The Mission Outlaws defeated the Abbotsford Pilots 5-3 on the weekend. The win moves Mission into a third-place tie with Ridge Meadows.

The Mission Outlaws defeated the Abbotsford Pilots 5-3 on the weekend. The win moves Mission into a third-place tie with Ridge Meadows.

Outlaws heating up just in time for playoffs

Mission has earned at least one point in eight straight games, now tied for third place.

Ben Lypka

Abbotsford News

The Mission City Outlaws continue to heat up at the perfect time.

They have now picked up at least a point in eight straight games, posting six wins and two overtime losses to make a push for third place in the Harold Brittain conference.

Mission continued that trend, by posting a 5-3 win over the Abbotsford Pilots on Friday and a 7-3 victory over the Port Moody Panthers on Saturday.

The Outlaws game on Friday against the Pilots saw the two teams’ rivalry amp up, with a total of 118 penalty minutes assessed in the third period alone.

Mitchell Plevy opened the scoring for Abbotsford at 3:54 of the first, but Mission’s Ryan Sharma evened the game five minutes later.

The Outlaws took over the game in the second period, with Nicolas Bizzutto and Sharma scoring about three minutes apart to give Mission a two-goal lead after two.

Abbotsford’s Carter Shannon made it a one-goal game at 8:25 of the third period, but 32 seconds later Michael Sande put the Outlaws back up by two. Noah Wiebe pulled the Pilots back to within one at 10:58, but that was as close as Abbotsford would get. Mission’s Sammy Zeinab added a late goal to make it a 5-3 final.

Mission’s power play was effective, going two for eight, and the Outlaws also killed all six chances they were shorthanded. Mission goalie Matthew Trulsen made 37 saves for the win.

Outlaws assistant coach Nick Thompson said it was a big win for the team.

“Our leaders stepped up and had good games tonight,” he said. “Sharma (led) the way with five points. Trulsen continued his strong play and really held us in there at times when we were flat and it was nice to see the power play get two goals after a cold stretch. I think tonight typified Outlaws hockey.”

Mission then hosted the Panthers on Saturday and extended their home winning streak to seven games with a 7-3 win.

The Outlaws took over the game early, scoring four answered goals in the first period, but the Panthers bit back with two to close out the first. Bizzutto (two), Waniek and Zeinab all tallied for Mission.

It was more of the same in the second period, as Waniek and Bizzutto each added another. The teams traded goals in the third, with Waniek joining Bizzutto in the hat trick club on Saturday.

The power play was again hot, connecting on two of five chances. Mission again killed all six chances they played a man down. Trulsen stopped 37 shots to record his 10th win of the season.

Outlaws head coach Brad Veitch said his two hat trick scorers turned it on.

“We didn’t come out very well, but we were able to bury our opportunities,” he said. “It was nice to see Jackson get hot. And the fact that Nic is still an 18-year-old and produced like that tonight was great.”

Veitch said that Trulsen was again solid in net, and has been a big difference maker in the team’s turnaround.

“This was the first time we have kind of rode one guy, and Matt has dictated that,” he said. “His last seven starts his save percentage has been well above .900. He’s been winning and giving the guys lots of confidence.”

Mission has now climbed into a tie for third place in the conference with the Ridge Meadows Flames.

Both teams have 40 points, but the Flames do have one game in hand.

The Outlaws have a chance to leapfrog the Flames tonight (Friday) when they travel to Maple Ridge for a crucial game.

The Outlaws then host the Delta Ice Hawks at the Mission Leisure Centre on Saturday at 6:45 p.m.

If Mission finishes third, they will play the Pilots. A fourth-place finish would match them up with Aldergrove.