The Selkirk College Saints locked up home ice advantage in the first round of the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) playoffs after two huge wins on Vancouver Island this past weekend.
The Saints headed west to take on the University of Victoria Vikes in a two-game set that was pivotal in determining what team would host the BCIHL semi-final when the post-season begins on March 6. Determined to play in front of their boisterous home fans at the Castlegar Recreation Complex, the Saints made a statement with a 7-1 win on Friday night and 6-2 dismantling of the Vikes on Saturday afternoon.
“We knew where we were in the standings,” says Saints Head Coach Alex Evin. “We stressed that we needed to be prepared to battle and do what it took to get the points to get us home ice. The guys were really prepared and it made for some fun hockey to watch as a coach.”
On Saturday afternoon the Saints swarmed the Vikes putting them back on their heels from the opening whistle. Trail native and former Beaver Valley Nitehawk Ryan Edwards started the rampage two minutes into the game when he was set up by former Smoke Eaters Darnell Dyck and Logan Proulx. The Saints then notched four unanswered goals—Matt Martin, Dyck, Tyler Kerner and Proulx—before the Vikes finally got on the board with a Carsen Willans goal.
The teams exchanged goals in the second period—James Tindle for Victoria and Edwards for Selkirk—and after a scoreless final period, the game ended 6-2. Prigione picked up his ninth win of the season and currently leads the BCIHL in goals against average with a 2.33.
“When we are all on the same page and executing, we’re a great team to watch and we are really hard to play against,” says Evin. “We are starting play with a little more grit, which really adds to our skill and speed.”
The Saints are 6-0-1 in their last seven games and after an inconsistent first semester have found their stride. Injuries to key players like defenceman Ryan Procyshyn and rookie forward Jamie Vlanich of Trail in the first half of the season didn’t help, but it’s a new focus that has the coaching staff optimistic heading into the playoffs.
“We’ve made some adjustments to our attitude, our approach and our commitment to the way we want to play,” says Evin. “It’s definitely showing in the results in the last two months.
The Saints wrap up the regular season this Saturday when they travel to Cheney, Wash. to take on the Eastern Washington University Eagles.
The Saints will then host either the University of Victoria or Simon Fraser University in the best-of-three BCIHL semi-final which will take place Mar. 6-8. If successful in the semi-final, the Saints will be off to the BCIHL final on March 13-15 in hopes of capturing a third straight league championship.