The host Abbotsford Hawks opened the Bantam Tier 1 provincial championships on Sunday with one of their biggest games of the tourney.
A huge 3-2 victory over the elite Burnaby Winter Club (BWC) entry made Abby an early favourite to play for gold.
The provincials are being held at MSA Arena over spring break, with the championship game set for Wednesday at 8 p.m.
The BWC went 20-0 in league play this year. The Hawks finished second to them, at 15-3-2.
But Abbotsford beat Burnaby in the Final Four tournament, and again on Sunday.
The Hawks were plagued with penalties early in the game, and got down 2-0.
But the game also turned around for them on a penalty – a brutal knee that resulted in a five-minute power play, and two Abby goals.
Matt Revel stripped the puck from a BWC player, moved it to Mitch Skapski, and his saucer pass sent Jordan Kawaguchi in alone on goal. A deke and a roofed backhand made it 2-1.
Skapski scored the second goal providing traffic in front of the Burnaby net, as a point shot hit him and deflected in.
That made it 2-2 after two periods.
In the third period Revele set up Kawaguchi at the top of the circle, and his wrist shot provided the game winner.
BWC went to the power play with 1:20 left, and pulled their goaltender for a six-on-four man advantage. They worked a nice back-door play, ending with their player snapping a cross-ice pass at a wide-open net, but Abby goalie Nathan Hargrave shot his pad out for a game-saving stop.
Coach Troy Campbell likes Abby’s chances.
“We have three lines that can all play. They’ve been working hard and competing hard all year, and hopefully we can capitalize on this opportunity.”
The Hawks manhandled Prince George 7-3 on Sunday night. Centreman Francis Banford had a hat trick, while his linemate Jake Virtanen enjoyed a five-point night, with two goals and three assists.
The provincials is a six-team tournament, and the Hawks play every team in round-robin action. Then the top two advance to Wednesday’s final.
Tonight Abbotsford faces Cloverdale at 8 p.m., then round out the schedule on Wednesday at 2 p.m. against Nanaimo.