Though it’s a month away from the start of the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) post season, the Selkirk College Saints had a taste of playoff hockey Friday night at the Castlegar Recreation Complex.
With time ticking down on the regular season, the two-time defending BCIHL champion Saints locked horns with the Simon Fraser University Clan in a key stretch drive contest before a raucous home crowd. Despite a valiant effort, the Saints were edged 2-1 in overtime.
“We’re in good shape moving forward, despite the shootout loss,” said Saints head coach Alex Evin. “We have games in hand on both Simon Fraser and the University of Victoria as we all battle for the last home ice seed. It was a playoff-like game against SFU and it was good for us to play at that intensity for 65 minutes. This game will help us moving forward over the next month.”
Saints Nation was out in strong force again and hockey fans were not disappointed as both teams battled hard in a fast, hard hitting contest that resembled playoff hockey at the highest level.
After a scoreless first period, speedy Saints forward Alex Milligan put the home team on the board on the powerplay in the second frame. Thomas Hardy and Mason Spear assisted on the play.
The Saints carried the slim lead deep into the third period keeping the pressure on SFU netminder Jordan Liem, but they couldn’t solve him after numerous near misses in close. It came back to haunt the Saints as Mathew Berry-Lamontagna scored for the Clan with just over five minutes left.
After five minutes of a scoreless four-on-four overtime period, a shootout was required to finalize a winner.
Saints goalie James Prigione stopped Jono Ceci on the first breakaway attempt. Hardy scored on his try to put the Saints up 1-0, but that was as all the Saints could muster as Nick Sandor and Berry-Lamontagna scored for SFU while Darnell Dyck and Milligan missed for the Saints.
Friday’s outcome was bittersweet for the Saints Alumni as they came to celebrate their playing days, which for some dated back to 1971-72. In total, 15 alumni from the 1970s were able to attend and they were honoured in a pre-game ceremony.
The Saints Alumni weekend also included a hospitality room complete with numerous displays of photos and memorabilia. On Saturday, the itinerary included a college tour and alumni game at the Pioneer Arena in Castlegar which was home for the Saints back in the 1970s.
Following the alumni game, there was a barbecue and social where old and new Saints had a chance to connect, tell stories and share in their experience of being a Selkirk College student-athlete.
“I’m in awe at how these guys, after 40 years, still speak so fondly of their experience with Saints hockey,” said Kim Verigin, Selkirk College Athletic Director. “I’m hoping we can continue the trend and that every student-athlete who comes through the door is given the tools to move on in their career path while at the same is able to build relationships and memories that will last a lifetime.”
The Saints final regular season home game is against Eastern Washington University on February 13 starting at 7 p.m. at the Castlegar Recreation Complex with the The Goat radio station as the game night sponsor.
The Saints final four games will be on the road at Eastern Washington and UVIC. Playoffs begin March 6 when the higher seed of first versus fourth and second versus third will host.
SAINTS NOTES: Forward Darnell Dyck was awarded the Mallard’s Source for Sports Player of the Month honours after earning five goals and six assists for 11 points in five games through January. Dyck currently leads all Saints players with 26 points in 19 games…. Ryan Edwards was named BCIHL Rookie of the Month for January for his 10 points in five games (four goals and six assists)…. Jamie Vlanich, who has yet make an appearance this year due to knee surgery may make his debut this coming weekend in a home-and-home series versus EWU. Vlanich led the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) in scoring last year with 97 points while playing for the Nelson Leafs…. The Saints announced Tuesday that they have signed Troy Maclise of the KIJHL’s Osoyoos Coyotes. Maclise is currently fifth in KIJHL scoring and his team is first overall in the league.