Pilots win playoff opener

Mission goalie Lukas Simpson stymies Abbotsford’s Brett Kolins on the doorstep during playoff action on Tuesday at MSA Arena.

Heading into a first-round playoff series with the Mission Icebreakers, Abbotsford Pilots head coach Jim Cowden predicted his team would be in for a tough battle.That’s exactly how Game 1 played out on Tuesday evening at MSA Arena. The fourth-place Icebreakers gave the first-place Pilots everything they could handle, out-shooting the hosts 37-28. But Abby scored a trio of power play goals in the third period to earn a 3-2 victory.”The first series is always a tough one to win,” Cowden said. “The pressure’s all on us. If they win, it’s an upset. If we win, it’s just what’s supposed to happen.”Mission’s Matthew Genovese opened the scoring with a power play strike at 11:08 of the second period. The turning point came at 18:41 of the middle frame, as Brett Orser of the Icebreakers was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for hitting Abbotsford’s Brandon Daase from behind. A roughing penalty to Genovese early in the third compounded Mission’s predicament.The Pilots scored twice on the extended man advantage, with Jarrett Martin and Adam Rossi doing the damage. Kevin Lourens made it 3-1 later in the frame, and that insurance goal turned out to be huge, as Trevor Schmidt drew the Icebreakers back to within a goal.But that’s as close as they would get, as Pilots goalie Brad Anderson turned in a sparkling 35-save performance.Game 2 is set for Thursday at Mission Leisure Centre, and Game 3 is Friday at MSA Arena. Both games start at 7:30 p.m.

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