Freshman forward plays key role in Kodiaks wins

Yet another offensive weapon has emerged to augment the Aldergrove Kodiaks’ already lethal arsenal.

Spencer Unger scored five times in the Kodiaks’ last two outings, nearly doubling his season total.

Unger tallied four goals in the Kodiaks’ 8-1 rout of visiting the Mission City Outlaws last Wednesday at Aldergrove Arena.

He followed that performance up by notching the game-winning goal against the rival Abbotsford Pilots Friday at Abbotsford’s MSA Arena.

Unger’s powerplay marker with 5:04 to go in regulation snapped a 4-4 tie. The goal came with Abbotsford’s Ryan Parmar serving a two-minute penalty for roughing.

An 18-year-old rookie from Surrey, Unger now has 12 goals and 23 points in 29 games with the Pacific Junior Hockey League Harold Brittain Conference-leading Kodiaks, who improved to a league best 26-5-2-1 with the two victories.

“Maybe the four goals are surprising, but the fact that he’s producing, not in the slightest,” Kodiaks head coach Brad Rihela said, when asked if he was taken aback by Unger’s recent ability to find the net. “He’s made an effort to improve every game, and he’s getting some rewards for it.”

The Kodiaks are by far the highest scoring team in the PJHL, scoring 170 goals in 34 games, an average of five goals per contest.

On Friday, the Kodiaks and Harold Brittain second-place Pilots traded goals throughout the contest.

After a scoreless opening frame, the Pilots took a 2-1 lead in the second period.

In the third period, the Kodiaks jumped ahead 4-3 on a goal from Jeremy Lagler before Abbotsford’s Joe Balzer tied the game at the 9:44 mark.

Lagler scored a pair of third period goals for the Kodiaks.

Scott McHaffie (also in the third period) and Jacob Dunlop (with Aldergrove’s first goal of the game in the second frame) also scored for the Kodiaks.

The winner from Unger was assisted by Stephen Ryan, who leads all PJHL point-getters with 31 goals and 66 points.

The teams fired 35 shots apiece on goal.

Rihela said both teams battled to the end.

“They [the Pilots] are a good team, no question about that,” Rihela said. “It was a tight game, and there wasn’t any nonsense after the whistle. It was a well-played game by both teams, and we were fortunate to dig in enough to get the two points.”

Tight games like the one on Friday will only help the Kodiaks in the future, their head coach said, adding “Our goal from the start of the year is to progress every game and peak at the right time. In my opinion, we getting better and mentally, this was a big win for us.”

Kodiaks 8, Mission City Outlaws 1

Late opening-frame goals Unger and Spencer McHaffie put Aldergrove ahead 2-0 heading into the first intermission.

Unger scored goals 2:06 apart early in the second period to make it 4-0.

After that, powerplay markers from Ryan and Elvis Jansons gave the home team a six-goal cushion heading into the third.

The Outlaws’ Nolan Riebalkin scored his team’s lone goal of the night 3:07 into the final frame.

The Kodiaks didn’t let up, tallying the final two goals off the sticks of Adam Callegari on a powerplay at the 9:46 mark, and Unger’s fourth of the night with 5:23 remaining in regulation time.

The Kodiaks outshot the Outlaws 54-33 overall.

ICE CHIPS: Next up for the Kodiaks is a game against the visiting North Vancouver Wolf Pack tomorrow night (Jan. 15) at Aldergrove Arena. Game time is 7:15 p.m.

The Wolf Pack will likely be a tough out.

They are second in the PJHL’s Tom Shaw Conference with a 23-10-1-1 record, second behind the sizzing Richmond Sockeyes (24-4-3-2), who have won 13 straight games.

It will be “Harry Hunt Appreciation Night” in honour of the well-respected Aldergrove newspaper photographer, whose family is going through some hard times, of late.

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