Abbotsford Pilots continue hot streak

Second-place hockey club posts big victories over Richmond, Port Moody

Pilots forward Kolby Steen winds up for a shot during PJHL action against Port Moody on Friday evening.

Pilots forward Kolby Steen winds up for a shot during PJHL action against Port Moody on Friday evening.

The Abbotsford Pilots continue to heat up in 2017, and posted two more wins on Thursday and Friday to keep pace with the top teams of the Pacific Junior Hockey League.

Aside from a pair of stumbles at the PJHL’s New Year Classic earlier this month, the Pilots are undefeated in 2017 and exploded for eight goals against the Port Moody Panthers at home on Friday.

The eight goals were scored by eight different players for Abbotsford, showcasing the team’s offensive depth.

The Panthers opened the scoring at 5:18 of the first period, but Abbotsford answered back with goals from Oliver Alcock at 9:08 and Noah Wiebe at 16:20 to go up 2-1 after one.

The Pilots caught fire in the second period, scoring three unanswered goals and adding a fourth late in the period to go up 6-3 after two.

Nate Castonguay, Cobrin Genge, Mateo Toledo and Kolby Steen all scored in the middle frame.

Abbotsford added goals from Mitchell Plevy and Philip Gauthier in the third to win 8-4.

Despite the win, Pilots head coach Jim Cowden wasn’t overly pleased with his team’s efforts.

“It was sloppy out there,” he said. “That was probably one of the sloppiest games I’ve seen us play in a long time.”

Cowden said the Pilots still need to work on playing in their own end.

“I thought we were terrible in our own end tonight,” he said. “Our core group of forwards I thought looked very good. The power play was good, and I thought the guys were moving the puck well out there.”

He said the defence still needs some work, and said their play should improve with the acquisition of Tyler Wickman from the Mission City Outlaws on Jan. 10. Abbotsford dealt Kyle Lennea and Haydn Downing across the river for Wickman, who hails from Abbotsford.

The Pilots also dealt forward Alexander Methorst to the Delta Ice Hawks for future considerations Jan. 10.

Genge, Castonguay, Steen, Alcock, Wiebe, Logan Favel and Carter Shannon all recorded multi-point games for Abbotsford. Pilots goalie Jacob Crawford made 30 saves for the win.

Friday’s win came off a 4-2 victory on Thursday over the Richmond Sockeyes.

Steen, Gauthier, Shannon and Travis Halladay tallied for the Pilots. Two goals in 98 seconds in the middle of the second period sealed the win for Abbotsford.

Plevy and Shannon had multi-point games for the Pilots, and Crawford made 26 saves for the victory.

The wins improve Abbotsford’s record to 23 wins, 11 losses and three overtime losses. They remain in second place in the Harold Brittain conference.

Cowden said he doesn’t really care who his team plays in the first round. It’s likely Abbotsford will square off against either the Ridge Meadows Flames or the Outlaws in round one.

“We’re not worried about playoff positioning; we’re more worried about getting our guys right and ready,” he said.

The Pilots next travel to Aldergrove to take on the first-place Kodiaks tonight (Wednesday) and then return home to host the Grandview Steelers on Friday.

Faceoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at MSA Arena.