Selkirk College Saints Find Optimism in OT Loss
Friday night’s British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) match-up between the Selkirk College Saints and the Trinity Western University Spartans took place at the end of January, but it had the intensity and emotion of a March playoff game.
In one of the grittiest contests to be played at the Castlegar & District Recreation Centre in recent memory, the Saints and Spartans battled in a drama filled game that ended three minutes into the overtime period when TWU forward Jamie Russell happened upon a fortuitous bounce off the end-boards and buried the puck for a thrilling 3-2 victory.
“It’s an eye-opener and that’s important at this stage of the season,” says Saints head coach Brent Heaven.
“It shows our guys that the game isn’t going to always be wide open and you have to be able to play in different styles of games.”
Over the last four seasons, the Saints have not lost at home very often as they forged their way to three straight league championships.
Friday’s overtime setback was only the second loss at home in this campaign and it came courtesy of three unanswered goals by the Spartans that began late in the third period.
The Saints jumped off to an early start in the game when Ryan Edwards scored just under two minutes into the first period. Four minutes later, newcomer Cody Bardock made the score 2-0 for the home side.
The game was scrappy and tight checking throughout with TWU focusing on the Saints’ top offensive threats like rookie Dallas Calvin who currently sits second in league scoring.
With just over seven minutes left in the third period, TWU scored on the powerplay when Blair Murphy tipped a shot that eluded Saints starter James Prigione. With a minute and a half left to play, Ryan Bakken ignited the Spartans bench with the tying goal.
Despite the overtime loss, the Saints gained one point and jumped into a tie for the league lead with Simon Fraser University.
“Trinity Western really keyed on our top players and it’s good for our team because it shows what we are going to be facing when the playoffs to come,” Heaven says of the Friday loss.
“It’s not going to be the wide open run-and-gun, it will be more a defensive battle and the in-the-trenches style of game. It gives us an idea of where we need to be and what kind of work we need to get in order to get ourselves properly prepared for the playoff run.”
The line of Tyler Kerner Steven Pantazopoulos and Marcel Fuchs stood out in a contest that featured plenty of solid hits and scrappy play by both teams.
“It takes everybody, but in a game like that those players come to the forefront,” Heaven says of the combination that rose to the occasion.
“They play an aggressive style of game and are energy guys. They had one of their best games of the year. It takes every line to contribute in order to win a championship and those guys are definitely stepping up and showing their teammates they are willing to sacrifice every time they step on the ice.”
The Saints quest for a fourth straight league championship continues on Friday night when the University of Victoria Vikes pay a visit to the Castlegar & District Recreation Complex.
The Vikes, with former Nelson Leafs Carsen Willans, Linden Horswill, Matt MacDonald and Austin Seaman on the roster, currently sit fourth in the league and need the victory to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot.
The game gets underway at 7 p.m.