Swiston's OT winner lifts Saints to second consecutive BCIHL title
For the second year in a row, the road to the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League title goes through the Selkirk Saints.
The Saints clinched the BCIHL title for the second consecutive Saturday night in Castlegar, by stopping the Trinity Western University Spartans 3-2 in overtime.
Scott Swiston scored 10 seconds in to overtime to end the game and give the Saints their 20th win of the year and 12th win in the past 13 games.
The victory pushed the Saints (20-3-1) one point ahead of Simon Fraser University (19-3-2) and into sole possession of first place in the league standings.
It also sets up a first round playoff series against Thompson Rivers University that will begin on home ice Friday.
“Finishing in first place was an objective of ours from the beginning of the season, so we’re glad to have met that goal,” said Saints head coach Jeff Dubois.
“It didn’t come easy; we basically had to go the last six weeks without any margin for error. But we have a group that takes a lot of pride in their ability to come through in big moments, and we saw that again tonight.”
Colin Minardi opened the scoring for Selkirk midway through the first period when we took a pass off the rush from linemate Darnell Dyck and fired a shot over the glove of Spartans’ goaltender Silas Matthys.
The score remained 1-0 for the hosts well into the second period when TWU captain Brad Bakken blasted a point shot through traffic and past Saints starter Chris Hurry just after the expiration of a Spartans power-play. But it took little time for Selkirk to reply, as Mason Spear tucked a shot just under the crossbar from in tight to give his team a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.
The Saints had a number of chances to score an insurance goal in the third but were foiled repeatedly by Matthys. And that lack of finish came back to bite Selkirk later in the frame, as Spartans blueliner Blair Murphy broke in down the left wing and beat Hurry with a wrist shot high to the glove to tie the game. The remaining 13 minutes of regulation solved nothing, but the single point was enough to ensure a first place finish for Selkirk.
“At the same time you have to tip your cap to Matthys, who was tremendous, and to their whole group,” Dubois said of the TWU netminder.
“TWU competes hard and plays the game the right way. Barret Kropf and his staff have really turned that program around this season and it’s been impressive to see.”
TWU’s goaltender made 48 saves in the loss while Hurry stopped 18 shots and picked up his team-record 14th win for Selkirk.
The Saints will open the 2014 BCIHL playoffs on Friday night when TRU visits Castlegar for the first time since October.
All games in the best-of-three series will be played in Castlegar.
The full schedule can be found at www.GoSaints.ca.