It came down to 18 seconds left in the double overtime to decide Tuesday night’s game between the Delta Ice Hawks and Abbotsford Pilots, with the Pilots coming out on top 3-2.
The Ice Hawks outshot the Pilots 44-30 and come away with their first point of the season. Following the game, head coach Steve Robinson was optimistic about his team’s progression over the three games so far this season.
“The boys showed some good resiliency by fighting back in the third and we generated a lot of shots tonight,” said Robinson. “It’s obviously frustrating not to get the result, but I think it’s progress from the previous two games. I think we had some good jump and good surges, but we still have this struggle to put together a solid 60 minutes.”
The Pilots got on the board first with a marker from Keilan Toews, his first goal of the season, putting Abbotsford up 1-0 early.
Captain Mark Epshtein answered back with his own first goal of the season. He followed up on a Brad Fortin breakaway and grabbed the rebound, sliding it by Abbotsford goalie Brock Machholz.
The lone goal in the second period came on a Pilots 2-on-1, with Devon Wolfe potting the rebound after an initial save from Jordy Engelson.
In the third, Austin Kofler and Truman Chiu broke out into the Abbotsford zone. Chiu found the trailing Epshtein, who was wide open in the slot and scored to tie the game 2-2.
One overtime period playing 4-on-4 solved nothing, so the two teams went into 3-on-3 double overtime. The Ice Hawks had multiple breakaway chances in the extra frame, but weren’t able to collect the win. Jared Pitkethly scored for the Pilots in the dying seconds of double overtime, winning the game for Abbotsford.
With a week between games now, Robinson has practices, a dryland training session, and some video sessions in his plan to help him team continue their growth together.
He said a key to their success is “slowing down the game and finding that balance between composure and poise when you have the puck and that urgency to get the puck back. Finding that happy medium is a challenge, but most of the guys know it when they find it.”
“This is how we have to play collectively to be a good team. When we use our speed and move the puck, I think we can be a strong team.”
Delta will be back in action next Tuesday, September 17, back at the Ladner Leisure Centre taking on the Port Moody Panthers for the first time this season.