The Abbotsford Pilots fell victim to an epic rally on Saturday evening, as the Port Moody Black Panthers came roaring back from a three-goal deficit to steal a 5-4 victory.
Playing on the road, the local junior B hockey club raced out to a 4-1 lead midway through the second period, courtesy of goals from Justin Dorey, Ryan Stewart, Terrence Limbert and Brad Parker.
But the Panthers clawed all the way back. Trevor Kang scored twice before the middle frame was up to trim the deficit to one. The Pilots preserved the lead through most of the third, but Julian Klaric knotted the score on the power play with less than three minutes remaining. Port Moody’s Taylor Young capped the comeback, scoring with just 34 seconds left.
The game summed up the Pilots’ inconsistent season to this point – they’ve looked great at times, shaky at others.
But it’s worth noting that the Pilots are enduring a litany of injuries – forwards Riley Lamb, Kevin Lourens, Brandon Daase and Luke Venema, defenceman Brett Kolins, and goalie Riley Parker are among those sidelined. And at 16-8-2-0, they’re just four points back of the Aldergrove Kodiaks for first place in the Pacific International Junior Hockey League‘s Harold Brittain Conference.
Pilots head coach Jim Cowden said the injuries have been a blessing in disguise in some ways, as rookies like Brady Lawlor, Dakota Schipper, Kyle Star and Eric Roberts have played more prominent roles than they would have otherwise.
“We’ve added a lot of secondary scoring that we didn’t know we had,” Cowden said. “We’re still a couple weeks away. We’re taking our time, and it doesn’t matter right now. We’ve just got to get healthy, and shoot for the playoffs.”
• The Pilots are back in action on Friday, as they host the Kodiaks at MSA Arena (7:30 p.m. start).