Short-staffed Pilots win five straight

The Abbotsford Pilots won 4-2 Friday over the Ridge Meadows Flames,their fifth consecutive win.

Abby’s Joel Balzer crashes the net during Friday’s 4-2 victory over the Ridge Meadows Flames.

Abby’s Joel Balzer crashes the net during Friday’s 4-2 victory over the Ridge Meadows Flames.

The Abby Pilots are currently riding a five-game winning streak. In those five games they’ve scored 23 goals, and catapulted themselves into second position in the Harold Brittain conference of the PJHL

They’ve accomplished this despite missing four of their top six forwards to injuries and suspensions, and being forced to play most games with only three offensive lines. Secondary scoring has become the Pilots’ saviour, not to take pressure off the top line, but because the top line is watching from the stands.

On Friday Abby made its latest conquest with a commanding 4-2 victory over the Ridge Meadow Flames. The Pilots grabbed a 3-1 lead in the first period and never gave their opponents a chance to recover momentum. Their defence, a problem for the Pilots earlier in the season, played almost immaculately in the win.

The victory over the Flames was chocolate sauce on the ice cream of Thursday night’s win over the conference-leading Langley Knights. Back-to-back wins from a team as short-handed as the Pilots aren’t common, and neither are the numbers being produced by the players. On Friday, Abby forward Cole Methorst stacked up four points (one goal and three assists) and was named the first star of the game.

“I had his brother on our team,” Pilots coach Jim Cowden said of Methorst, “and this summer I said ‘you know what, let’s get the other brother!’ … He started out slow in the first month and a half, but now over the last two or three weeks he’s stepped it up big time … very happy with him.”

Cowden’s son, Colten, has spent the last five games suspended for his part in an on-ice ruckus with the North Vancouver Wolf Pack on Nov. 1. While coach Cowden says his team wasn’t look for a fight against Vancouver, the altercation galvanized his squad.

“Ever since that game we’ve stuck together and gone on this streak. We’ve won our last six out of seven,” he said.

Cowden knew his team would be forced closer “because they believed in each other, supported one another, and when things like that happen it’s like a pack of wolves. Not that I condone it because we’re not a dirty hockey team.”

The Pilots have come a long way through the first three months of the season, clawing their way up the ranks to become serious contenders for the top spot in the conference.

The team will try to keep its momentum into Friday’s rematch with the Knights in another opportunity to make up points on the one team still above Abby in the standings.

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