Richmond – It was a tightly contested battle Saturday night between the Abbotsford Pilots (13-21-0-1) and the Ridge Meadows Flames (18-12-0-3), but it was the Pilots taking the victory by a score of 2-1 and snapping a four game losing skid. The game was played at Minoru Arena in Richmond as part of the fifth-annual PJHL Winter Classic Showcase, which featured all 12 PJHL teams in action under one roof throughout the weekend. In his 25th appearance of the season, Pilots’ goaltender Brock Machholz put aside 35 shots for the win and received Player of the Game honours for his effort.
The game was the fourth and final meeting of the season between the two Harold Brittain Conference clubs. Despite dropping the result, the Flames took the season series 3-1-0-0 outscoring the Pilots 15-8 in the process.
The Pilots jumped to an early lead thanks to a Noah Findlater goal at 6:21 of the first period. Austin Moar entered the attacking zone and connected with the defenceman in the right circle. Flames goaltender Elliot Marshall made the initial save but he was unable to hang on to the puck and it trickled in for Findlater’s second of the season.
The two sides exchanged power play goals in the second frame. First, Eric Bourhill stepped up at 4:32. With Abbotsford’s Massimo Ranallo serving a boarding penalty, it took Ridge Meadows only 10 seconds to capitalize on the man advantage. Off the offensive zone draw, Tetsuya Prior found Eric Bourhill in the corner who fired a sharp angle shot top shelf over the shoulder of Brock Machholz for his 10th of the season.
The Abbotsford captain stepped up later in the period at 18:05. Marshall made the initial stop of a Pilots shot from the point, but failed to control the rebound which sailed directly up and landed in his crease. Jared Pitkethly was able to poke it past the Flames goaltender blocker side for his 9th goal of the year and his 4th power play goal.
The Flames pushed hard in the final frame coming up with 15 shots while the Pilots mustered up 4. Three power play opportunities came up short for Ridge Meadows and, ultimately, no goals in the 3rd period allowed the 2-1 score to finalize.
Final Score: Abbotsford Pilots 2 – Ridge Meadows Flames 1
Final Shots: 36-18 Ridge Meadows Flames
Brock Machholz – 35/26 saves for Abbotsford, W (11-14-0)
Elliott Marshall – 16/18 saves for Ridge Meadows, L (11-9)
Abbotsford Power Play: 1/3
Ridge Meadows Power Play: 1/5
Players of the Game:
ABB – Brock Machholz
RM – Eric Bourhill
Next Pilots Game: Friday in Abbotsford against the Panthers at 7:30pm.