By Ben Lypka
The second season started with a thud for the Mission City Outlaws.
The Harold Brittain conference regular season champs opened their first round series against the Ridge Meadows Flames on Tuesday, and stumbled in game one with a 5-4 loss.
Ridge Meadows jumped out to a 2-0 lead early into the second period, but Mission’s Kyle Lennea drew the Outlaws within one. The Flames regained the two-goal lead a minute later to lead 3-1 after two.
Mission came out flying in third, with goals from Kolby Steen and Lennea, but the Flames regained the lead at 16:29. Steen tied the game up again, but Ridge scored a late power play goal to steal game one from the Outlaws.
Mission goalie Jeffrey Veitch stopped 29 shots in the loss, and Steen had a four-point night in a losing cause.
The teams played game two on Wednesday with the Outlaws losing 6-3.
Last Saturday, the Outlaws captured their first ever Brittain conference title by defeating the Abbotsford Pilots 5-2.
The teams traded four goals in the first period, with Baylee Wright and Noah Wiebe putting the Outlaws ahead, only to have the Pilots tie the game up twice.
Mission took over in the second period, scoring a pair of power play goals and one even strength to pull ahead 5-2. The second period outburst proved to be enough for the win.
Kolby Steen, Bryce Pisiak and David McGowan all tallied for the Outlaws. Head coach Brad Veitch said the second period was the difference.
“We started really slow and it was their lack of discipline in the second period that really opened up the game for us,” he said. “We were able to capitalize on some of their bad penalties and that put the game out of reach.”
Veitch said the win is the culmination of years of effort from the many veterans on the Outlaws.
“I’m proud of these guys,” he said. “A lot of them have been here for a few years, and when they first came here this team was in the bottom. I think it means a lot for the guys in the room. It all started back in August, this was the goal so for them to achieve that goal over such a long period of time is great for them.”
He added that it’s been a huge turnaround for the organization. The Outlaws won only eight games in 2012-13, 11 in 2013-14, broke through last year with 21 wins, and set a new franchise record with 32 this year.
“For the organization it shows all the work we’ve done the last few years,” he said. “We’ve built to this moment. We took a big step last year and we’re trying to build a winning culture here.
Game three of the first round series against the Flames goes tonight in Maple Ridge, with game four at the Mission Leisure Centre on Saturday. Face-off is set for 6:45 p.m.