Sports

Pilots sluggish coming out of Christmas break, but split weekend games

Ryan Hotner of the Pilots (right) knocks Aldergrove Kodiaks forward MacLean Hewitt off-balance during Friday night’s game at MSA Arena. The Pilots dropped a 1-0 decision. - John Morrow
Ryan Hotner of the Pilots (right) knocks Aldergrove Kodiaks forward MacLean Hewitt off-balance during Friday night’s game at MSA Arena. The Pilots dropped a 1-0 decision.
— image credit: John Morrow

Watching the Abbotsford Pilots play on Friday, head coach Jim Cowden wondered if his charges had consumed too much turkey during the two-week Christmas/New Year’s break.

Despite out-shooting the Aldergrove Kodiaks 25-17 at MSA Arena, the Pilots suffered a 1-0 defeat. Scott McHaffie’s goal late in the second period stood up as the game-winner, and Kodiaks goalie Mark Menicucci posted the shutout.

“We were sluggish,” Cowden said, noting that his team had just a single one-hour practice coming out of the break.

“Moving our feet or finishing, nothing seemed to work. We were a step behind in every aspect. We weren’t playing together as a unit either, compared to where we left off.”

The Pilots made some strides on Saturday, hitting the road and earning a 4-3 win over the North Vancouver Wolf Pack. Luke Venema, Devon Allenby and Dylan Cusmano scored to give Abbotsford a 3-1 lead, but the Wolf Pack rallied in the third period to knot the score. Colton Cowden came through in the clutch, though, notching the game-winner with less than three minutes to go.

The Pilots are back in action Tuesday, facing the Delta Ice Hawks on the road (7:30 p.m., Ladner Leisure Centre). It’s the first time the two teams have played since a brawl-marred tilt on Dec. 14 which saw 37 games’ worth of suspensions handed out in the aftermath.

“I’m not overly happy with the way they conducted themselves,” Jim Cowden said, clearly not ready to forgive and forget just yet. “But we’ve just got to play hockey, and we’ll be fine.”

The Pilots’ next home game is Friday vs. the Mission City Outlaws (7:30 p.m., MSA Arena).

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