The Abbotsford Pilots seem to be heading into the Christmas break on a role, after edging the Delta Ice Hawks 4-3 Tuesday night.
The Pilots, who lost three straight to begin December, have now won consecutive games. There’s just one game left in 2014 for the Pacific Junior Hockey League squad, when they host the Richmond Sockeyes Friday.
Brady Lawlor notched two power play goals in the victory. Colton Cowden had a goal and an assist while Cole Methorst also scored for the visiting Pilots.
Jacob Crawford made 21 saves in the victory, giving him 12 wins on the year, just one behind the league leaders.
The Pilots (15-12-0-2) moved into a tie with the Langley Knights for first place in the Harold Brittain Conference, though the Aldergrove Kodiaks are just two points back.
The opening 20 minutes were fairly even, ending with the teams square at two apiece.
Then, at 19:31 of the second frame Abbotsford regained the lead when Methorst scored his eighth of the year, with Alexander Methorst and Hayden Guilderson picking up the assists.
“It was just hard work by those two,” said Pilots’ head coach Jim Cowden. “Guilderson got him the puck and he had a nice low, hard shot. The goalie didn’t have much chance, just bang, out of the corner and bang, right into the net.”
The visitors outshot the Ice Hawks 10-4 in the middle frame, so getting that late goal was huge.
“We played well the whole period,” said Cowden. “We limited them to four shots. So it’s nice to get a reward.”
However, just 51 seconds into the third period Delta knotted the game 3-3.
“In the third we got in a bit of penalty trouble,” said Cowden. “They didn’t score on one of those but did get early power plays.”
The Pilots had a trio of late power plays of their own, and capitalized with 62 seconds remaining, when the team’s captain netted his 12th of the season.
“Kolton Grieve got the puck on the half-wall and Lawler got open in the high slot,” said Cowden. “He passed it to [Lawlor] and had a nice shot, top corner.”
After missing almost a month of action, Lawlor now had three goals and one assist in three games.
“He’s a big physical player, big, strong, and he’s got some finesse to his game and even some grit,” said Cowden. “He adds a lot to our team and makes some of the smaller guys play bigger.”
In the 2014 finale the only change will be in goal, where Alex Kong will get a rare start in place of Crawford, who is amongst the league leaders in minutes played.
“Then we’ll get healthy and hopefully get a couple defencemen back,” said Cowden. Alexander Methorst was playing his first game in 32 days, and the team is still without Trent Huitema and Devon Beckers.