Forward Brady Lawlor (middle) is one of several Pilots veterans making a difference this season.

Pilots already in high gear

Over the years, a slow start by the Abbotsford Pilots has almost become a rite of fall.

Over the years, a slow start by the Abbotsford Pilots has almost become a rite of fall.

The local junior B hockey club, under head coach Jim Cowden, has traditionally come moseying out of the gates. The Pilots tend to use the first couple months of the season to round into form and find chemistry, before inevitably rocketing back to their usual place near the top of the Pacific International Junior Hockey League standings during the second half.

That’s why it’s somewhat surprising, even in light of the Pilots’ status as defending Western Canadian champions, to see them in first place in the Harold Brittain Conference in the early going. After dropping their opening game of the 2012-13 campaign to the Delta Ice Hawks, Abbotsford has reeled off five straight wins.

“Every year, we seem to start off 2-4 or 1-5,” Cowden noted with a wry chuckle. “But this year, we’ve gotten out of the gate on a little bit of a roll.”

A big part of the hot start, Cowden believes, was the decision to schedule just two preseason games, down from eight last year.

“I just thought everybody gets too complacent – the regular season rolls around, and it’s just another game,” he said. “We had two or three extra practices instead.

“After our first game, when we lost to Delta 3-1, I thought maybe I’d made a mistake and should have played a couple more. But as it turned out, it sort of went according to plan.”

The Pilots have gotten outstanding play from goalie Aaron Oakley, and they boast an experienced forward corps, but it’s the youthful blueline brigade that’s been most pleasing to Cowden. Despite missing key contributors Brett Kolins and Austin Edwards to injury, the callow crew has performed beyond expectation.

“They’re the ones who are really stepping up,” Cowden said. “They’ve been a pleasant surprise.”

• The Pilots will look to extend their winning streak to six games tonight (Friday, Oct. 5) as they host the North Delta Devils at MSA Arena. Opening faceoff is at 7:30 p.m.

Just Posted

Abbotsford company among 500 fastest growing in Canada

Valley Carriers keeps spot on Growth 500 list, but drops from 398 last year to 408 this year

Gill said release containing favouritism allegations was ‘booboo’: Braun

Mayor says subsequent statements by mayoral foe cast doubt on wish for ‘nice, honest contest’

Abbotsford committee documenting history of Philip Sheffield school

Members say the school’s history is a reflection of how its surrounding communities have changed over years

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants earn a 3-1 victory over Everett in season-opener in Langley

Langley’s major junior hockey team opened the season at home with a victory over the Silvertips.

Abbotsford Friday Night Lights

Recaps of all three senior varsity football team games

Snowbird RV Show and Sale event in Abbotsford

Two days remain of the four-day show, open until 9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Remainder of Vancouver Whitecaps season filled with ‘must-win’ games: coach

With Vancouver currently sitting four points out of a post-season spot, each contest is crucial

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

B.C. nanny charged with sex abuse of 3 children

Saanich Police seek potential victims of Johnathon Lee Robichaud from Central Saanich

‘I’m no quitter’ on climate change issues, McKenna says at G7 ministers meeting

David Suzuki says if McKenna believes what she’s saying, she too should quit

Free vet clinic caters to pets of homeless, low income owners in Lower Mainland

The first such clinic in Langley will take place later this month.

VIDEO: Inside an eerily empty mall in Canada

Only nine of 517 retail spaces are open for business as the grand opening postponed to next year

Most Read