It looked like the BC Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) playoffs had already started, when the Selkirk College Saints faced off against the Trinity Western University Spartans on Friday at the Castlegar Complex.
The Saints and Spartans played a spirited and physical 60 minutes, then skated into overtime tied at two. With one minute and 54 seconds to play, TWU forward Jamie Russell took a lucky bounce off the back boards and shovelled it by Selkirk goalie James Prigione for the 3-2 OT victory.
“It’s an eye-opener and that’s important at this stage of the season,” Saints head coach Brent Heaven told Selkirk College communications rep Bob Hall. “It shows our guys that the game isn’t going to always be wide open and you have to be able to play in different styles of games.”
The loss was just the Saints second at home this year, but the single point put them in a tie for top spot in the league with SFU, who lost to UVic 6-4 Friday. The Saints look to win the BCIHL title for the fourth year in a row. TWU, meanwhile, pulled to within a point of Selkirk in third place with 23 points.
Trail native Ryan Edwards opened the scoring 1:47 into the first period, gathering a pass from Dallas Calvin and firing the puck by TWU goalie Aaron Oakley. The Saints then went up 2-0 on defenceman Cody Bardock’s second of the season and fifth point in five games, then held the lead through the second period despite being outshot 11-5 in the period.
The close checking game continued until the seven minute mark when Blair Murphy capitalized on the power play, tipping a Florian Neidermayer shot past Prigione to cut the lead to one.
Then with 88 seconds left on the clock, Ryan Bakken converted a Jamie Keller set up to make it 2-2 and send it to overtime, and Russell’s heroics.
The Spartans were effective in limiting the usually formidable offensive talents of Calvin, Edwards, and Jamie Vlanich to just three points on the night, and Saints coach Heaven thought it was a good lesson for the team to learn as it heads into its final six games of the season.
“Trinity Western really keyed on our top players and it’s good for our team because it shows what we are going to be facing when the playoffs come,” Heaven said. “It’s not going to be the wide open run-and-gun, it will be more a defensive battle and the in-the-trenches style of game. It gives us an idea of where we need to be and what kind of work we need to get in order to get ourselves properly prepared for the playoff run.”
Former Trail Smoke Eater and Beaver Valley Nitehawk Dallas Calvin picked up two assists on the night and leads the team in scoring with 14 goals and 28 points, three points back of Eastern Washington University’s Beau Walker for the league lead.