The Abbotsford Pilots are still waiting to see who they will square off against in the first round of the Pacific Junior Hockey League playoffs, but saw a potential opponent take them down on home ice on Friday.
Abbotsford welcomed their arch-rival the Mission City Outlaws to the MSA Arena, and couldn’t recover from a mid-second period collapse to lose 5-3.
Mitchell Plevy opened the scoring for Abbotsford at 3:54 of the first, but Mission’s Ryan Sharma evened the game up five minutes later.
The Outlaws took over the game in the second period, with Nicolas Bizzutto and Sharma scoring about three minutes apart to give Mission a two-goal lead after two.
Abbotsford’s Carter Shannon made it a one-goal game at 8:25 of the third period, but 32 seconds later Michael Sande put the Outlaws back up by two. Noah Wiebe pulled the Pilots back to within one at 10:58, but that was as close as Abbotsford would get. Mission’s Sammy Zeinab added a late goal to make it a 5-3 final.
Penalty killing was an issue for the Pilots, as they allowed two power play goals on eight opportunities. Abbotsford’s Jacob Crawford made 32 saves in the loss. The third period saw tempers flare, with a total of 118 penalty minutes assessed.
The loss came on the heels of a dominant 8-1 win over the Surrey Knights on the road on Thursday.
The teams were tied at one after just 68 seconds, but then the Pilots went on to score seven unanswered goals to earn the win.
Shannon, Kolby Steen (two) and Philip Gauthier all scored in the first period to make it 4-1 for Abbotsford after one.
Wiebe, on the power play, recorded the lone goal of the second period. He scored again in the third, with Jamie Housch and Logan Favel also tallying.
Pilots goalie Noah Giesbrecht made 25 saves for his ninth win on the season.
Abbotsford record now sits at 24 wins, 13 losses and four overtime losses, and they will finish second overall in the Harold Brittain conference.
The Pilots will open the PJHL playoffs against either the Outlaws or the Ridge Meadows Flames. Both of those teams have 40 points, but the Flames have one game in hand.
Abbotsford’s final home game of the regular season occurs on Friday, when they welcome the Aldergrove Kodiaks to the MSA Arena. Face-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
The Pilots then hit the road to take on the Port Moody Panthers on Saturday. Abbotsford closes the regular season with a visit to Mission to take on the Outlaws on Feb. 11.
The playoffs kick off in mid-February, with the Pilots receiving home ice advantage in round one.
For more on the team, visit abbotsfordpilots.com.