For the first time since Feb. 7, 2020, the Abbotsford Pilots are back on home ice at MSA Arena.
The Pacific Junior Hockey League team’s home opener is set for Friday (Sept. 10) when they take on the Chilliwack Jets for the first time ever in a regular season game. Face-off is set for 7:15 p.m.
The COVID-19 pandemic destroyed most of the 2020-21 season for the PJHL, with the Pilots only suiting up twice before restrictions delayed and then eventually cancelled league play. Abbotsford posted one win and one loss in 2020-21.
Teams were organized in different regional cohorts and games were spaced out, but by early-November games had been postponed. Teams never returned to action and the season officially was cancelled in March.
The season opener for the Pilots occurs on Wednesday (Sept. 8) when they take on the Aldergrove Kodiaks at the Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre.
Friday night has traditionally been home game nights for the Pilots and 2021-22 continues that trend. The next 14 Friday’s will feature Pilots hockey at the MSA Arena. Twenty of the Pilots 22 home games are on Friday nights, with a Saturday night game set for Feb. 5 against the Kodiaks.
Masks will be mandatory for fans attending all games and no proof of vaccination is yet required, but that will likely change after Sept. 13. Ticketed sporting events will require vaccination after that date.
The annual PJHL Winter Classic on Thursday, Dec. 30 in Richmond is the team’s other home game. The Winter Classic is a series of games featuring all the PJHL teams from Dec. 30 to Jan. 2. The final regular season game for the team is set for Feb. 11.
The Pilots roster is a young squad, with 12 rookies. Abbotsford talent on the team includes: forwards Dalton Edwards, Austin Moar and Aaron Burton, defenceman Connor Moar and goalie Prabchain Mahal.
Alexander Beechey is the team captain, with Adrian Schaefer, Austin Moar and Hunter Brown as assistant captains.
Head coach Jim Cowden is back behind the bench, with assistant coaches Mitch Plevy and Daniel Lange.
The Pilots also suited up in preseason action earlier this year, posting a 2-1 record. The club earned a 6-5 win over the Mission City Outlaws in Mission on Aug. 28, lost 6-5 to the Jets in Chilliwack on Aug. 29 and beat the Surrey Knights 4-3 in Surrey on Sept. 2.
For more on the team, visit pilots.pjhl.hockeytech.com.