The Selkirk College Saints hockey team put a lock on the regular season title on the weekend with a pair of wins on the road in BC Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) action.
The Saints marched to victory with a convincing 5-0 victory over Simon Fraser University on Friday, before mounting an impressive come-from-behind 6-3 win over the Trinity Western University Spartans on Saturday.
The Saints went into the weekend games trailing SFU by one point, but the two victories put Selkirk up by three points with one game to play as they clinch home ice for the Mar. 11 playoff start and begin their quest for an unprecedented fourth consecutive BCIHL championship.
“When we started the regular season, first place was the ultimate goal because playing before the tremendous support we receive in Castlegar is huge benefit in the playoffs,” Saints head coach Brent Heaven told Selkirk communications rep Bob Hall. “The boys came into this weekend determined to return home with a pair of wins. The entire team played great in both games and the two wins were well deserved.”
In Friday’s match, after a scoreless first frame, the Saints erupted for three goals in the second period to take a commanding lead into the third. Trail native Ryan Edwards finished a pretty passing play with Jamie Vlanich to score what proved to be the winning goal at 18:01, then former Trail Smoke Eater Dallas Calvin tallied his 18th of the season midway through the period, before Tanner Lenting made it 3-0 on an Edwards assist.
James Prigione earned the shut out, stopping 22 shots, while Steve Pantazopoulos and Troy Maclise netted the final two markers into an empty net as SFU struggled to find momentum.
Calvin was named the games first star, with Edwards and Pantazopoulos taking second and third star honours.
“Simon Fraser has been playing some great hockey this season and they are a very good team,” says Heaven. “We’ve had our struggles in their arena, so to see the team play that well against a top-notch team was very rewarding.”
On Saturday, the Saints found themselves down 3-1 heading, but a spirited come back lifted the team to the 6-3 victory over TWU. Tylor Branzsen scored twice for the Saints including the winning goal 1:09 into the third period to give the Saints a 4-3 lead. Edwards and Calvin each had two assists on the night, while Dane Feeney, Pantazopoulos, Derek Georgopoulos, and Alex Milligan netted the other goals for the Saints.
Selkirk outshot the Spartans 43-22 with Brett Huber collecting the win in net, and Branzsen earning the game’s first star.
“Fighting adversity and staying composed when you are behind is vital when it comes to playoffs,” says Heaven. “That was a great comeback and what makes it even more encouraging is that every player contributed in an important way to ensure it happened. It was a great way to clinch first overall.”
The Saints wrap up the regular season on Saturday night against the Eastern Washington University Eagles at the Castlegar Rec Complex at 7 p.m. Playoffs start on Mar. 11 when Selkirk will host the University of Victoria Vikings, with the best-of-three series starting Friday at 7 p.m.