After scoring all three goals in a 3-1 victory in Game 1 of the BC Intercollegiate Hockey League final Friday, Selkirk College forward Ryan Edwards would net the winner on Saturday to propel the Saints to their third straight title with a 4-2 win over Simon Fraser University at the Castlegar Rec Complex.
“It’s a really satisfying feeling to see the guys finish the season this way after all the work they put in,” Selkirk head coach Alex Evin told Selkirk media rep Bob Hall. “We played a really committed, disciplined style tonight and all through playoffs and we were rewarded for that. We kept shifts short, we were smart with the puck and we didn’t give up anything easy on the defensive side.”
Former Trail Smoke Eater Darnell Dyck intercepted a failed clearing attempt and hit Edwards at the side of the net for a tap in to put the Saints up 3-1 with 3:12 left in the period. It was the former Beaver Valley Nitehawk’s sixth playoff goal in four games to lead all BCIHL shooters.
“It was an unlucky play by their player and the puck hopped off his stick,” says Dyck, who was the Saints top scorer during the regular season and added four more points during playoffs. “I had a lot of space and I was thinking shot, but I saw Eddy and moved it over to him. He’s a great player and he scored so many big goals for us, so I knew he was going to finish it off.”
Thomas Hardy opened the scoring on a fine individual effort on the power play, taking a pass from Jamie Vlanich and making a move to the slot then backhanding it by SFU goalie Jordan Liem. But SFU’s Jared Eng would draw the Clan even four minutes into the middle frame, before Trail native Vlanich put the Saints up 2-1 on a nice pass from Lucas Hildebrand.
After Edwards made it 3-1, the Saints would stifle the SFU attack in the third with the Saints Ryan Procyshin scoring into an empty net, before SFU made it 4-2 with just 20 seconds left on the clock.
Selkirk College outshot the Clan 28-23, as Saints goalie James Prigone won his fourth consecutive playoff game.
Vlanich was the games’ first star, while Prigone and Hardy garnered second and third star honours. Selkirk beat UVic in two straight games last weekend, while SFU dispatched the heavily favoured number-one seed Trinity Western University to set up the BCIHL final.
The Saints appeared far from championship contention early in the season, as injuries and a spotty road record held the team close to the bottom of the league standings. But the squad finished off the fall semester on a high when they won their first-ever game against CIS competition at the University of Lethbridge and went on to earn home-ice advantage in the playoffs with a strong second half.
“We had a group that came together when it mattered most and really rose to the occasion,” says Evin. “Tonight we got great games from Jamie Vlanich and Ryan Procyshyn, and Ryan Edwards showed why he was our MVP over the last three months.
“James Prigione was rock solid and very consistent, which you need that when you’re playing close games in the playoffs.”
The championship win was the third in as many years for a core of key players that included team captain and former Smoke Eater Logan Proulx as well as forwards Hardy and Mason Spear and blueliner Hildebrand. It also marked the second title in as many tries for forward Dyck, defencemen Stefan Gonzales, Tanner Lenting, Procyshyn, Stefan Virtanen and Arie Postmus, plus goaltender Prigione.
Tonight’s win marked the final time that many in that group will suit up in a Saints uniform. They couldn’t have asked for a better send-off.
“I want to thank Selkirk College, (athletics director) Kim Verigin and the coaches who gave me the opportunity to have two tremendous seasons here,” says Dyck, who plans on joining the RCMP once the school year concludes. “I got to play with some amazing players and win two championships with great teammates. It was an unbelievable experience.”
With files from Selkirk College.