The learning for student athletes on the Selkirk College Saints doesn’t stop when they leave class for the rink and there was plenty of lessons to soak in after coming away with a pair of wins at home against the University of Victoria Vikes.
The Saints ran their British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) regular season record to a perfect 8-0 after thumping the Vikes 7-0 on Friday night and escaping with a 3-2 overtime win on Saturday at the Castlegar & District Recreation Complex.
“On the teaching side of it, Saturday’s game was a better game for teaching, instructing, learning and growing,” says Saints head coach Brent Heaven. “Friday’s game was obviously a great game to watch because of the skillset and the way we played the game was as we had depicted it pre-game and were working on all week in preparation. There’s learning in both and that is an important element as the season progresses.”
The Saints started the weekend with an offensive onslaught that began when Derek McPhail put away the game’s first goal just over six minutes in when he finished a tic-tac-toe passing play with Derek Georgopoulos and captain Dallas Calvin. Veteran Saints forward Dane Feeney gave his side a 2-0 advantage before the end of the first 20 minutes when he put away a juicy rebound.
In the second period, the Saints peppered Vikes starter Michael Fredrick with 21 shots that resulted in goals by defenceman Gordon Campbell, Georgopoulos and Grant Iles. In the final frame, McPhail scored his league leading ninth goal of the season and rookie Logan Kerner notched his first ever BCIHL goal to complete the scoring.
Saints starting goaltender and Castlegar native Patrick Zubick was the less busy of the two goaltenders, but came up with several key saves in the second period to preserve his first ever BCIHL shutout before a supportive home crowd.
“From start to finish on Friday night we played a really solid game, it was as close to a 60-minute effort that we’ve put forth this year,” says Heaven. “It showed with a 7-0 score and the way we shut them down when they did have any opportunities.”
On Saturday night, the Vikes showed they were not going to be sent back to Vancouver Island without a fight. Calvin scored early in the first period on the powerplay, but UVIC quickly tied it up when Landen Matechuk beat Saints’ starter Brett Huber. Late in the second period, Brett Lervold scored on the powerplay to give the visitors a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.
“Everybody realized after two periods that we hadn’t put our best step forward for the most part,” says Heaven. “In the third period we came out and played really solid where we played the game we wanted to play from the start.”
Selkirk College second-year forward Jack Mills scored eight minutes into the third period and despite firing 19 shots on the Victoria net, Vikes goaltender Alec Dillon thwarted the attack with stellar play to force overtime. In the three-on-three overtime period, the Vikes were caught with too many men and a delayed penalty was indicated by the official. After Huber hustled to the bench, Calvin hopped on the ice for the extra attacker where he was able to harness the puck and draw a pair of UVIC players. Calvin found Feeney open in front of the Victoria net with a perfect pass and the shifty forward scored a highlight reel goal for the game winner.
“Saturday’s game proved a lot of things to the boys,” says Heaven. “It doesn’t matter who you are playing against, if you are not fully prepared to battle then a game can get away from you early. We were able to get back into it and give ourselves a chance to win, but that isn’t always going to happen. So a game like Saturday night is definitely a better learning opportunity because you have some adversity and challenges that you need to overcome.”
With more lessons now learned, the Saints will face their stiffest contest of the year on Friday night when the Trinity Western University Spartans arrive to the Castlegar & District Recreation Complex. The Spartans currently sit six points back of first-place Selkirk College with a 5-2 record.
“I’m excited for this game and the boys are excited about it,” says Heaven. “We haven’t faced Trinity this year and it will be good test. They have had some good early success, they have a lot of key returning players and they have some really good recruits.”
Friday night’s game will be the last home date of the first semester. The puck drops at the Castlegar arena at 7 p.m.