The ceremonial puck drop featured several former Saints including Trail native Logan Proulx (middle with the puck) and current captain, also a Trail product, Dallas Calvin (right), who took the faceoff against former Saints captain Tyler Kerner (left) who now plays for VIU. Selkirk College photo

Selkirk College Saints host Mariners in BCIHL playoffs

Game 1 of the BCIHL playoff goes Friday in Castlegar, with the Saints hosting the VIU Mariners

CASTLEGAR — The Selkirk College Saints will begin their pursuit of British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) history at home Friday night when they open the post-season against the Vancouver Island University (VIU) Mariners.

After winning four-straight league championships and establishing the BCIHL gold standard, the Saints’ drive-for-five came to a sudden halt last March when they were knocked out of the playoffs by Trinity Western University. The student-athletes have a shot at redemption when the puck drops on the best-of-three BCIHL semi-final on Friday at 7:30 p.m. against the Mariners at the Castlegar & District Recreation Complex.

“This is what we have been working towards since we pulled this group together in August,” says Saints head coach Brent Heaven. “It’s been a bit of a wild regular season with plenty of ups and downs. Now we have two weeks to show that this team has the right mix to bring a championship back to Castlegar.”

The Saints needed to beat VIU in the last regular season game on Saturday night in Castlegar to ensure a second-place finish and home ice during the first round and the team did just that in a 5-1 Saints victory.

The Saints peppered VIU starting goaltender Brett Clark, who also played for the Trail Smoke Eaters and backstopped the Beaver Valley Nitehawks to a Keystone Cup championship in 2014.

“We’ve had some slow starts this season and it has come back to haunt us,” says Heaven. “The players were not going to leave anything to chance in a game that had such importance.”

Penalty problems in the second period slowed the Saints progress and opened the door for the Mariners who scored late in the stanza when Kobe Oishi beat Selkirk College starter Patrick Zubick on the powerplay to cut the lead to 3-1 after 40 minutes.

The typically feisty game between the two teams became apparent in the third period, but the Saints didn’t lose focus and dominated play with Calvin adding two more goals to make the final 5-1.

“It was great to see the leadership in our dressing room come through in a big game,” says Heaven. “Everyone knew the importance of home ice for the playoffs and it resulted in one of our best efforts of the season.”

Last week, the league announced that the Simon Fraser University Clan forfeited 19 points after it was determined that an ineligible player competed in 11 regular season games. That knocked the Clan — who were destined to be the Saints semi-final opponent — down to fifth place in the standings and moved VIU up to third place.

The Mariners are a first-year BCIHL team but have quickly established a spirited rivalry with the Saints. Several former Saints now suit up for VIU, including last year’s captain Tyler Kerner, which has added an extra level of intensity during their contests. With a 17-8-0-0 record, the Mariners finished four points behind the Saints who finished the season with a record of 18-5-0-2. The season series between the two teams saw the Saints emerge with a 4-1 advantage.

“They are a very good team that exceeded the expectations of many,” says Heaven. “I’m expecting a great series, we will have to play our best hockey of the season if we want to move onto the league championship.”

In the other league semi-final, first-place Trinity Western University will take on defending champion University of Victoria, who were out of the playoff picture until last week’s SFU decision.

“Home ice advantage in the playoffs is massively important for our team because we have the best fans in the league,” says Heaven. “The energy in the arena helps the players on the ice and they are looking forward to this coming weekend.”

Friday night’s Game 1 starts at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday’s game starts at 4 p.m. in order to accommodate the Castlegar Rebels KIJHL playoff game against the Nelson Leafs. If a Game 3 is necessary, it will be played at 5 p.m. on Sunday. All games are at the Castlegar & District Recreation Complex.

The Saints are in pursuit of their fifth BCIHL championship title which would make them the most decorated team in league history.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Destination BC urges residents to rediscover B.C.

Destination BC to stay home and do their part in flattening the curve of COVID-19 in B.C.

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

Renewable energy remains on the Kootenay forefront

Letter to the Editor from Andrew O’Kane

B.C. Alzheimer’s society thanks virtual walkers

On May 31, West Kootenay residents united to support people affected by dementia

Wealth tax needed as gap between rich and poor grows

Cannings: Disparity between super-wealthy and the rest is much greater than previously estimated

Horrifying video shows near head-on collision on Trans Canada

The video was captured on dash cam along Highway 1

Fraser Valley woman complains of violent RCMP takedown during wellness check

Mounties respond that she was not co-operating during Mental Health Act apprehension

B.C. sees 12 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

Three outbreaks exist in health-care settings

COVID-19: B.C. promotes video-activated services card

Mobile app allows easier video identity verification

ICBC to resume road tests in July with priority for rebookings, health-care workers

Tests have been on hold for four months due to COVID-19

Would you take a COVID-19 vaccine? Poll suggests most Canadians say yes

75 per cent of Canadians would agree to take a novel coronavirus vaccine

Budget officer pegs cost of basic income as calls for it grow due to COVID-19

Planned federal spending to date on pandemic-related aid now tops about $174 billion

Sexologist likens face mask debate to condom debate: What can we learn from it?

Society’s approach to condom usage since the 1980s can be applied to face masks today, one expert says

Most Read