Mitchell Plevy potted the clutch winner at 3:37 of the second overtime to seal the win for Abbotsford, and put the Pilots up 3-0 in the best-of-seven Pacific Junior Hockey League series.
But, just like every game in the series so far, it wasn’t easy for the Pilots.
The Kodiaks came out strong in the first period, building up a 2-0 lead, and the Pilots knew they were in for a long night, said captain Joel Balzer.
“The mood was down after the first period and I think guys were frustrated with themselves,” he said. “It wasn’t like we had a really bad period but we just made to really bad plays and they capitalized.”
“They came at us hard,” said Pilots head coach Jim Cowden. “They’re a good team, and we knew we had to battle to win. They were up on us 2-0, but at the end of the day I think we’re a good enough club, and we just had to relax and not force things. We did a better job of that in the second.”
The Pilots turned it on the second, dominating play and scoring three unanswered goals. Balzer got the Pilots on the board at 10:30, and Philip Gauthier tied the game up, with 5:53 left in the second. Plevy gave the Pilots the 3-2 lead late in the second to give Abbotsford its first lead.
“Guys started skating and moving the puck in the second,” Balzer said. “Guys were playing as individuals in the first, but once we start moving the puck, I think we have enough speed on this team to make guys look like pylons out there.”
Forward Francis Bamford scored a power play goal to make it 4-2 in the third, but the Kodiaks quickly answered back to make it 4-3. Sean Olson added another power play goal to make it 5-3, but the Kodiaks refused to give up. They scored two goals in the final two minutes to send the game to overtime.
Nothing was settled in the first 10 minute period, and then Plevy sealed the deal in the second extra frame.
Cowden said he likes being up 3-0, but noted that the Kodiaks had a 3-1 lead on the Pilots last year, only to have the Pilots come back and force a seventh game.
“They’re a good hockey club, we have our work cut out for us,” he said.
Balzer said he likes the way he and his teammates look early into the Pacific Junior Hockey League playoffs.
“I’m feeling really confident about our guys,” he said. “But we need to start off our games better. We came out flat at the start of the last two games and they capitalized. If we come out hard on Sunday, we should end some [junior] careers.”
Game four of the series occurs in Aldergrove at 7:30 p.m. If the Pilots win, they advance to round two of the playoffs. Game five, if necessary, takes place in Abbotsford on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.