Selkirk College Saints Sweep Weekend Series with Eagles
If the Selkirk College Saints hope to capture a fifth straight British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) title, they will do it with depth.
Flowing into the form that has seen the Saints become the gold standard in the league over the last few years, the Selkirk College squad beat the Eastern Washington University Eagles twice over the weekend to extend their winning streak to five games. Matt Martin led the way with a hat trick in Friday night’s 6-1 victory and Alex Milligan notched a hat trick in Saturday night’s 5-4 win to pace the Saints offence.
“They have both had big games for us in the past, but now they have been here for a couple years and are getting more opportunities,” Selkirk College coach Brent Heaven said about Martin and Milligan. “Our expectations for them are high and they are getting some rewards. It’s nice to have that depth in your line-up and have everybody contribute.”
In the weekend’s opening game at the Castlegar & District Recreation Complex on Friday, Martin got the Saints off to the lead less than five minutes in when he gathered a loose puck and put a pretty backhander past Eagles’ starting goaltender Austin Brihn. Derek Georgopoulos gave the Saints a 2-0 lead a minute later, but before the end of the first period the Eagles made it 2-1.
Selkirk College forward Troy Maclise scored less than 20 seconds into a middle period that was dominated by the Saints. Rookie Jack Mills made it 4-1 and late in the second period, Martin jumped on another loose puck on the powerplay to make it 5-1. With just under three minutes left in the third period, Martin registered his hat trick goal on the powerplay.
“The powerplay was clicking tonight and you get rewarded for being in the tough areas because that’s where the puck comes,” Martin said of his success in close. “I got my stick down and put it a few times tonight. It’s a battle out there in front of the net, but I like getting into those spots where you have a chance to help your team.”
On Saturday, the Saints traveled to Cheney for the back half of the home-and-home at the Eastern Washington University Recreation Complex. The Saints built a 5-2 lead after 40 minutes courtesy of Milligan’s three goals and contributions from Dane Feeney and Mills. In a penalty-heavy third period, the officials put the Saints at the disadvantage for most of the final frame which allowed the home side to claw back.
“We got the result we wanted on Saturday, but it was a tough game with all the penalties,” said Heaven. “Special teams were a huge part of the game and we weathered the storm in third period to get out of there with the two points.”
In their first two seasons, both Milligan and Martin were relied upon to provide solid two-way gritty play. With their first BCIHL hat tricks now in the books, the pair have shown they can be an important part of the Saints offence.
“You have to own your role,” Martin said after Friday’s game. “In the first two years, there were guys here who had been here longer and had more of a scoring role. Now that I’m in my third year, you get to have more chances to score and produce points.”
The coach agrees that at the college level it’s important to be adaptable and evolve as a player.
“It’s not so much about waiting your turn, but finding a role,” said Heaven. “You have to be patient and find a role that best benefits the team. When you do that it helps bring the group together and the players start getting their rewards. I’m happy for both of those guys that they were able to get their first [BCIHL] career hat tricks this weekend and hopefully they can continue with this progression.”
Next up for the Saints is a visit from the Trinity Western University Spartans, one of the league’s perennial powerhouses.
“Trinity is going to come here and look to get themselves back into a spot where they are at the top of the league,” says Heaven. “Hopefully we can dictate the play and force Trinity to play into our style rather than having to react to their game.”
The Saints take on the Spartans on Friday night at the Castlegar & District Recreation Complex starting at 7 p.m.