The Abbotsford Pilots and Mission City Outlaws, shown here competing in exhibition action earlier this year, renew hostilities on Friday night at MSA Arena. Bob Friesen photo

Abbotsford Pilots hosting home opener tonight

Pilots welcome Mission City Outlaws to MSA Arena

The Pacific Junior Hockey League season officially opened on Wednesday night for the Abbotsford Pilots, and the locals scored a 3-2 win over the Langley Trappers on the road.

Pilots forward Hunter Brown became the answer to a trivia question at 9:26 of the first period, as he scored the first Abbotsford regular season goal for 2019-20. The power play marker drew assists from Mason Smith and Austin Moar.

The Pilots stretched the lead to 2-0 in the second period when defender Sahvan Gill scored early into the frame. Sean McCracken and Devon Wolfe collected the helpers.

Langley answered back early in the third with a power play goal, but Smith restored the two-goal lead at 13:46. Langley connected on the power play 70 seconds later, but it would be as close as the Trappers would get.

Pilots goalie Brock Machholz stopped 30 shots to collect his first-ever PJHL win. Machholz was excellent in between the pipes, as Abbotsford was outshot 32-18 in the game. Wednesday was the first-ever PJHL start for the Chilliwack native.

Wednesday also saw the Pilots unveil its leadership group for the season, with forward Jared Pitkehly named captain. Defenders Matthew Dyck and Ethan Rideout will serve as assistant captains.

Pikethly is entering his third season with the Pilots, and last year collected 17 points in 42 games. The Chilliwack native also had a strong playoff performance, finishing second on the team in goals for the postseason with three.

Dyck, who hails from Langley, is also entering his third season with the Pilots and scored six points in 28 games for the club in 2018-19.

Rideout, from Chilliwack, spent last season with the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s Revelstoke Grizzlies. Rideout and the Grizzlies captured both that league’s championship trophy last season, as well as the Cyclone Taylor Cup. Rideout scored eight points in 39 games for the Grizzlies last season, and also spent time with the British Columbia Hockey League’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

Other returning Pilots players include: Will Hazell-Penaluna, Kellan Toews, Dylan Campbell, Noah Findlater, Tyson Goryniuk and Dawson Wollf. Rookies on the team include: Reid Dunham, Kyle Mair, Keith Chester, Mitchell MacLeod, David Moody and Brian Pol.

Machholz and returning goalie Keaton Dyck will man the pipes to start the season.

The Pilots entered the season after an exhibition schedule that saw them finish 1-2. The team fell 4-3 to the Mission City Outlaws on Aug. 17 and then lost 5-0 to the Delta Ice Hawks, both on the road. Abbotsford finished the exhibition run with a 7-4 win over Delta on home ice.

Next up is the club’s home opener, which occurs on Friday night at MSA Arena. The Pilots host the Outlaws, with a face-off set for 7:30 p.m.

The team then hits the road for a re-match with the Ice Hawks, before returning home on Sept. 13 to host the Aldergrove Grizzlies.

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