If this was the appetizer to a potential first round match-up in two weeks,we could have quite the main course. The Outlaws played gritty, hungry hockey in a 5-3 win at MSA.
The last time these teams met on December 3rd, the Outlaws left the MLC as 5-4 overtime victors by erasing a Pilots 4-0 lead in the game. They wouldn’t need the same come back tonight to gather the two points.
The Pilots opened the scoring, with Mitchell Plevy scooping up a drop pass from Kellan Lavallee inside the Outlaws blueline, then firing a wrist shot past Outlaws keeper Matt Trulsen just four minutes in.
The Outlaws responded up a man. Ryan Sharma slammed home a rebound past Jacob Crawford in the Pilots net, with Kyle Lennea and Jackson Waniek drawing the assists.
The visitors came close to taking the lead as Holub feathered a pass to Waniek from the side of the Pilots net. Crawford came up with a big save to deny him.
Then the hits started ramping up. Matt Mason leveled Plevy, which seemed to be the spark for a fiery contest the rest of the way.
Matt Trulsen also made a big stop, as Carter Shannon found himself alone at the doorstep after an Outlaws turnover, but couldn’t solve the 17 year old netminder out of Maple Ridge.
The action kept coming early in the Second period. Sharma was sent in alone on a breakaway, but missed the net and shot it high. One of the only miscues for the Outlaws captain this evening.
Kyle Mooney continued the physical tone by thumping down Justin Peaker in front of the Pilots net.
Sharma had another great chance after some fine passing between himself, Kyle Lennea and Sammy Zeinab, but Crawford managed to stop the shot attempt with his pads while on his derriere.
Trulsen matched Crawford’s effort with a great save of his own to keep it level at 1-1.
Nic Bizzutto snapped the deadlock, scoring from a sharp angle on Crawford at the 11 minute mark. Sharma and Dosanj the apples.
After that the Pilots got in penalty trouble. First Corbin Genge received a double minor, then Noah Weibe was sent off for hooking. On the ensuing 5-on-3, Sharma put home a puck off a scramble, with Lennea and Waniek also in on the scoring play. Trulsen had to come up big one more time before the period ended, for as the penalties expired, Nicholas Leeder raced in alone but couldn’t solve Trulsen.
The Pilots poured on the pressure in the third. First former Outlaws Tyler Wickman sent a blast towards Trulsen some seven minutes in, but was stopped. Then Noah Weibe dangled around the Outlaws defense and set up Shannon with 11:35 left.
Just after that goal was announced, Michael Sande responded by sniping one past Crawford with a wrist shot from the point to restore the two goal lead. Sharma and Zeinab the helpers.
Things got testy again as Genge took a shot on the Outlaws net well after a whistle. That set off multiple fights, as Matthew Mason and Michael Nemeth drew ejections, as did the Pilots Nicolas Leeder and Justin Peaker with 9:55 left. That means Mason and Nemeth will watch the Outlaws/Panthers game from the stands.
The Pilots pulled to within one. Weibe again drove around the defense, but this time took the shot himself which lit the lamp.
Waniek came close to restoring the two goal advantage, as he found himself all alone at the side of the net and a gaping cage waiting. He would hit the wrong side of the twine.
The Outlaws were called for a penalty late, but managed to kill it off, and in fact snuffed out all three Pilots man advantages.
The Pilots made one final push, sending Crawford to the bench for an extra attacker. Sammy Zeinab, though, outraced Wickman for a loose puck near the Pilots net and sealed the win. Sharma with his fifth point the first assist, Michal Holub the second. It finished 5-3, as Trulsen made 37 saves, while Crawford stopped 33.
The scoring may have finished, but the action didn’t. With eight seconds left, there was one last big meeting of the minds/fists after a hit on McCarnan in front of the benches. It should set up an intriguing final game of the regular season between these teams at the MLC on February 11.
After the game, a jubilant Assistant Coach Nick Thompson offered up his thoughts.
“Our leaders stepped up and had good games tonight! Sharma leading the way with 5 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!!”
The Outlaws are home Saturday when the Port Moody Panthers pay a visit at 6:45.