The Abbotsford Pilots overcame a shaky second period to defeat the Aldergrove Kodiaks 6-4 Friday night, forcing Game 7 this week.
The Pilots built a 3-0 first-period lead but the Kodiaks tied it heading into the second intermission. However, the Pilots scored three times in the third to clinch the victory, tying the best-of-seven Pacific Junior Hockey League series 3-3.
“We went up three, they came and battled back to tie it, but we regrouped,” said Pilots head coach Jim Cowden. “If you would have said we’d be in that situation, down 3-1 [in the series] and tied going into the third, I’d take it.”
Brady Lawlor had two goals, while Mitch Plevy, Hayden Guilderson, Arshdeep Shergill, and Devon Becker also tallied.
Jacob Crawford backstopped the Pilots to the win, rebounding from a rocky second period to play exceptional in the third with the series on the line. His coach is sure that’s the version of the netminder they’ll get for Game 7.
“He’ll be fine, he’s good to go,” said Cowden. “We’re looking forward to it.”
Plevy, Wednesday night’s overtime hero, opened the scoring at 3:20, taking a feed from Kolten Greive.
Plevy assisted on Lawlor’s first of the game at 7:28, throwing a puck on net, leaving the captain to bury the puck.
After a pair of scoring chances by the Kodiaks, including a two-on-one rush, Guilderson made it 3-0. Cole Methorst sent a shot-pass up to Alex Methorst, who just grazed it with his stick. The change-up caused Ben Giesbrecht to give up a big rebound for Guilderson at 9:30.
The Kodiaks scored three times in a 10-minute span in the second frame to tie the game.
First Nolan Wallinger’s bad-angle shot squeaked through Crawford’s pads at 5:23.
Quinncy Leroux scored a power-play goal at 12:23, finding a way through a screen.
Then at 15:24 Evan Cusmano tied the game with an innocent looking wrist shot from the point that made it over Crawford’s arm.
Crawford was solid after that, however, stopping Spencer McHaffie after a giveaway and then robbed Aaron Markin in close with a slick glove save.
Shergill broke the tie at 12:37, stealing a puck at centre ice, skating just across the blue line, and hammering the puck short side on Giesbrecht for his second of the post season, after scoring just twice all regular season.
Did Cowden have a hunch that the defenceman would unleash a slapper from that spot?
“Yeah, pretty much,” said Cowden with a grin.
Devon Becker scored a power-play goal about a minute later, stopping a clearing attempt at the blue line and wristing a shot through traffic.
Lawlor scored an empty net goal, while shorthanded, at 18:39 to make it a three-goal lead.
Matt Oliver would score for Kodiaks with 45 seconds remaining, grabbing a puck out of the air to give himself a breakaway, but it was not enough for the visitors.
“The guys battled in the third period and were disciplined,” said Cowden. “We definitely earned that.”
The Pilots will be forced to make a couple lineup decisions for that game. Colton Cowden returns from a three-game suspension.
“We’ll take a look at that,” said Cowden. “I’ll have (affiliate player Brett) Clayton back too, so we’ll see what we’re going to do.”