Brad Parker played the hero for the Abbotsford Pilots on Tuesday evening, scoring at 8:51 of the second overtime to lift the hosts to a 3-2 victory over the Mission Icebreakers at MSA Arena.
Parker’s goal gave the Pilots a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven first round playoff series. They can finish off the pesky Icebreakers on Thursday at Mission Leisure Centre (8 p.m. start). Game 7, if necessary, would run Friday at 7:30 p.m. at MSA Arena.
As is often the case with OT winners, Parker’s goal wasn’t of the highlight reel variety. The Pilots winger swept around the net and tried a wrap-around, then tracked down his own rebound in the slot and put a seeing-eye shot through a maze of players that beat Icebreakers goalie Michael James Barr.
The Pilots, who finished first in the Pacific International Junior Hockey League’s Harold Brittain Conference, out-shot Mission 53-34. But they’re having a devil of a time dealing with the gritty fourth-place squad from across the Fraser River.
“Everything I said about them at the beginning of this series is basically coming about,” Pilots coach Jim Cowden said. “We have to match their work ethic, or they’ll beat us.
“It’s all about work ethic at this point, and who wants it. They definitely want it on their side. They’re working extremely hard, and they’ve got a pretty decent group over there.”
The Pilots took a 2-0 lead on first-period goals by Daniel Amesbury and Kevin Lourens, but Mission came roaring back to tie it on a pair of goals from Sean Pesut.
The Pilots executed a pair of key penalty kills in the late stages of the game – on a too-many-men penalty with 31 seconds left in the third period, and a charging penalty to Christopher Vinette early in the first OT.
Abby goalie Brad Anderson made 32 saves in the victory, while Adam Rossi picked up two assists. Cowden also lauded the play of veteran forward Travis Grewal.
“Travis really stepped it up,” Cowden said. “He was moving his feet and had a bunch of key blocked shots.”