The Abbotsford Pilots return to Pacific Junior Hockey League play was a quick one, as the club returned to action on Friday but by Sunday all scheduled games were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Pilots were the last PJHL team to hit the ice and joined the Cohort 2 group, which also includes the Mission City Outlaws and the expansion Chilliwack Jets.
Friday’s game saw the Pilots welcome the Outlaws to Abbotsford’s MSA Arena, and Mission took over early with three goals in the first. Abbotsford’s Michael Penman got the Pilots on the board 47 seconds into the second, but Mission tallied two more goals to go up 5-1. Pilots defenceman Mitchell Metcalfe scored late in the second, and no goals were scored in the third.
The 5-2 loss saw the Oulaws score three times on the power play and outshoot the Pilots 33-22. Abbotsford goalie Brock Machholz made 28 saves in a losing cause.
The Pilots then traveled to the Mission Leisure Centre on Saturday and handed the Outlaws just their second overtime loss on the season with a 5-4 win.
Abbotsford jumped out to a 3-0 lead early, with Braden Chenier, Dalton Edwards and Metcalfe all potting goals. However, Mission tied the game at three before the period concluded.
Edwards scored his second in the middle frame to put the Pilots up 4-3, but Mission tied the game at four early into the third period and sent the game to overtime. Nothing was solved in the extra frame, and Abbotsford went on to earn the shootout win.
Machholz made 37 saves to earn the win, and Edwards was named the game’s first star.
The Pilots entered the game knowing that it would be their final one for at least two weeks after a Provincial Health Order from Dr. Bonnie Henry on Saturday afternoon determined that indoor sports where physically distancing cannot be maintained will be suspended for two weeks.
The Pilots had been scheduled to take on the Jets in Chilliwack on Sunday night. They had also been scheduled to have four more games this month, which have been put on hold. It’s unclear when games will resume.