The Selkirk College Saints men’s hockey team took their game to the next level on a road trip east this past weekend and discovered they can hold their own against Canadian Inter-university Sport (CIS) competition.
In a special pre-Christmas journey, the Saints traveled to Lethbridge, Alberta to take on the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns in a two-game exhibition series. Playing against a team with a line-up stacked with former major junior players, the Saints showed they can compete with a 4-3 win on Friday night and a 5-1 loss on Saturday.
“Our game plan was to go after them and not sit back,” said Saints head coach Alex Evin. “We scored first on Friday night and just built confidence from there. It was a fun game to be a part of and the biggest win for our hockey program to this day.”
Facing former Saints’ netminder Alex Sirard — who backstopped Selkirk to its first British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) title in 2012-13 — the visitors came out flying. Selkirk’s Tyler Kerner opened the scoring early in the first and despite Lethbridge answering before the opening frame ended, the Saints outshot their opponents 11-8.
Five minutes into the middle period, Saints’ captain Logan Proulx made it 2-1 when he put away a nice pass from Darnell Dyck. Alex Milligan continued his strong play and gave the Saints a 3-1 lead before the end of the second period.
Early in the third, Kerner’s second goal of the night gave Selkirk a 4-1 lead. Benefitting from powerplay opportunities, the Pronghorns fought their way back with a strong push and scored two goals. Saints’ goaltender James Prigione stood tall in the final period, eventually turning away 33 shots in the game and preserving the victory.
“Tyler Kerner had a tremendous game and had a lot of family and friends in the stands,” said Evin. “James Prigione was also a standout and provided a calming presence on the back end when the Pronghorns pushed back. James had great rebound control all night.”
Bent on revenge, on Saturday night the Pronghorns were determined to even up the weekend. The teams exchanged goals in the first period, with Dyck getting the marker for the Saints. But in the second period, the Pronghorns scored three unanswered goals to put Selkirk in a hole they could not dig themselves out of in the third.
The intent of the first ever foray into CIS territory was to provide the Selkirk College players an intimate look at hockey at the university level. With five years of post-secondary eligibility available to players, one of the goals of the Saints’ program is to move players onto the next level to complete their studies and hockey careers.
In that capacity, the weekend was a major victory for the Saints organization.
“We learned a lot from our two games against U of L,” said Evin. “In Friday’s win, all of our details were magnified in our systems and our players did a good job of understanding and recognizing that. It was nice to see our group buy in and play a tremendous road game.”
The Saints will now take a break for the exam/holiday season. They will return to action on January 9 and 10 at the Castlegar Recreation Complex where they will take on first place Trinity Western University. The Saints—who are two-time defending BCIHL champions—currently sit tied for third in the five-team league.