The Abbotsford Pilots finishing first in the Pacific Junior Hockey League's Harold Brittain Conference isn't a forgone conclusion, just yet.
The second place Aldergrove Kodiaks aren't about to go away.
The Kodiaks, winners of 11 of their past 13 games, added two more victories to their totals last week. Wins over Port Moody and Mission City have closed the Kodiaks' gap to within nine points of the Pilots.
Aldergrove possesses a 22-12-01 record with nine games to go in their regular season.
But the Pilots are on a roll of their own, with five consecutive victories. They sport an impressive 26-8-0-2 mark.
Kodiaks' head coach Ron Johnson realizes his team will need a "clean slate" the rest of the way in order to have any hope of overtaking the Pilots for top spot.
Defence has been the key for the Kodiaks during their recent spate of wins. They've only allowed eight goals in their last six contest.
Johnson's biggest concern is offence as the Kodiaks gear up for the post-season. During that same six-game stretch, the Kodiaks have scored 14 goals, an average of a little more than two per contest.
"You have to play defensively sharp all the time when you're winning 2-1 or 3-2," Johnson said. "Our defensive play wasn't very stellar against the [North Vancouver] Wolf Pack [a 4-1 setback on Jan.
12] and we lost. When you're winning games 4-1, 5-1, or 6-1 you're happy."
On a bright note, the Kodiaks have been nearly unbeatable so far in 2013.
"Pretty well to a man, everybody's been playing better," Johnson said. "More of the kids are buying into what we're trying to do." But if the local junior Bs want to make any noise down the stretch and into the playoffs, they need to figure out a way to manufacture more goals, Johnson said.
"I have to admit, I'm disappointed about our offensive production," Johnson said.
"We've had countless opportunities to score but we haven't been doing that. It's been frustrating to say the least."
The Kodiaks have the depth to make an impact offensively, in Johnson's opinion. While their top scorer, Stephen Ryan, stands 13th among the league leaders in points, the team has eight players with 20 points or more.
And they have the top scoring blue-liner in the league in Stefan Gonzales, who has recorded 10 goals and 31 points in 33 games. "Our guys can score goals, we have to come prepared to do that, that's all," he said.
KODIAKS 3, MISSION CITY OUTLAWS 1
A goal from affiliate Grant Iles 8: 19 into the third period snapped a 1-1 tie and stood up as the game winner as the Kodiaks clipped the Outlaws by a pair.
With Mission goaltender Jared Knott pulled for an extra attacker, Gonzales added an insurance goal into the empty net with 50 seconds remaining in regulation time.
The Kodiaks' Adam Callegari opened the scoring with a power-play goal with 2: 59 to go in the first period.
Despite being outshot 12-3 in the second period, the Outlaws scored the only goal of the frame, when Eddie Lalonde put a puck past Kodiaks' goaltender Cole MacInnes at the 6: 13 mark.
KODIAKS 5, PORT MOODY PANTHERS 2
The Kodiaks handed the worst team in the PJHL its 15th consecutive loss Wednesday at Aldergrove Arena.
The Panthers dropped to 5-280-1 with the setback.
Port Moody actually led at one point, up 2-1 midway through the first period, before the Kodiaks came back to tie the game and then take the lead on goals from Gonzales and Ryan Veillet.
After a scoreless second period, the Kodiaks added insurance when Spencer McHaffie scored 1: 24 into the third period, followed by a goal from Tyson Solotki at the 4: 57 mark.
Callegari opened the scoring for the Kodiaks, before the Panthers responded with goals from affiliate Nolan Riebalkin and Matthew Tilton.
The Kodiaks outshot the visitors 50-28 and while he let in five goals, Panthers goaltender Brenden Sharp played solidly in making 45 saves.