Friday, November 20, 2015 - Submitted by Adam Piercy
Coming out of the George Preston Recreational Centre Thursday night, I kept hearing the same phrase over and over again: “What a game.”
What a game indeed. For the second straight week, the Langley Knights managed to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to come away with a win at home. The Abbotsford Pilots peppered Knights’ goaltender Cole Forbes with 22 shots in the first period (to Langley’s 10), scoring two powerplay goals on three opportunities before Jayden Gill snuck one past Pilots netminder Jacob Crawford with eight seconds left in the period to draw within one.
The offensive onslaught continued into the second period, as the Pilots sent 21 more pucks Forbes’s way – but he stood tall, stopping every one. The Knights drew even with just under seven minutes remaining, as Tristan Craighead lobbed the puck on net, fooling Crawford. Craighead was head-and-shoulders above the rest Thursday night, also picking up an assist on the Gill goal.
The Knights scored another late-period goal to end the second, this one coming with sixteen seconds remaining. Lincoln Lane scored his third of the season on a play set up by Craighead and Nick Bizzutto, giving Langley their first lead of the game going into the second intermission.
Just as it was starting to look like a repeat of last week’s game against the Steelers (the Pilots were outshooting Langley 43-17 through two periods), the game took a complete 180 in the third, as the Knights outshot Abbotsford 17-6, completely controlling the flow of the game in the process. Pilots forward Hayden Guilderson received a game misconduct for a high hit on Ante Mustapic at 6:10, who left the game with a mild concussion. The Knights were unable to capitalize on the ensuing five-minute powerplay, and it remained a one-goal game.
Knights forward Brandon Galbraith took a tripping penalty with just over one minute remaining in the game putting the Pilots on a 6-4 powerplay with the net empty, but they were unable to penetrate the Knights backcheck, and Langley hung on for the win.
With the win Thursday night the Knights improved to 4-17-0-1 on the season, one point ahead of the league-worst Port Moody Panthers, who are currently mired in a nine-game losing streak. After losing their first nine home games, the Knights are now on a two-game home winning streak, which more than pleases head coach John Craighead.
“Game after game, we’re coaching our guys to give it their best every night, and tonight, their best was good enough,” he said of the win. “Knowing we can beat a good team like Abbotsford gives our team plenty of confidence, and with the amount of young guys we have, gaining confidence is huge.
“We’ve lost a lot of games this season, yes. But our guys haven’t given up, and I really have to tip my cap to them for that. They’re having fun. Morale is high. And at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing.”
The Knights faced former teammate Jackson Waniek for the first time since being dealt to the Pilots earlier this month, the latest in an exodus of veteran players that began with former captain Dylan McCann being shipped to the VIJHL. “Look, we want guys who want to be here,” Craighead said. “We’re building for the future here, and if guys don’t want to be a part of that, we’re more than happy to oblige them.”
The Knights will pay a visit to the Burnaby Winter Club on Sunday to face the 13-4-0-2 Grandview Steelers, against whom Langley have matched up rather well this season, before returning home next Thursday to face the Shaw-leading North Vancouver Wolf Pack.