With his team’s season – and indeed his junior hockey career – on the line on Friday evening, Kevin Lourens came up with a spectacular play to breathe new life into the Abbotsford Pilots at the Cyclone Taylor Cup.
With the Pilots and Delta Ice Hawks deadlocked in a 4-4 tie late in the third period of a pivotal round-robin match-up at the provincial junior B championship tournament, Scott Rae-Douglas flipped the puck from the corner to the front of the net. Lourens, driving hard to the cage, batted it out of mid-air past a startled Delta goalie Glenn Ferguson.
That goal was the difference, as the Pilots knocked off their Pacific International Junior Hockey League rival 6-4 at MSA Arena in a game that was a virtual must-win for the tournament hosts.
“We were fighting for our season,” said Lourens, a 20-year-old in his final year of junior eligibility. “We were playing for everybody on this team.
“It was one of those flukey goals. But maybe the hockey gods were on our side, you know? It felt really good.”
The Pilots also got two goals from Justin Dorey and one apiece from Matt Genovese, Brady Lawlor and Luke Venema, while David Rudin, Ryan Stewart, Cody Fidgett and Mark Whitely replied for the Ice Hawks. Abbotsford goalie Riley Parker turned aside 29 of 33 shots in the victory.
“The first period and a half, we didn’t have enough desire or intensity,” Pilots head coach Jim Cowden analyzed. “But the third period, we really took over.”
With the win, the Pilots (1-1-0) resuscitated their championship hopes, while simultaneously seizing control of their own destiny in the tourney.
The top two teams after the round robin move on to Sunday’s final (3 p.m., MSA Arena), and the Pilots face the Beaver Valley Nitehawks (0-1-1) in their last round-robin game on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. If they win, they’re off to the title game.
Delta (0-1-1) takes on the Victoria Cougars (2-0-0) in Saturday’s early game at 3 p.m. The Cougars have already secured a spot in the final, while Delta needs a win to have any shot at advancing.
Victoria beat Beaver Valley 3-0 on Friday, as Chris Bannister, Josh Wyatt and Samuel Rice scored third-period goals and Evan Roch made 29 saves for the shutout.