Selkirk Saints break out brooms to sweep pair of home games from UVIC Vikes
After a pair of weekend victories against the University of Victoria Vikes, the Selkirk College Saints are riding a four-game winning streak and sitting right where they hoped to be in the early stages of the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) season.
The three-time defending league champions trounced the Vikes 9-1 on Friday night and followed it up with a hard fought 4-2 win on Saturday to complete the weekend sweep.
The Saints now sit atop the BCIHL standings with a 6-2 record as they get set to complete the first half of the season on the road — November 14 and 21 against Eastern Washington University Eagles.
“When we are playing our game, within our system and working hard… we are one of the top teams, if not the top team in the league,” says Saints coach Brent Heaven.
“That’s somewhere we want to be and it took us a little bit of time to find our groove. Over the last month we have gotten into a position where the guys are buying in and starting to identify their individual roles which is helping our team’s success.”
In Friday night’s thumping of the Vikes, Jamie Vlanich and Dallas Calvin led the assault with two goals and two assists each, but at the end of the night 15 players registered at least one point.
In a game that was scoreless after the first 20 minutes, Saints goaltender James Prigione and the Selkirk College defence were solid in preparation for the goal parade.
“We can roll any line and get success from it,” Heaven says of the relentless Selkirk College attack. “Each line contributes in a different way and brings a different element to the program.”
On Saturday night, the Saints built a 3-0 lead after the opening period with Vlanich notching two more goals to bolster his weekend totals.
The Vikes came roaring back in the second period with two of their own when the Patrick Webb and Chris Manhas managed to beat Saints starter Brett Huber. Rookie defenceman Nathan Browne scored just over five minutes into the third to give the Saints a 4-2 lead they would not relinquish.
The Saints have now seen all four BCIHL teams that stand between them and a fourth straight league title. With a goal differential of plus-25 and five of the league’s top-10 scorers, the Saints have made a statement early on. Despite the success, Heaven says there is plenty of work to be done before the real celebration can begin.
“There are good teams in this league, there is going to be some ups and downs over the season,” says Heaven.
“It’s not going to be easy. Anytime you are striving for a championship the process is difficult. The hard work will pay off when you put it in and we’re definitely on the right track.”
The Saints will now hit the road for the next eight regular season games where the team’s ability to play in unfriendly confines will be tested.
“It’s good bonding time for the guys,” Heaven says of the upcoming roadtrips.
“Last year we had some struggles on the road, but we have had some good success at home and that should help with our confidence.”
The Saints will play an exhibition series with North Dakota’s Williston State on January 8 and 9 at the Castlegar & District Community Complex.
The team’s next BCIHL regular season home game is January 29 when they will host Trinity Western University.