Abbotsford – Sean McCracken scored twice and Brock Machholz stopped 24 shots en route to the Abbotsford Pilots earning a win over the Port Moody Panthers 4-1 Friday night at MSA Arena. It was the second meeting of the season between the two teams, the Pilots now split the season series with the Panthers one game a piece and improve to a record of 12-17-0-1.
It was a special night as the Pilots welcomed Rogers Hometown Hockey host Tara Slone to perform a ceremonial pre-game puck drop. This was in advance of the travelling hockey festival being held in Abbotsford on Saturday and Sunday.
The Panthers opened the scoring only 43 seconds in the game thanks to Gagandeep Manhas connecting with Sukhraj Narwal parked in front of the Pilot crease. This was the rookie’s 4th goal of the season, and his first since November 20th.
Abbotsford replied with back-to-back goals. First at 9:06 when Sahvan Gill fired a shot through traffic from the left point to tie it up, his defence partner Matthew Dyck was credited with an assist. Later at 14:55, Alex Beechey received a backdoor pass from Noah Findlater and tucked it past the blocker of Lachlan Griffin to give the Pilots the lead. The Pilots would reduce the Panthers to single digits on the shot total, outshooting the visitors 22-7.
Sean McCracken would score back-to-back to extend the Pilots’ lead. First at 2:36 of the second period, and later at 10:47 of the third period. Austin Moar would tally an assist on both goals, and Abbotsford AP Ryan Moynahan would record his first point as Pilot assisting on McCracken’s second.
Panthers goaltender Lachlan Griffin stopped 40 of 44 Abbotsford shots, while his counterpart Brock Machholz put aside 24 shots for the Pilots.
The Pilots will travel to Maple Ridge on Saturday night to play the Brittain Conference-leading Flames. The next home game for the Pilots will be on Friday, December 20th when they host the Richmond Sockeyes.