Abbotsford was in control early, battled back to tie the game in the second, but then fell apart in the third to lose 6-3 on home ice to close off the Pacific Junior Hockey League‘s 2016 calendar.
Pilots forward Mateo Toledo scored his team-high 20th goal of the season to open the scoring at 9:50 of the first period, and that lead stood after one.
Richmond then scored three unanswered goals in the third period, scoring a trio of goals on the power play to open up a 3-1 lead by 8:38 of the second period. Abbotsford then replied with a pair of power play goals of their own, as Kolby Steen and Carter Shannon scored with the man advantage to tie the game at three after two periods.
The Sockeyes took over in the third, as they scored at 4:42, 11:20 and added a power play goal at 14:56 to earn the 6-3 win.
Special teams were a huge factor, as both team’s penalty killing units seemed to be in a giving mood before Christmas. Richmond was four for six with the man advantage, while Abbotsford connected twice on four opportunities.
Pilots goalie Jacob Crawford made 20 saves in the loss. Steen and Noah Wiebe both had multi-point games for Abbotsford.
The Pilots remain in second place in the Harold Brittain conference heading into the holiday break, and sport a record of 19 wins, 10 losses and three overtime losses. Abbotsford is nine points behind the first place Aldergrove Kodiaks, and also have an eight point cushion on third place Ridge Meadows Flames.
The loss comes after a 6-5 setback in overtime to the Delta Ice Hawks in Ladner on Dec. 21. Abbotsford had five different one goal leads in the game, but couldn’t hang on for the win.
Pilots goal scorers in the game were Nate Castonguay, Steen (two), Jamie Housch and Oliver Alcock. Crawford made 25 saves in the loss.
Next up for the Pilots is the PJHL’s annual New Year showcase event in Richmond from Jan. 1 to 3.
The Pilots take on the Flames on Jan. 1 at 4 p.m. and then the Surrey Knights on Jan. 2 at 10 a.m. Both games occur at the Minoru Arena.
The club returns to action at the MSA Arena on Jan. 5 when they host the Flames. Face-off is set for 7:30 p.m.