The Selkirk College Saints’ pursuit of a fourth straight British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) title begins in earnest this Friday night against the Trinity WesternSpartans.
With the second semester of play underway, the three-time defending league champions begin a string of five straight home games at the Castlegar & District Recreation Centre wherethey hope to get a firm grasp on the top seed heading into the post-season.
“This team certainly has what it takes to become champions once again,” says Saints head coach Brent Heaven. “There’s still plenty of work to be done and we are going to get better,but we have put ourselves in a great position to compete with any team in this league.”
The Saints currently sit one point back of Simon Fraser University (SFU) for first place in the BCIHL standings. The team is coming off a big 7-3 Saturday night win against EasternWashington University in Cheney, Washington where the powerplay got hot with five goals on seven opportunities.
Earlier this month the team traveled to the Lower Mainland where they took part in the BCIHL University Showcase. The Saints beat both Trinity Western and the University of Victoria,but fell 4-3 to SFU in an entertaining game that was decided in a shootout.
“The showcase gave us a good opportunity to get a focused look at where we are at this point in the season,” says Heaven. “All three games featured excellent hockey and our guysshowed that we can win on any given night. There were also a lot of scouts in the stands taking a look at how our players might fit into another program once they graduate fromSelkirk College. Our guys certainly gave them something to think about.”
The trio of Dallas Calvin, Jamie Vlanich and Ryan Edwards continue to lead the way offensively for the Saints. All three West Kootenay-raised forwards are in the top-five of leaguescoring, but Heaven says the team’s depth is what stands out.
“It’s fun to watch these young men perform on the ice,” says Heaven. “But championship teams are not built with one line or three individual players. It’s a luxury as a coach to be ableto roll four lines and know that every single player has the ability to make an important contribution each time they are out there. Most importantly, our play in our own zone has beendeveloping well, we are fortunate to have such a strong defensive core and great goaltending.”
Trinity Western currently sits third in the league, but are last season’s defending regular season champions. Heaven expects an entertaining game on Friday night.
“When we played them earlier this month, it was a great battle,” says Heaven. “They have one of the top goaltenders in the league [Silas Matthy] who is able to withstand our constantattack on offence. It took a powerplay goal by Ashton McLeod midway through the third period to get the win. I’m expecting another great game and this will be an important test as wemake our way to the playoffs.”
The BCIHL post-season begins on the March 11-13 weekend. Friday night’s game at the Castlegar & District Recreation Centre begins at 7 p.m.