For the first time ever, the Abbotsford Pilots are starting their Pacific Junior Hockey League regular season in November.
After a number of delays and re-scheduling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pilots will be competing in cohort with the Mission City Outlaws and the expansion Chilliwack Jets.
Mission and Chilliwack have already played each other six times in the cohort, with the Outlaws winning five of the six games.
Abbotsford will officially be added to the mix on Friday, when they host the Outlaws at MSA Arena. The Pilots then head to Mission on Saturday and travel to Chilliwack on Sunday. After this weekend, Abbotsford will play six more games against the two teams this month.
The 2020-21 PJHL season will consist of a 36-game schedule, with teams divided into four cohorts. Teams will only be allowed to play games against the other teams within their cohort for the first half of the season. In December, the league will break for the required 14-day quarantine period, then the cohorts will be shuffled for the remainder of the season.
The cohort groups for the second half of the season have not yet been announced.
Fans are not permitted to attend PJHL games due to COVID-19 building restrictions.
Four of the Pilots top five scorers from 2019-20 are on the roster this season, as Hunter Brown (28 points), Sahvan Gill (23 points), Sean McCracken (21 points) and Alexander Beechey (19 points) are all returning. There are also six players who have Abbotsford listed as their hometown this season, including rookies Dalton Edwards and Bailey Pollex.
The Abbotsford Summit Centre has also been hosting some PJHL games this season, as it has become the “home rink” for the Ridge Meadows Flames for this season.
The league had originally planned to begin play back on Sept. 29, but issues surrounding the availability of facilities and the number of people allowed at sporting events set those plans back.