The Abbotsford Pilots took care of business during the club’s first appearance on home ice in 2017.
Abbotsford exploded for five goals in the third period on Friday, to skate away with a 7-2 win over the Ridge Meadows Flames.
The teams scored two goals apiece in the first period, with Brady Morton scoring shorthanded and Mateo Toledo banging in a rebound from in front of the net.
After a scoreless second period, the Pilots scored five unanswered goals in the third and chased Flames starting goalie Jack Stradiotti. Corbin Genge, Thomas Pickering, Travis Halladay, Jamie Housch and Noah Wiebe all tallied for Abbotsford.
Pilots head coach Jim Cowden said he liked the way his team responded after a penalty-filled first period.
“I thought we worked hard overall but took some really undisciplined penalties in the first period,” he said. “But we rectified that and I thought we played with a lot of energy in the second. In the third, we just dominated them.”
Cowden explained that he limited the ice-time of players who took poor penalties, and it forced his players to play smarter and pick their game up.
Abbotsford outshot the Flames 36-35, and really poured it on in the third with 15 shots. Pilots goalie Jacob Crawford made 33 saves to post his 13th regular season win. Wiebe, Morton, Halladay, Genge and Housch all had multi-point games. The Pilots swept the three star selections, with Genge, Toledo and Halladay all receiving the honour.
With only weeks remaining in the Pacific Junior Hockey League season, the Flames are likely to be the Pilots’ first-round opponent. Cowden said it won’t be easy taking on Ridge Meadows.
“We’ve still got lots of work to do as a team,” he said. “They [Flames] work hard and they’re a good team. It’ll be a tough series.”
Abbotsford remains steady in second place in the Harold Brittain conference, with a record of 21 wins, 11 losses and three overtime losses. They’re nine points up on the third-place Flames, and also nine points back of the first-place Aldergrove Kodiaks.
The Pilots hit the road on Thursday, when they travel to Richmond to battle the Sockeyes. They return home on Friday and host the Port Moody Panthers. Face-off is 7:30 p.m. at MSA Arena.