The Selkirk College Saints will look to three-peat as the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League champion after defeating the University of Victoria Vikings on Saturday in a two-game sweep of the best-of-three semifinal series.
The Saints got by the Vikes 4-3 in a thrilling overtime match in Game 1 Friday, before cruising to a 4-1 victory in Game 2 the next night at the Castlegar Rec Complex.
“There’s something about playoffs… the team gets into this mentality where we want to compete hard and it’s all about work ethic,” defenceman Lucas Hildebrand told Selkirk College correspondent Bob Hall. “It’s fun to be a part of and I’m having a blast.”
The Saints now host the best-of-three BCIHL Championship starting Friday night against the Simon Fraser University Clan. The fourth-seeded Clan upset number-one seed Trinity Western in the other semi-final with two straight wins, giving the number two ranked Saints home ice advantage in the final.
On Saturday, the Saints’ Matt Martin scored the winning goal with 8:45 to play in the second period, snapping a shot from the face off dot over the shoulder of Vikes goalie Scott Legault to give the Saints a 2-1 lead.
The Saints opened the scoring with 1:17 remaining in the first when former Trail Smoke Eater Darnell Dyck hit another former Smokie Logan Proulx with a pass, and the Trail native made no mistake beating the Vikes goalie to make it 1-0 heading into the second.
Cameron Rowat would tie it at 1 midway through the second period, and less than two minutes later Martin would score the eventual winner. Former Beaver Valley Nitehawk Mason Spear would tenaciously win puck control and setup Trail native and former Nelson Leaf Jamie Vlanich to give the Saints a 3-1 lead with just over three minutes to play in the period. Vlanich would return the favour, assisting on Spear’s deflection to ice the game on the power play at 15:33 of the final frame.
“We kept it simple tonight,” said Saints forward Thomas Hardy, who, like Hilderbrand, is in his third season with the Saints. “We went into this game knowing we had a chance to play for the championship at home, so we just kept it simple. It turned out well.”
Selkirk goaltender James Prigone was stellar in net stopping 21 shots, while Legault faced 33 in goal for the Vikes.
On Friday, Trail native Ryan Edwards scored twice including the overtime winner to lift the Saints to the 4-3 victory. Edwards’ deft tip-in on a Tanner Lenting point shot beat Legault and sent the capacity Castlegar crowd into a frenzy.
“Lenting took a shot and I was just off the side of net, it was lucky enough to go off my stick and in,” said Edwards, who won a Kootenay Junior International Hockey League championship with the Beaver Valley Nitehawks last spring in his final season of junior. “It was crazy, the fans were crazy… it was one of the biggest goals I’ve scored.”
After Victoria jumped out to a 1-0 first period lead, Edwards would tie it on the power play, jumping on a Ryan Procyshin rebound and firing it top corner at 15:34 of the second period. A frenzied third period, saw the Saints go up 2-1 on a highlight reel goal from Dyck who scored while being hauled down on a breakaway. Former Nelson Leaf Carson Willans would tie it four minutes later, but Hardy would poke the puck by Legault on a goal-mouth scramble to give the Saints a 3-2 lead. Yet, Victoria would comeback again, when Shawn Mueller wired a shot from the blue line that eluded Prigone with 8:58 to play.
“Not in my wildest dreams would I have thought we would be in this position,” Hildebrand said after Saturday’s game. “When I came here, I didn’t really know what to expect. This third year has really opened up my eyes to how great this program has become. Everybody has done such a great job, starting with [Selkirk College Athletics Director] Kim [Verigin] and [Saints head coach] Alex [Evin], it’s just incredible to be part of it and I’m loving every minute of it.”
Puck drop is at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the Castlegar Rec Complex. Sunday’s game, if necessary, is still to be determined.