Selkirk College advanced to their second consecutive B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League finals on Saturday with a 6-3 victory over Thompson Rivers University at the Castlegar Recreation Complex.
After Trail native Logan Proulx scored an overtime goal to win Game 1, 3-2, Connor McLaughlin completed a hat trick with 6:34 to play in regulation to lift the Saints to victory in the best-of-three series with TRU.
Selkirk scored three times in the final 20 minutes to eliminate TRU. Leading 3-2 entering the third period, the Saints went up by two for the first time in the series on a Cody Fidgett goal before building a three-goal cushion when Thomas Hardy finished off a fine individual effort on the power-play.
But the WolfPack responded with 7:23 remaining in regulation to make it a 5-3 game.
But McLaughlin’s third goal of the game came on the very next shift, effectively ending any further hopes of a TRU comeback.
“TRU gave us two tough games and never backed down when it seemed like we were going to start rolling and build on a lead,” says Saints head coach Jeff Dubois. “Chris Solecki was outstanding for them again tonight and really kept things tight through the end of the second period. We seemed to find another gear in the third, which was exactly what we wanted to see with a one-goal lead and the series on the line.”
“Offensively, we hadn’t seen our A-game in a few weeks but we got stronger as the game went on tonight and seemed to convert on our chances when it counted. You don’t want to go into a championship series with any type of worries about being able to put the puck in the net, and I think we put any of that to bed in the third.”
The teams traded a pair of goals each in the first period, as markers from McLaughlin and Garrett were quickly countered by equalizers from Dayton Shaww and Tyler Jackson. Solecki stood tall in the second period and turned away a number of excellent scoring chances before McLaughlin picked up his second of the night with less than 90 seconds remaining in the period.
Chris Hurry was tested often in the third period as the WolfPack pushed to close the gap, but was solid and steady in a 21-save performance. Solecki allowed six goals on 43 shots and faced a total of 96 shots in total over the course of the two-game series.
With the win, Selkirk will host the 2014 BCIHL Championships in Castlegar beginning Friday, March 14th at 7:30 PM. The finals will follow the same best-of-three format with Game 2 set for Saturday at 7:30 PM and Game 3, if necessary, scheduled for Sunday at 6:00 PM. The Saints’ opponent will be determined on Sunday evening when Simon Fraser University and Trinity Western University meet in a third and deciding game in their semi-final series.