Veteran forward Brady Lawlor (20) will serve as captain of the Abbotsford Pilots this season. The local junior B hockey club hosts its home opener tonight vs. the Delta Ice Hawks (7:30 p.m.

Veteran forward Brady Lawlor (20) will serve as captain of the Abbotsford Pilots this season. The local junior B hockey club hosts its home opener tonight vs. the Delta Ice Hawks (7:30 p.m.

Pilots to host home opener on Friday

Abbotsford's junior B hockey club features a lot of new faces, but figure to be in the mix come playoff time.

Jim Cowden approaches building projects with the enthusiasm of a youngster opening a new box of Lego, and that’s a great thing for the Abbotsford Pilots.

This season, perhaps more than any other in recent memory, the local junior B hockey club is undergoing an extreme roster makeover.

Seven of the Pilots’ top 10 scorers from last season’s team which finished second at the Western Canadian Championship, and both of their goalies, are departed – either graduating from junior eligibility or moving on to higher levels of hockey.

Cowden, the Pilots’ longtime head coach, has a full complement of forwards, but just five defencemen and one goalie signed as the team embarks on the Pacific Junior Hockey League regular season this week.

But he’s OK with that, preferring to wait until Western Hockey League and junior A teams make their cuts and filling out his roster at that point.

And at the end of the day, it’s hard to imagine the Pilots won’t be where they always seem to be in the spring – contending for the PJHL title.

“We never rebuild, we just retool,” Cowden said.

“I’m not going to panic – I’ll start with one goalie, I don’t want to have to cut a kid two weeks later. I have a couple things in the fire, but you’ve got to wait until players come down from junior A and the WHL.

“We’ll be OK at the end of the day.”

The 2014-15 edition of the Pilots will be led by veteran forward Brady Lawlor, who will wear the captain’s C. He boasts a rare ability to generate offence (17 goals and 16 assists in 42 games last season) and play with a truculent edge (165 penalty minutes, third-most in the PJHL).

“He’s got good leadership, and he took a little bit of it on last year,” Cowden said. “He’s a competitor, and he’s vocal and good in the dressing room.”

Lawlor will be joined up front by the likes of returnees Kolten Grieve (21 goals, 31 assists for 52 points last season) and Colton Cowden (12-10-22), and new acquisitions Devan Vander Wyk and Mitchell Plevy, both of whom played junior A last year.

Kellan Lavallee and Joel Balzer anchor the defence, while Jacob Crawford is the man in the crease.

Crawford, who played for the Port Moody Panthers last season, was outstanding on Wednesday as the Pilots opened the regular season with a 3-2 overtime win on the road over the defending league champion Aldergrove Kodiaks. He made 51 saves en route to first star honours, with Devon Becker notching the OT winner.

“We’re very happy with him,” Cowden said of Crawford. “His technique is good, he’s very quick, he tracks the puck well.”

The Pilots’ home opener is tonight against the Delta Ice Hawks (7:30 p.m., MSA Arena).

Just Posted

Chilliwack potter Cathy Terepocki (left) and Indigenous enhancement teachers Val Tosoff (striped top) and Christine Seymour (fuchsia coat), along with students at Vedder middle school, look at some of the 500-plus pinch pots on Thursday, June 10 made by the kids to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack students make hundreds of tiny clay pots in honour of 215 Indigenous children

‘I think the healing process has begun,’ says teacher about Vedder middle school project

A program of the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation enables patients to thank their health-care workers.
Fraser Valley program enables patients to say thanks to their health-care workers

Philip Harris Grateful Patient Program offered through health care foundation

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Webinar looks at sexual abuse prevention among adolescents

Vancouver/Fraser Valley CoSA hosts free online session on June 15

Emergency services were on the scene of an apparent stabbing Friday afternoon (June 11) in the 2400 block of Countess Street in Abbotsford. (Photo: Kaytlin Harrison)
Two suspects arrested after apparent stabbing in Abbotsford

Incident occurs Friday afternoon in 2400 block of Countess Street

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month in Canada. (ADOBE STOCK IMAGE)
Shining a light on brain injury in Canada

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read