Selkirk College Saints chasing more history
The Selkirk College Saints begin their quest for an unprecedented fourth straight British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) championship this weekend when they open the regular season against the Trinity Western University Spartans.
The Saints capped a stellar 2014-2015 post-season in March when they triumphed over Simon Fraser University in two straight games in the BCIHL final series before packed houses at the Castlegar & District Recreation Centre. Prior to the puck dropping on the 2015-2016 season this Friday night, the Saints will raise their third straight banner to the rafters of the Castlegar rink helping solidify the team’s place in West Kootenay hockey lore.
“Last season we overcame a great deal of adversity to reach our ultimate goal,” says Saints head coach Brent Heaven. “Friday night will be a chance to revisit that accomplishment, but also start to write a new chapter for this program. We’re looking forward to getting going and building on our past success.”
As is the case with college hockey programs, the Saints are in a constant state of rebuilding from season to season. The Saints lost eight key players from last season’s squad to graduation. Gone from the this year’s roster are Logan Proulx, Darnell Dyck, Stefan Gonzales, Lucas Hildebrand, Ryan Procyshyn, Mason Spear, Thomas Hardy and Stefan Virtanen.
“All the players who graduated from the program were important contributors to the team’s success,” says Heaven. “But with the veterans who have returned and the new additions, this team will provide the same level of excitement that fans have come to expect from the Saints.”
Key returning players include goaltender James Prigione who will be supported by veteran defencemen Tanner Lenting and Arie Postmus. All three players are back in a Saints uniform for a third season and will form the nucleus of a strong unit in the defensive zone.
In the second half of the 2014-2015 season, the emergence of the Saints top line that included Proulx, Dyck and then-newcomer Ryan Edwards was vital to the team’s ultimate success. All three players finished in the league’s top-10 in scoring and paced the Saints in the post-season. Despite losing two-thirds of the line, Heaven says this year’s roster is not lacking in the scoring department.
“We have a very balanced attack and I expect both the returning forwards and the new players to fill the offensive void,” says Heaven. “It’s always difficult to see players like Logan and Darnell leave, but this is a great opportunity for others to pick up that element of the game.”
New recruits on defence include Ashton McLeod, Richard Gratz, Nelson Hurry and Nathan Browne. All four impressed during the exhibition season and solidify the Saints blueline corps. Heaven will have plenty of firepower to work with on offence with new recruits like Marcel Fuchs, Derek Georgopoulos, Jonas Horvath, Dane Feeney, Ryon Sookro, Troy Maclise and Dallas Calvin.
Over the last few years the quality of hockey played in the BCIHL has increased significantly. With the Saints established as the gold standard, Heaven expects the opposition to be gunning for the champs.
“It was a battle last season because all of the teams improved a great deal,” says Heaven. “If we are to defend our title, it’s not going to be easy. But we have the talent in the room to make it happen and everybody’s excited to see where it takes us.”
Trinity Western finished in top spot after the regular season in 2014-2015, but were upset by Simon Fraser in the first round. They will be the competition on both Friday and Saturday night at the Castlegar Recreation Complex. The puck drops at 7 p.m. on both nights.