Selkirk College Saints goaltender Brett Huber was sensational in backstopping the BCIHL’s top team to a 4-3 victory over the Eastern Washington University Eagles on Saturday in Cheney, Wash.
Despite being outshot 43-20 in the game, Saints forward Ryan Edwards netted his second goal of the season to score what proved to be the winning goal with 5:35 to play in the second period.
After Eagles Matt Lucero was sent off for a hit to the head, Edwards, a Trail native, converted a pass from Jamie Vlanich to put the Saints up 4-2 to earn the Saints their league leading eighth win of the season.
But it was Huber who stole the show as the Calgary native repelled a vigorous Eagle attack in the third period, stopping 18 shots in the final frame to preserve the victory.
“Every game we know we have a chance to win because of those guys between the pipes,” Saints captain Tyler Lenting told Inside the BCIHL. “We know that playing a defensive game will move us on to scoring goals, and we’ve had our coaches telling us since Day 1 that defence wins hockey games, so having those guys in net is a big confidence for us.”
The Saints jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a pair of goals from Matt Martin 20 seconds apart, with former Beaver Valley Nitehawk defenceman Danny Vlanich assisting on both markers. However, Paxton Bell would draw EWU to within one before the period was out.
Jamie Vlanich put the Saints up 3-1 on a set up from former Trail Smoke Eater defenceman Nathan Browne 77 seconds into the middle frame. But Eagles forward Trevor Zakrajsek replied, making it 3-2 at 12:35 on the power play.
After Edwards counted his 15th point of the season, Brett Mathews would round out the scoring on another power-play goal at 3:23, but that was as close as the Eagles would get.
Jamie Vlanich’s two points puts him tied for second in league scoring with seven goals and 17 points, while Edwards is right behind him with 15 points. Saints forward Dallas Calvin, who leads the BCIHL in scoring with 12-8-20, missed Saturday’s game due to a lower body injury.
Browne and Danny Vlanich were big contributors on the back end, each with two assists. The Browne and Vlancih duo lead all defencemen in the league with nine and eight points respectively.
“We have a lot of skill on the back end and the front end as well, but the defence has really stepped up their game and allowed us to shut down other teams,” said Lenting.
The Saints dodged a bullet in the third period. Down two men for over three minutes, they killed off the penalties to win their sixth game in a row. Selkirk College has not lost a game since going 2-2 to start the season and have a six-point cushion on Trinity Western and Simon Fraser University. Among their victories, the Saints beat EWU at home 9-2 on Oct. 24 and eked out another 4-3 win on Nov. 6 at the EWU Rec Complex.
“We don’t think of the winning streak, but it’s a hard barn to go play in,” said Lenting. “They (EWU) get big crowds and they seem to play a more confident game when they’re down there.”