Power play explodes as Pilots win Keystone Cup opener

Riley Lamb was a lion for the Abbotsford Pilots on Thursday, scoring a hat trick to help his team rally for a 7-4 victory over Thunder Bay.

Riley Lamb was a lion for the Abbotsford Pilots on Thursday, scoring a hat trick to help his team rally for a 7-4 victory over the Thunder Bay Northern Hawks at the Keystone Cup tournament in Saskatoon.

The Ontario representatives built a 3-1 lead through two periods against Abbotsford, in the first round-robin game of the Western Canadian junior B hockey championship for both teams.

But the Pilots’ power play went ballistic in the final frame. The Northern Hawks took four minor penalties, and Abbotsford scored on each man-advantage opportunity. Two of those goals came off the stick of Lamb, who had gotten the Pilots on the board in the second period, also on the power play. The other two came courtesy of Justin Dorey.

Thunder Bay’s Mike Mapledoram scored with 4:29 remaining to cut the Pilots’ lead to 5-4, but Abby’s Luke Venema replied just 25 seconds later to restore the two-goal edge. Colton Cowden rounded out the scoring with an empty-net goal.

The Pilots finished a sizzling 5-for-10 on the power play, while the Northern Hawks went just 1-for-4. Aaron Oakley picked up the win between the pipes, stopping 16 of 20 shots.

The Pilots (1-0-0) play twice on Friday. They take on the Manitoba champion Arborg Ice Dawgs (1-1-0) in the morning at 9 a.m. local time, and play the host Saskatoon Royals (0-1-1) at 8 p.m.

The teams with the top two records in the round robin advance to the final on Sunday afternoon.

The Pilots won the B.C. title last Sunday with a thrilling double-overtime victory over the Victoria Cougars in the Cyclone Taylor Cup final.