A boisterous home crowd and pre-game banner raising ceremony fuelled the Selkirk College Saints to a convincing 5-1 victory over the Eastern Washington University Eagles on Friday night at the Castlegar Community Recreation Complex.
Returning to the comforts of home ice after a rough regular season start that saw the Saints drop all three games on the road, the two-time defending BC Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) champions got back on track.
With a crowd of more than 500 in attendance, the Saints raised the 2013-14 BCIHL banner to the rafters of the Complex and then went to work at showing why they are a threat for a three-peat.
“We had our best practices of the year in this last week, just going back to the basics and working hard,” said veteran defenceman and Fruitvale native Arie Postmus after the game. “Our first three games of the season were unacceptable and we lost our identity a bit, but I thought tonight with the ceremony at the start it helped show all the guys what we are here for and it got us going for the whole night.”
Looking nothing like a team that entered the game in last place in the BCIHL standings, the Saints came out flying. Just over three minutes into the opening period, hulking forward Jackson Garrett pounced on a rebound and put it past EWU starter Austin Brihn.
The Saints dominated the first 20 minutes, but could only solve Brihn once.
However, four minutes into the second period, former Trail Smoke Eater captain Logan Proulx finished a nice passing play with another former Smokie, Darnell Dyck, to give the home side a 2-0 advantage.
Working on the team’s top line with Proulx and Dyck, Garrett finished off his hat trick early in the third period with another rebound 50 seconds in and then a nice deflection two minutes later on the power play.
Just over four minutes into the final period EWU’s Chase Wharton got the Eagles on the board, but Saints’ newcomer Alex Milligan closed out the scoring with a power play goal with five minutes remaining in the game.
Garrett—who was returning from a rib injury that kept out of the first three games—was named the game’s first star.
The Saints will travel to Langley on Friday to play Trinity Western University and return home to the Castlegar Recreation Complex on Saturday night for a rematch against EWU. The puck drops on Saturday at 7 p.m.