The British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) standings may not have changed much after a weekend series between the Selkirk College Saints and Simon Fraser University Clan, but more seeds were planted for what is shaping up to be a great second half of the season.
The two clubs opened the 2017 half of the season with a two-game series before a pair of supportive crowds at the Castlegar & District Recreation Complex. The first-place Clan escaped a feisty Friday night contest with a 5-3 win, but the Saints responded Saturday night with a 4-2 victory.
Selkirk College Saints forward Jonas Horvath and Simon Fraser University’s Adam Callegari tangle during a faceoff at Friday night’s BCIHL game at the Castlegar & District Recreation Complex. The Saints return to action this Saturday night (January 21) when they take on the University of Victoria in Castlegar. The home game will be their last until February 24, so now is your chance to check out some great hockey action.
“It wasn’t the ultimate result we wanted, but we didn’t lose any ground,” says Saints head coach Brent Heaven. “It wasn’t a bad weekend, it wasn’t a great weekend… but it was a good weekend and a really strong progression for our team.”
A Hard Hitting and Scrappy Opening Game
Both teams came out hitting on Friday night in what was a very physical affair. Simon Fraser jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when Scott Patterson scored a top-corner powerplay goal on Selkirk College starter Brett Huber just over three minutes after the opening faceoff. Saints forward Matt Martin responded less than a minute later when he stuffed away a rebound for his eighth goal of the season. After SFU’s Jesse Mysiorek and Selkirk College’s Alex Milligan exchanged goals, the Clan edged ahead with 14 seconds left in the first period to take a 3-2 lead into the dressing room.
The Clan continued to hold the upper hand in the game with the bulk of the powerplay chances, scoring three times with the man-advantage. Despite hard work, the Saints were unable to mount the comeback and dropped the first game in a chilly night at the Castlegar complex.
Intermission breaks at Friday night's game featured students from Selkirk International who put on a dance show and provided displays of writing from their cultures.
“Both teams play a very similar game,” Heaven says of the surly nature of Friday’s game. “We play a very physical game in order to put our best foot forward and that’s the way SFU plays. We’ve had a tight series with them over the season so far and when games are emotionally charged, you get a pretty nasty rivalry.”
On Saturday night, Selkirk College forward Ryan Edwards scored midway through the first period to set the pace for the Saints. Rookie forward Wade Johnson made it 2-0 early in the second period and though Simon Fraser cut the lead in half shortly after, Milligan restored the two-goal cushion before the end of the second period. The teams exchanged goals in the final frame on the way to a weekend split.
“It was a strong progression for us as a group over the weekend,” says Heaven, who was not behind the bench on Saturday due to a one-game suspension for losing his temper with the officials late in Friday night’s game. “The assistant coaches and leaders on the team really stepped forward on Saturday. It’s great to see the players take ownership and know the strategy going into the game. They went out there and did it, which is a huge stride forward for our season.”
Saints Balanced Attack an Asset
The third place Saints now get ready for the fourth place University of Victoria Vikes who arrive to Castlegar on Saturday night. Though Victoria’s record is less than stellar this season, Heaven says the Saints can’t take the 6-8-0-1 Vikes lightly.
“Every game in the second half is that much more important,” he says. “We really have to take advantage of these games coming up. UVIC has a much stronger team than they have had in the past, but they have been battling injuries and that may reflect in their record because they are no slouch by any means.”
Saints assistant captain Matt Martin has provided both grit and timely scoring so far this season. He will be relied upon down the stretch if the Saints are to have success.
With an injury to leading scorer Dallas Calvin, the Saints will need to rely more on players like Matt Martin and Alex Milligan who both had tremendous weekends against Simon Fraser.
“They bring a solid effort every single night and they are being reward with the points they are producing,” Heaven says of his two key veterans. “We have seven guys on our team that are close to a point a game, which shows the depth we have as a group. We don’t necessarily have to rely on one guy or one line when you have this many guys who can produce regularly. It gives you a lot of confidence that we can play against anybody.”
The Saints take on the University of Victoria at the Castlegar & District Recreation Complex this Saturday night (January 21) with the puck dropping at 7 p.m. Telus is the game night sponsor and it will be the last home game for the Saints until February 24.