The Selkirk College Saints added a trio of top-notch players over the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) holiday break that will bolster the team’s presence on the ice heading into the second half of the season.
The new additions include goaltender Tallon Kramer, forward Logan Styler and defenceman Cole Arcuri from Nelson. All three have local roots and a resume of excellence in junior hockey.
“We’re obviously excited to have these three young men join our program,” says Saints coach Brent Heaven. “They are going to make us stronger and the competitiveness within the group is going to increase. We have more depth now, so with the inevitable adversity that you face, we are now better equipped to work through it.”
In his final season in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL), Kramer backstopped the Beaver Valley Nitehawks to a tremendous 2016-2017 season that saw the Fruitvale-based team capture the league championship and the Cyclone Taylor Cup. Kramer and the Nighthawks lost an overtime heartbreaker to the Wainwright Bisons in last spring’s Keystone Cup that determines Western Canada’s top Junior B team.
Styler grew up in the Prince George area, but in 2013-2014 came to play in the KIJHL with the Creston Valley Thunder Cats. He finished his Junior B career with the Castlegar Rebels where he led the league in scoring last season with 26 goals and 54 assists.
Arcuri grew up in Nelson and played on both the Kootenay Ice Midget AAA team and the Nelson Leafs in the KIJHL. The 21-year-old blueliner also counts three seasons of Junior A experience with the Powell River Kings and Merritt Centennials.
“You are always looking to improve your program, not just for this season but into the future,” Heaven says of the three additions. “We want to win a championship and by adding these three players it only increases our chances.”
The Saints didn’t add the new players due to weakness in the first semester line-up. The team blazed out to a perfect 10-0 start to the season before suffering their first loss in mid-November to the Trinity Western University Spartans. The Saints dominate league scoring leaders with captain Dallas Calvin 13 points ahead in top spot and Derek McPhail, Parker Sharp and Dane Feeney also in the top-10. Goaltenders Brett Huber and Patrick Zubick had a solid first semester, both currently leading the league in save percentage.
Even though all three newcomers come with impressive backgrounds, Heaven says they need to earn their spots in the line-up and their ice time during games.
“When you add a player mid-season, the first thing is that you need to show your teammates that you are here for them and willing to do whatever it takes to be a good teammate,” Heaven says.
The first major test of the second semester for all the Saints starts at home this coming weekend when Trinity Western visits the Castlegar & District Recreation Complex on Friday and Saturday. The Spartans currently trail the first place Saints by three points in the standings with one game in-hand. The Langley-based team will arrive the West Kootenay riding a five-game winning streak. The Saints entered the break with a 2-2-0-1 record in their last five games which were all played on the road.
“It’s a really tough opening weekend, Trinity Western is a very good team and this will be an important start to the second semester,” Heaven says. “We will play the aggressive game we have developed over the year and as the season progresses we will be making improvements as we go along.”
The playoffs will start in early-March where the Saints will be looking to return the BCIHL Championship to Castlegar where it lived for four seasons between 2013 and 2016.
“We’re still involved in the process of developing towards an end goal,” Heaven says of his team’s strategy for the last 11 regular season games. “It was a long holiday break and that is difficult for conditioning and to get your touch back, but we will pick up on competing every night and working towards our strategy to succeed in our ultimate goal of a championship.”
The Saints will take on Trinity Western both Friday and Saturday night (January 12 and 13) with the puck drop at 7 p.m. Both games will feature a food drive to help the Selkirk College Food Bank. Fans are asked to bring non-perishable food items to help out students and those who donate will be entered to win a Saints prize pack.