The Abbotsford Pilots blasted the Grandview Steelers 8-1 in exhibition action on Friday at MSA Arena, but head coach Jim Cowden was hardly impressed by the lopsided score.
The Pilots bench boss was quick to note that the Steelers’ roster was largely comprised of callow prospects, while the Abbotsford lineup included eight returning veterans.
At this stage, with the regular season still more than three weeks away, Cowden is more concerned with identifying which of the youngsters in training camp might be useful in the longer term.
“We don’t need a lot,” said Cowden, noting that the Pilots could have as many as 14 returnees from last year’s team, which went all the way to the Pacific International Junior Hockey League finals. “We’re just looking for a couple young guys to add some spark.”
In that respect, two prospective Pilots earned special plaudits from the coach on Friday. Cowden praised Dakota Schipper, a forward out of Chilliwack, for his willingness to be a physical presence in front of the net.
“Schipper’s a tough kid,” Cowden said. “He’s got to work on his skating, but he’s got a good shot, and he goes to the dirty areas.”
Roster spots are at a premium on what figures to be a deep and talented defensive corps, but Abbotsford rookie Austin Edwards impressed against Grandview.
“Edwards is a very smart player defensively,” Cowden said. “He moves the puck, and never seems to get himself out of position.”
• The Pilots host exhibition games at MSA Arena each of the next two Fridays. The Delta Ice Hawks are in town Sept. 2, and the North Vancouver Wolf Pack (formerly Squamish) visit on Sept. 9. Both games begin at 7 p.m.
• Four players from last year’s Pilots squad are currently trying out for junior A clubs. Adam Rossi and Terrence Limbert are in camp with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs; Brad Parker is trying to make the cut with the Chilliwack Chiefs; and Jarrett Martin is with the Powell River Kings.
• The Pilots’ PIJHL regular season opener is Friday, Sept. 23, when they host the North Delta Devils at 7:30 p.m.