The Abbotsford Pilots got a huge 6-4 win over the Ridge Meadows Flames in game three of their best-of-seven Pacific Junior Hockey League playoff series.
Faced with the prospect of going down 3-0, the Pilots brought their best game to open Wednesday night’s contest at Cam Neely Arena in Maple Ridge.
“They knew what was at stake for them. They came out and played it like it was a game seven,” said Flames coach Bayne Ryshak.
Abby built up a 5-0 lead by the midpoint of the game, and then cruised to a win.
“We showed some resiliency in the third period,” said Ryshak. “It’s something to build on.”
Liam Evenson had a goal and two helpers for the Flames, who were badly outshot 37-18. Defenceman Ryan Wellburn had a goal and an assist, and Taylor Seganfreddo and Joshua Gibbons both scored.
Pilot Baylee Wright, who led the regular season in scoring, assisted on four of the Abbotsford markers.
Flames goaltender Paul Tucek played 34 minutes and allowed five goals on 22 shots. He was replaced by Cooper Anderson, who turned aside 14 of the 15 shots he faced.
The Flames roster has been decimated by injuries, with seven players out. Star sniper Halen Cordoni was injured on Saturday, and the injury list also includes Ian MacDonald, Logan Hunter, Daniel Chifan, Cameron Kovesdi, Nicolas Georgeopolous and Brendan Murphy.
Cordoni has been virtually a goal-a-game player this season, with 32 goals and 47 points in 34 games. He also had five goals and 12 points in seven playoff games.
“It’s obviously disappointing, but you can’t dwell on it,” said Ryshak.
He said too many Pilots were targeting the head with their hits, and the Pilots were committing so many infractions the referees couldn’t call everything.
The Flames power play went one-for-four on Wednesday, while the Pilots had two power plays and scored on neither.
“We’re going to play hard too,” said Ryshak. “It’s playoff hockey, and it’s fun.”
The injuries have meant two Maple Ridge affiliate players in Dylan Ford and Devon Taylor were in the lineup on Wednesday.
Game four of the series will be played Friday at MSA Arena in Abbotsford. Game five will return to Maple Ridge on Saturday, at 7:30 p.m. at Planet Ice.