Aldergrove Kodiaks persevere to oust Abbotsford Pilots

The Aldergrove Kodiaks managed to outlast the Abbotsford Pilots in the first round of the Pacific Junior Hockey League playoffs.

The Kodiaks held a 3-1 lead in games on the Pilots in their best-of-seven Harold Brittain Conference semifinal series, before Abbotsford stormed back to win the next two contests.

This forced a seventh and deciding game Monday at Aldergrove Arena.

“We coughed up the lead [in games], but credit to them, they made it very difficult for us,” Kodiaks head coach Brad Rihela said.

Sparked by a partisan crowd that filled Aldergrove Arena to watch game seven, the Kodiaks scored once in the first period and three more times in the middle frame to take an insurmountable 4-0 lead into the third period.

The Pilots scored the lone goal of the third period to round out the game’s scoring in a 4-1 Kodiaks win.

“We had an 8:30 p.m. start time and the rink was packed. It was outstanding,” Rihela said. “I can’t say enough about our fans and how much it means to our players. The boys were so fired up to see that many people there.”

In a balanced attack, four players scored for the Kodiaks during the series clincher.

Goal-scorers for the Kodiaks were Cameron Davitt with a power play marker 10:02 after the opening puck drop, Spencer McHaffie at the 11:28 mark of the second period (during another Aldergrove man advantage), Davin Padgham with 3:46 to go in the middle frame, and Scott McHaffie, who tallied a backbreaking goal with just nine seconds to go before the second intermission.

Rihela said that while goaltender Ben Giesbrecht had an oustanding game on Monday, making 32 saves, he was stellar throughout the series.

He added that the Kodiaks’ “execution was on point,” in game seven.

Next up for the Kodiaks, who are looking to defend their PJHL playoff title, is the Mission City Outlaws, who dispatched the Langley Knights in six games in the other Harold Brittain best-of-seven semifinal.

The Outlaws erased a 2-0 lead in games to win their series against the Knights.

The Knights had a day’s rest before they resume their playoffs tonight (Wednesday, March 4) against the Outlaws. Game time is 7:15 p.m.

“They’re a team that is very dangerous,” Rihela said, regarding the Outlaws. “They’re led by an Aldergrove guy, [19-year-old forward Bryce] Pisiak and they score a lot of goals. They’re dangerous off the rush. We will have to be playing our best to beat these guys.”

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