  Finally, with 9:05 left in the second period, the ice was broken when Ryan McLaughlin threaded a pass to Hennessey, who made no mistake and buried one bar-down to give the Flames the lead; the shifty Adams also picked up an assist on the play.  That seemed to energize the Flames, who took control of the play and created more scoring chances.  Those in attendance remarked at how difficult North River was making it for Sherwood to move the puck with any consistency, with Malcolm MacDonald and Andrew Dooks often breaking up passes.  Just then, the Flames were assessed a penalty, and the Falcons were quick to pounce.  A nice play by Sherwood with 5:31 left in the period resulted in a goal, and seeing the game knotted at one.  More hard work by the BMW line created a quality scoring chance, with Beach barely missing cashing in while on the doorstep.  Nearing the end of the second period, the pace and physicality of the game really picked up.  With three minutes to go in the second stanza, Smith stopped a fast-charging Falcon player on a breakaway; this may very well have been the turning point in the game.  As the buzzer sounded, the teams were deadlocked at one; however, the Falcons were assessed a penalty, meaning the Flames would start the third period with a full two-minute powerplay.

With 25 seconds left in the man advantage, McLaughlin banged home a rebound to give the Flames a 2-1 lead; Mix picked up the assist after some great work along the blue line.  Then, with 9:26 to go, Mix took a hard check along the boards, and went to the bench in obvious discomfort.  However, to his credit, he did return to finish out the game.  On the positive side, the play resulted in the Falcons being assessed a penalty.  On the ensuing powerplay, MacDonald smartly deflected a shot from McLaughlin that found the back of the net, giving the Flames a 3-1 lead.  Not resting on their laurels, the Flames kept pressing, with Mills using his strength and speed to make a beautiful rush down the ice that nearly resulted in a fourth Flames goal.  Seemingly in control, a turnover by the Flames in the neutral zone resulted in the Falcons scoring a nice top-shelf goal with 3:42 to play.  Then things got really interesting, when the Flames took a cross-checking penalty with 3:24 showing on the clock.  However, very determined work by Nordquist and Dooks kept the Falcons from gaining too much territory in the Flames zone, with no good scoring chances created; this type of play allowed North River to kill off the penalty at a very crucial point in the game.  With a minute to go, the Falcons pulled their goalie, but to no avail.  Hennessey netted an insurance goal, assisted by Murphy and McLaughlin.  Final score: Flames 4, Falcons 2.

Player of the game as selected by the coaches was McLaughlin, who emerged from the dressing room donning the obligatory sport coat that, while nice, is decidedly NOT of the finest Italian cut.  This was a great team effort that resulted in a victory; a great way to start the season.

 
October 19, 2016
Exhibition Games

Hello everyone,

 

We have scheduled two exhibition games against Sherwood.

 

Saturday Oct 22 4:00 vs Sherwood   Cody Banks Arena

Wednesday Oct 26 7:20 vs Sherwood  APM Centre

 

Coaches

 
October 17, 2016
Players and Parents Meeting

Hello everyone,

 

We talked to the players today at practice and asked if they could be there an hour before practice on Wednesday around 6:20-6:30 to go over some things for the year.

 

We also ask if parents are available after to practice to have a quick meeting and to go over so house keeping items for the year.  If this time does not please advise and if the numbers are too low we may have to reschedule.  Contact information is on the team staff tab.

 

Thanks,

 
October 15, 2016
Final Team Roster 2016-2017

We the coaches would like to thank all players for their showcase of great skill and effort over the last two games.  Unfortunatly, we are tasked with the difficult decision of making cuts for the final roster.  Please see below the final roster for the 2016-2017 year:

 

Colby Adams

Andrew Beech

Andrew Dooks

Dawson Doyle

Connor Hennessey

Shawn Henshall

Malcolm MacDonald

Kyle Mason

Aaron McCloskey

Ryan McLaughlin

Matt Mills

Will Mix

Dylan Murphy

Jack Nordqvist

Josh Smith

Cole Taylor

Bryce Wheatley

 

Next practice times are:

Monday, October 17th at 6:00am @ APM 

Wednesday, October 19th at 7:20pm @ APM

If you are unable to make any of these ice times please advise one the of coaches.

 

Thank you all once again for you great effort at the tryouts, it was great to see such great talent in our young athletes.

 
October 10, 2016
First Round of Cuts
We as coaches would like to thank everyone for coming out to conditioning camp and the first try out. The first list of cuts will be posted tomorrow by 5:00 PM Thanks Coaches
 

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