The Abbotsford Pilots played four close games, outshot their opponent in two of them, but still lost the Pacific International Junior Hockey League best-of-seven championship series in a sweep.
“We played very well. We could have won any one of those games,” said coach Jim Cowden. “We didn’t get the breaks you need.”
The Richmond Sockeyes ended the series with a 4-2 win on Tuesday night at the Abbotsford Recreation Centre.
Cowden pointed out that all four games were one-goal affairs, with two empty netters adding to the Sockeyes’ differential.
The Pilots were without leading scorer Riley Lamb, a sniper who finished third in PIJHL scoring with 62 points. He hurt his shoulder in the first period of Game 3, and never got back into the series.
Abbotsford still managed to outshoot Richmond 43-31 in the fourth game, but only Brett Kolins and Kevin Lourens managed to bulge the twine.
“It just was not meant to be,” said Cowden.
Monday in Richmond the Pilots lost 4-2. Jarrett Martin and minor hockey affiliate player Devon Toews scored for Abbotsford.
The Pilots should return many of the core players who led the team to a 26-14-6 record and the top spot in the Harold Brittain Conference.
“We’re going to be strong next year,” predicted Cowden, who said he too will be back for the next campaign.
The Pilots will host the Cyclone Taylor Cup, the provincial Junior B championship tournament, and the coach wants the Pilots to shine as more than just the host.
“We’re going to build for that, and our goal is to win everything,” he said.
He expects to have Lamb back, as well as Lourens, who was 11th in league scoring with 49 points, including an impressive 28 goals. Adam Rossi, Chris Vinette, Travis Grewal, Brandon Daase and others will give the Pilots an impressive, veteran lineup.
“We had a good year, and you couldn’t ask for a better bunch of kids,” said Cowden. “We’ll do our wind-up, and the start rebuilding.”