Kolten Grieve of the Abbotsford Pilots looks for open ice against the close checking of Jake Fletcher of the Delta Ice Hawks. The Ice Hawks spoiled the Pilots’ home opener

Kolten Grieve of the Abbotsford Pilots looks for open ice against the close checking of Jake Fletcher of the Delta Ice Hawks. The Ice Hawks spoiled the Pilots’ home opener

Pilots work overtime, split first games of regular season

The Abbotsford Pilots made sure their fans got their money’s worth during the first week of PJHL regular season action.

The Abbotsford Pilots made sure their fans got their money’s worth during the first week of the Pacific Junior Hockey League regular season.

Both of the Pilots’ games last week went to overtime, with a 50/50 split in terms of results.

On Wednesday, the Pilots opened on the road vs. the defending PJHL champion Aldergrove Kodiaks, and despite being outshot 53-36, managed to steal a 3-2 OT victory.

Goalie Jacob Crawford was instrumental – his 51 saves earned him first star honours – and Devon Becker scored the winner in the extra session. Captain Brady Lawlor and Devan Vander Wyk added regulation-time tallies for Abbotsford.

On Friday, the Pilots hosted their home opener vs. the Delta Ice Hawks, and despite a better team-wide effort, sustained a 2-1 OT loss. Crawford was once again outstanding, making 36 saves, and Mark Ledlin notched a power-play goal in the second period for the hosts. But Delta’s Brent Chreptyk scored his second goal of the game with the man advantage at the 1:14 mark of OT.

“I thought it was to be expected,” Abby head coach Jim Cowden said, analyzing his team’s opening-week play. “We didn’t play overly great, because we hadn’t practiced together as a team before either of those first two games.”

Indeed, the Pilots made their last roster cuts on Tuesday evening, just prior to their regular-season opener.

The roster is still a work in progress – they’ve got just one goalie at this point, and didn’t dress a backup for either game last week. The good news is, that goalie is Crawford, and he’s been terrific thus far.

“He was just thrown into the fire,” Cowden said of Crawford, adding that he’s hopeful he’ll be able to land a second keeper at some point this week. “I had no idea he would be this good, but he’s been outstanding. He’s a nice kid, a focused kid, and he works extremely hard in practice.”

n The Pilots (1-0-1) visit the Langley Knights on Thursday (7:30 p.m., George Preston Recreation Centre), and host the Mission City Outlaws on Friday (7:30 p.m., MSA Arena).

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