BY: BEN LYPKA, MISSION CITY RECORD
The Mission City Outlaws brought their brooms to Abbotsford on Friday.
The Outlaws started off game four strong, and hung on for the 5-4 win to sweep the Pilots in four games on Friday in Abbotsford.
Mission got started early, as Kolby Steen got the Outlaws on the board just 26 seconds into the game. Mackenzie Wight made it 2-0 about two minutes later. Abbotsford made it a one goal game, but Brody Dyck replied moments later to make it 3-1. The Pilots added a late goal to make it 3-2 after the first.
The Outlaws were first again to strike in the second, with Noah Wiebe putting Mission back up by two. The Pilots added another late goal to make it 4-3 after two.
Abbotsford tied the game up again early into the third, but it was Mission’s Ryan Sharma who sealed the deal with the game winning goal at 3:59. The Outlaws hung on the rest of the way for the 5-4 win.
Mission head coach Brad Veitch said it was an extremely close sweep, with three one-goal games, and two that went to overtime.
“It was very close except for game two,” he said. “They’re a very good team, with a ton of speed. We had to play some very good hockey to beat them.”
Veitch said some of the unsung heroes have stepped up for the Outlaws during this playoff run.
“The foot soldiers, the guys that don’t get the glory have made a big difference for us,” he said. “They’ve helped make it possible for us to put the puck in the net, and if you look at our scoring in the playoffs it’s been really balanced.”
He said the team has been playing with intensity since falling behind 3-0 to the Ridge Meadows Flames in round one.
“I think we stopped feeling sorry for ourselves after that game,” he said. “It felt like we couldn’t catch a break early in that series and then we finally got some bounces and turned it around. These guys have gone on multiple winning streaks during the season, so to win eight straight in the playoffs is impressive. Once they get that winning feeling they seem to get really confident.”
Veitch pointed to game one of the series against the Pilots as a turning point. Abbotsford was leading late in the third period, but Mission tied the game up late, and went on to win in overtime.
“That was huge for us,” he said. “Abbotsford had to win that one because the next two were in our rink and we’ve been pretty good at home all year.”
He added that the Pilots were also depleted up front, and missing key offensive players as the series wore on.
Next up for the Outlaws is the Pacific Junior Hockey League championship series. It’s the second straight year Mission has qualified for the series, after losing to the North Vancouver Wolfpack last year.
Mission will get home ice advantage this year, and will match up against the winner of the Delta Ice Hawks versus Grandview Steelers series. Veitch said his team needs to play better defence if they want to advance.
“They’re both very good defensive teams and we have to change our focus a little bit,” he said. “We have to tighten up defensively but I think we’re confident.”
Details for the PJHL final have yet to be determined, but it’s expected to begin next weekend. Read the Mission City Record online for continued coverage of the Outlaws.