Pilots snap losing streak with win over Mission Outlaws

Abbotsford junior hockey team notches 4-2 victory

The Abbotsford Pilots have snapped their recent losing streak, knocking off the Mission City Outlaws 4-2 Friday night.

The Pilots (14-12-1-2) jumped to an early 2-0 lead and cruised to victory in Pacific International Junior Hockey League action.

It was their first victory in four December contests after having a very successful month of November (7-1-1).

“We just needed to go out and work hard,” said Pilots’ head coach Jim Cowden. “We’re a little banged up on the back end but we picked up a defenceman so we could play with five. We’ve been playing with four defencemen the last three games. Back-to-back nights is tough on this squad.”

After losing Devon Becker and Trent Huitema to injury, Nolan Riebalkin suited up for the Pilots Friday after playing 12 games for Mission City this year.

With the win the Pilots temporarily moved ahead of the Aldergrove Kodiaks for second in the Harold Brittain Conference, though the latter won Saturday to draw even again.

Brady Lawlor, Mitchell Plevy, Cole Methorst, and Colton Cowden each scored for the Pilots. Kolten Grieve increased his team-leading point total to 33 with a three-assist performance.

Jacob Crawford stopped 35 shots, picking up his 11th win of the season, just two off the league mark.

“We used our speed and made sure not to give them any room,” said coach Cowden.

Lawlor opened the scoring just 67 seconds into the game, converting a feed from Plevy. Plevy then doubled the lead just two minutes and 32 seconds later, with the team captain Lawlor drawing the first assist.

The Outlaws got on the board with 12 seconds remaining in the first period, a point shot that found its way through a maze of legs.

Methorst restored the two-goal cushion at 8:18 of the second. Then Colton Cowden scored a power play marker at 10:36.

That’s when game began to get a bit chippy, with three fights breaking out – and Mission City being dealt the extra penalty for instigating for two of them.

“They had to play [that way] because they couldn’t keep up to our speed,” said coach Cowden. “They instigated all three of them. It’s pretty obvious. That’s the only way they thought they could win the hockey game. It still didn’t work for them so they should go back to the board to see what else they can do.”

Mission City did get another goal, with Bakshi Gill potting a rebound past Crawford at 10:43.

However, that’s as close as they’d come because the Port Moody-native kept the Outlaws at bay, including a big stop off David McGowan at the side of the net on a rebound opportunity. Crawford even got a little help from Methorst, who blocked a shot at the top of the crease late in the game.

The Pilots travel to Delta to take on the Ice Hawks Tuesday night, before hosting the Richmond Sockeyes Friday in their final game of 2014.

“We’ve been banged up all year, playing 15- and 16-year-old hockey players,” said Cowden. “It’s going to be nice just to get through the games, have a nice Christmas break, get healthy and take a run.”