The Selkirk College Saints opened the 2016-2017 British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) regular season with a slight stumble, but nobody said the quest for a fifth straight league title would be easy.
Coming into the regular season as the four-time defending league champions, the Saints home opener Saturday night featured an entertaining game against the Simon Fraser University Clan. A pair of powerplay goals and stellar goaltending by Jordan Liem helped the Clan escape the Castlegar & District Recreation Complex with a 3-2 victory.
The Selkirk College Saints hockey team officially opened the 2016-2017 BCIHL regular season on Saturday night at the Castlegar & District Recreation Complex. Prior to the puck drop, the Saints raised their fourth straight provincial championship banner to the rafters of the Castlegar rink. Selkirk College Vice President of Students & Advancement Cathy Mercer (middle left) joined members of last year's team and this year's captains for the pre-game banner raising ceremony.
“It’s a learning experience, by no means am I devastated by the loss,” says Saints head coach Brent Heaven. “Last season we got off to slow start and then we had a lot of success in the second half. It’s a process and we are building towards an end goal, that goal doesn’t change because we lose one game.”
Special Teams Key in Outcome
After raising the banner to the rafters of the Castlegar arena pre-game, the Saints got off to a slow start. Simon Fraser controlled play for the first 10 minutes of the opening frame, before the Saints found their edge. A hard hitting first period ended with both Saints’ starter Brett Huber and Clan goaltender Liem keeping the puck out of the net.
Simon Fraser opened the scoring four minutes into the middle frame when Mitch Crisanti scored on the powerplay. A minute later, a sloppy breakout by the Saints resulted in an Adam Callegari goal and a 2-0 Clan lead.
Saints goaltender Brett Huber and defenceman Ashton McLeod were busy thwarting the Clan attack during Saturday's game.
Veteran Saints forward Alex Milligan gave the supportive home crowd something to cheer about with less than a minute remaining in the second period when he put away a rebound to cut the lead to 2-1.
Saints assistant captain Ryan Edwards tied the score early in the third period when his blast from the point on the powerplay found the back of the Simon Fraser net. Four minutes into final period, the Clan struck again on the powerplay when Brendan Lamont stuffed a rebound past Huber.
The Saints pressed, firing 12 third period shots on Liem but could not get the equalizer.
“When they have seven opportunities to score with the man advantage, it’s tough to win those games,” says Heaven about the penalty problems that hampered the Saints in the opener. “You have to play a bit more disciplined to have good success in this league.”
The Saints outshot the Clan 37-31 in the game.
The Selkirk College team will now hit the road for two straight weekends where they will get a look at Trinity Western University, the University of Victoria and a rematch against Simon Fraser. They return home on October 28 for a game against U.S. rival Eastern Washington University.