Sports

Pilots in seventh heaven, extend win streak by beating Steelers, Flames

Pilots goalie Aaron Oakley turns aside a shot in Friday’s victory over the Grandview Steelers at MSA Arena. - John Morrow
Pilots goalie Aaron Oakley turns aside a shot in Friday’s victory over the Grandview Steelers at MSA Arena.
— image credit: John Morrow

With his team having reeled off seven wins in a row, Abbotsford Pilots head coach Jim Cowden's take on the situation – if he's right – is terrible news for the rest of the league.

"All-around, we're a better hockey club than we were last year," Cowden said nonchalantly, in the midst of an analysis of his team at this stage of the season.

That's some high praise, in light of the fact the Pilots won both the Cyclone Taylor Cup provincial championship and the Keystone Cup, emblematic of Western Canadian junior B supremacy, in 2011-12.

But looking at the numbers, Cowden might have a point. The Pilots lead the Pacific Junior Hockey League in goals scored (117) and goals against (54), and they're on an 11-1-1 tear since the start of November.

Abbotsford is tops in the PJHL with 40 points on the strength of a 19-6-2 record, though it should be noted the Richmond Sockeyes (19-5-1, 39 points) have two games in hand.

"We've just got a good group," Cowden said. "They work hard, they support each other and they're committed to each other. You can have the most talented team, but if they're not on the same page, it doesn't work.

"We can play really any style, whether it's the physical aspect or the finesse aspect. We've got the grit, our D doesn't give up a lot of chances, and our goaltending's good."

The Pilots continued their hot play with a pair of weekend wins at MSA Arena – 5-1 over the Grandview Steelers on Friday, and 7-2 over the Ridge Meadows Flames on Saturday.

Michael Tebbutt (one goal, two assists) and Adam Rossi (three assists) notched three points apiece vs. Grandview, while Kyle Star scored twice.

Brandon Daase was the offensive catalyst vs. Ridge Meadows, racking up two goals and two assists, while Rossi had his second straight three-point night with a goal and two helpers.

Aaron Oakley was steady in goal both nights for Abby, running his league-leading wins total to 15.

• The Pilots are back in action at MSA Arena on Friday, when they host the Delta Ice Hawks at 7:30 p.m.

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