It’s been a difficult stretch for the Selkirk College Saints, but as the Winter Semester gets rolling the team is focused on flipping their fortunes during the drive to the post-season.
The Saints opened 2020 with a weekend home series against the undefeated Trinity Western University Spartans where the powerhouse Langley-based team topped the Selkirk College squad 6-3 on Saturday night and 6-4 on Sunday afternoon to keep their British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) record unblemished at 11-0.
The results added to the Saints current eight game losing streak.
“There is a reason that Trinity Western is undefeated so far this season, they are a very good hockey team no question,” said Saints’ head coach Dave Hnatiuk. “I don’t think it was lack of effort, we just had some trouble scoring goals and made too many mistakes. You can’t do that against a team like that.”
The opening weekend of the new year was a reflection of the Saints first semester where they played well, but ultimately couldn’t find the back of the net. Coming into the two-game set against the Spartans, the Saints lost five games in a row by one goal that included three in overtime.
“We’ve talked about what it’s going to take to flip those results… that’s the difference of us scoring on a breakaway or scoring on a two-on-one or one of those shots off the crossbar going in,” said Hnatiuk, who is in first year behind the Saints’ bench. “It’s not from lack of effort or structure. Certainly even more effort will be required in the coming weeks, but if we do the little things right then we can find our way out of these struggles.”
With ten games remaining in the regular season, the Saints sit fourth in the BCIHL standings with only a two-point cushion on last place University of Victoria. With the top-four teams making the playoffs, every remaining game will be of vital importance.
The Saints host the second place Vancouver Island University Mariners on Friday and Saturday (January 10/11) night at the Castlegar & District Recreation Centre. With a 1-2 record against the Mariners in the first half of the season, it will be critical series for both teams.
“It’s a huge weekend for us and that will be the case for the rest of the season,” said Hnatiuk. “This is a team we need to catch in the standings and we need to make sure we secure a playoff spot. It’s going to be a battle and we are going to have to push to ensure we get those points.”
Despite the current losing streak and the challenges ahead, the mood in Saints camp remains positive.
“You get frustrated with the losses and obviously it doesn’t sit well with the guys in the dressing room,” Hnatiuk said. “But this team believes that we can peak at the right time and have a big push down the stretch.”
The Friday and Saturday night games in Castlegar start at 7 p.m.