From worst to first - Saints capture first BCIHL title with close win over EWU
Selkirk College captured their first-ever B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League regular season title and completed a worst-to-first turnaround in the process on Saturday night with a 3-2 win over Eastern Washington University at the Castlegar Rec Complex.
The victory, combined with an SFU loss to Trinity Western University, assured the Saints no worse than a tie atop the standings and secured first place based on the league's tie-breaking formula. Selkirk has 36 points with five regular season games remaining while Simon Fraser sit four points back with two games yet to play.
Kam Crawford opened the scoring for the Saints on the power-play midway through the first period when his wrist shot from the point found its way through a screen and past Eagles netminder Jason Greenwell. And the hosts doubled their lead four minutes on a similar play, this time with Dylan Smith wristing home from high in the slot with the man-advantage. Eastern replied before intermission, however, as Eagles captain Bret Kellogg's nifty redirect of a Zach Maxwell point shot beat Saints starter Alex Sirard.
The teams traded chances throughout the second, but the period remained scoreless until Connor McLaughlin slammed home a Crawford rebound on yet another Saints power-play with just five seconds remaining in the frame. The goal came just a handful of seconds after Sirard made a breakaway save on Ryan Pajimola with a chance for EWU to tie the game.
Eastern pulled within one early in the third period when Kellogg gathered a puck off the side boards, powered his way to the net and scored from in close. But it was one of the few chances the Eagles would generate during the period, as the Saints out-shot their visitors 13-3 over the final 20 minutes.
"There are games where the score probably doesn't represent the run of play and this was one of those," says Saints head coach Jeff Dubois. "We had a 42-16 advantage in shots on goal and could have had a few more goals. Greenwell was very good in net for Eastern and we weren't great in terms of finishing plays. But overall it was a very strong team effort and a good bounce-back from a poor performance last weekend."
Sirard maintained his perfect record and picked up his 11th win on the season with a 14-save effort. Greenwell was unlucky to take the loss following a 39-save performance.
Crawford, McLaughlin and Cody Fidgett all picked up two points on the night, while Jordan Wood picked up an assist and now holds a 6-point lead over linemate Logan Proulx stop the league scoring charts.
Selkirk and Eastern will wrap their home-and-home weekend series on Sunday when the Saints travel to Cheney, WA for a 3:00 PM face-off. The game can be viewed live on www.fasthockey.com.