Late goals lift Pilots in season opener

In their regular season opener, the Abbotsford Pilots effectively illustrated why "playing a full 60 minutes" is such a well-worn hockey cliché.

Kevin Lourens of the Pilots (right) swoops around the net during his team's home opener at MSA Arena on Friday.

Kevin Lourens of the Pilots (right) swoops around the net during his team's home opener at MSA Arena on Friday.

In their regular season opener, the Abbotsford Pilots effectively illustrated why “playing a full 60 minutes” is such a well-worn hockey cliché.

Goals from Christopher Vinette and Kevin Lourens in the final minute of the third period lifted the local junior B squad to a 5-3 victory over the North Delta Devils at MSA Arena.

Pilots head coach Jim Cowden felt it was a rather ragged performance by his squad, a product of the fact it’s still early in the season.

“Our team play isn’t near where it should be,” he noted. “But you know what, we’ve only practiced two or three times together. So we’ve got lots of work to do.”

The Pilots raced out to a 3-1 lead through 20 minutes, with Justin Dorey, Scott Rae-Douglas and Ryan Stewart supplying the offence. The Devils clawed their way back to even thanks to a pair of power-play goals from Manuveer Mahil.

But with overtime looming, Vinette struck on the power play, coming out of the corner and ripping a wrist shot past Devils goalie Alexander Ahnert. Lourens, with four seconds left, sealed the win with an empty-netter.

Lourens finished with three points (one goal, two assists), while goalie Riley Parker stopped 21 of 24 shots to earn the win.

The Pilots are back in action on Tuesday evening, when they visit the Delta Ice Hawks (7:30 p.m., Ladner Leisure Centre). They return home to host the Port Moody Black Panthers on Friday (7:30 p.m., MSA Arena).