All photos courtesy Jeff Dyck
The Outlaws closed the book on the 2016-17 regular season with a pair of home games against the Pilots and Ice Hawks.
The games had no bearing on where the Gunslingers would finish up after 44 games, so the theme was about finding extra ice time for the role players and not sustaining any injuries before their first round encounter with Aldergrove in a few days.
On Saturday the team doled out some bling before taking on Abbotsford in a pre-game ceremony. For players like Tristan Dundas, Brock Padgham and Brody Dyck, who are still playing hockey back east, a family member was on hand to collect their 2016 PJHL championship rings.
One of the most touching presentations was when Megan Steenhuisen accepted the ring for her beloved husband and former Outlaws trainer Nikko, who I’m sure was beaming watching from above. Full set of pictures https://www.flickr.com/photos/80385910@N06/albums/72157678095662102
The game that followed was far less inspired. The Outlaws were assessed the only three penalties of the first period and were lucky to escape the first 20 minutes down 2-1, despite being outshot 15-5. Sammy Zeinab with the goal.
Mission tied it up in the second thanks to a Nic Bizzutto goal, but Abbotsford would strike on the power-play 10 minutes later and rattle off two more to take a 5-2 lead.
Kolby Steen scored the only goal of the third period, and the only shot of the 15 Keaton Dyck faced to elude him after taking over from Matt Trulsen, who made 22 stops.
Kyle Dosanj had two assists in the loss.
It was a typical Pilots game, as the officials could have flown to Hawaii if they got Air Miles for every trip to the Pilots bench to explain a call to their coaching staff.
On Sunday Dyck got the start against the Delta Ice Hawks in a game originally scheduled for the February 4th. The Ice Hawks came out hungry, as a win would clinch first place in the Tom Shaw Conference for them.
They scored two minutes in, up a man. Magnus Cheung skated from his own zone, picked up speed through the neutral zone and scored un-touched to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. They added two more, and finished the first with a 3-0 lead. Shots were 15-6 DEL.
The Outlaws woke up in the second period. Jackson Waniek from Kyle Lennea and Ryan Sharma with 1:15 left, then Lennea from Sharma and Sammy Zeinab with :35 seconds remaining. Outlaws peppered Jordan Naylor with 14 shots to the Ice Hawks 9.
The ‘Laws tied the game with another Waniek offering. Set up by Sharma and Michal Holub on the power-play two minutes and change in. For Waniek that was goal number 72 in his PJHL career, leap frogging Stephan Ryan into a tie for 11th in all-time league goal scoring.
Then the wheels fell off.
Delta rattled off two goals in a minute 16, then one more with just over seven minutes left and up a man. Ryan Sharma scored the final regular season goal of his junior hockey career, and at 42, he ties David McGowan for third place on the all-time Mission City goal list. Zeinab with the apple. Dyck made 28 saves, including two incredible stops in the second period. Naylor made 29.
After the game, Sharma talked about the historic goal.
“Obviously it’s nice to get a milestone like that. But now I’ll forget about it and look forward to the playoffs. It;s a different season. Success there isn’t measured by how many goals you get, but how the team does.”
As for whether the push back in the second period was a good building block to end the regular season on…
“I think we came out flat today, but got going in the second period. I think guys realize that now were are heading into the playoffs. We can’t afford to take any shifts off. The teams we’ll face are good and will take advantage if you give them opportunities.”
Coach Brad Veitch echoed Sharma’s thoughts.
“It was (nice to see a pushback). That’s something we talked about during the first intermission. We knew this game didn’t mean a lot to us in the overall scope of things, but we had to get going in the right direction, and start playing playoff hockey. And I thought we did in the second.”
As for what his team needs to do (or not do) against Aldergrove.
“I thought we took some needless penalties. That’s going to kill us in the playoffs. Penalties 200 feet from our net shouldn’t be happening.”
Any advantage for the Outlaws against a team that finished 32 points ahead of them in the standings?
“Well we’ve got a lot more playoff success on our roster than they do. The two previous years we finished higher than them. We’ve got guys that have won championships and I don’t think they have many, if any left over from when they won three years ago. We have a lot of experience, which is key as long as we utilize it.”
Game one goes Tuesday in Aldergrove at 6:30.
Here’s how the regular season series went.