The Abbotsford Pilots turned in a pair of solid efforts on home ice on the weekend, but still found themselves on the brink of playoff elimination when it was all said and done.
After dropping the first two games of their best-of-seven Pacific Junior Hockey League semifinal to the Aldergrove Kodiaks on the road, the Pilots returned to MSA Arena on Friday and promptly got back into the series with a dramatic 3-2 double-overtime win.
The Kodiaks, though, bounced back for a 3-2 win of their own on Saturday to take a 3-1 series lead.
“Honestly, we should have won both games,” said Pilots coach Jim Cowden, who was, by and large, pleased with his team’s play.
“But we didn’t, and our backs are against the wall. Now we’ve got to play some desperate hockey.”
The Pilots got a huge 45-save effort from goalie William Latimer on Friday, along with a terrific night from the penalty killers, who snuffed all nine of the Kodiaks’ man-advantage opportunities.
Brad Parker and Braeden Monk score for Abby in regulation, while Jonathan Philley and Brandon Dolby replied for Aldergrove.
Pilots defenceman Austin Edwards ended matters at 6:15 of the second extra session, scoring on the power play with Kodiaks forward Scott McHaffie in the penalty box for tripping.
On Saturday, the Pilots twice held one-goal leads via tallies from Royce Rossignol and Francis Bamford, but the Kodiaks drew even both times on goals by Elvis Jansons and Cameron Davitt.
Jeremy Lagler’s power-play strike late in the second period gave Aldergrove its first lead of the game, and goalie Jordan Liem (26 saves) made it stand up as the game-winner.
The Kodiaks have a chance to eliminate the Pilots on Wednesday at Aldergrove Community Arena (7:15 p.m.). Game 6, if necessary, would be Friday at MSA Arena (7:30 p.m.).
“The goaltending has been phenomenal at both ends,” Cowden said, paying tribute to Latimer and Liem.
“It’s not the end of the world (being down 3-1 in the series), put it that way. They’ve got to win four games. Hopefully we’ll make it hard on them.”