The junior hockey club didn’t make fans wait too long to get the chance to participate in the annual Teddy Bear Toss event, with the Pilots scoring at 12:16 of the first period when Nicholas Methorst lit the lamp.
That goal tied the game up at one, but just a few minute later Alexander Methorst put the Pilots up 2-1, and they would never trail in the game again.
The Pilots got two goals from Mateo Toledo in the second period, and Alexander Methorst potted his second of the game sandwiched in between a goal from the Panthers to put Abbotsford up 5-2 after two.
The Panthers made it a two-goal game again in the third, but the Abbotsford’s Baylee Wright added some late insurance to seal the win. Wright had a five-point night for the Pilots, and now has a league leading 63 points in 28 games. He’s 11 points up on the second leading scorer in the Pacific Junior Hockey League.
Pilots goalie Gunnar Neilsen made 25 saves for his 13th win of the season. Abbotsford’s special teams were also effective against the Panthers, killing off all six times they were shorthanded, and also converting once with the man advantage.
Friday’s game saw dozens of toys land on the ice after the Pilots first goal, with all the donations going to the Salvation Army for local families in need during the holidays. Santa Claus also made an appearance at the MSA Arena on Friday before his big day on Monday.
The win helped the Pilots leapfrog over the Ridge Meadows Flames to land back in first place in the Harold Brittain conference heading into the holiday break. Abbotsford’s record sits at 19 wins, nine losses, one tie and three overtime losses.
The Pilots are now off till Jan. 5, when they head to Richmond for the PJHL Winter Classic event. Abbotsford takes on the Ridge Meadows Flames at 1 p.m. on Jan. 5 and then battle the Aldergrove Kodiaks at 4 p.m. on Jan. 7. Both games occur at the Richmond Arena.
The club’s next home game occurs on Jan. 12, when the Grandview Steelers come to town.
For more on the team, visit abbotsfordpilots.com.