The Selkirk College Saints, having closed out 2012 with 12 straight wins to tie a BCIHL Hockey League record, set a record of their own on Saturday night at the Castlegar Community Complex.
Starting one-for-one in 2013 claimed the distinction in front of a packed house of thrilled Saints fans.
The team had not played competitively in quite a while.
The Saints gave it a great effort but just seemed a little out of sync at times in the early going.
That said, they had a good start and when SFU had some penalty trouble Selkirk poured on the shots early, finding out that Clan goalie Graeme Gordon was on his game.
He would prove consistently tough to beat, making one highlight save in particular that was nothing shy of sensational.
The Clan pulled almost even by the end of the period, 11 to the hosts’ 12, more telling was a 1-0 lead on a goal from Trevor Milner, assisted by Bruin McDonald.
The SFU tally seemed to come against the flow of the play as the Saints did more threatening the more they warmed up. The hard-nosed Clan proved quite a handful in the physical department as well.
In period two the visitors went up by two after Logan Proulx (assisted by Jordan Wood) had put Selkirk on the board, with Milner bagging his second on the night and Bruin McDonald’s effort set up by Jesse Mysiorek and Tyler Mah.
“This was our first game since December 1,” stated Selkirk coach Jeff Dubois later outside the winning locker room.
“So we were prepared for a bit of rust.” But the coach said the confidence was there heading into the third. With less than a minute to play before the second intermission, Dylan Smith pulled his team within one, Jordan Wood again getting the assist.
Through the first three quarters of the third period it looked very much like this could be the outcome, what with the strong guardian in the Clan’s crease. In fact, just after the second Selkirk goal to be disallowed, with about five minutes remaining, Gordon was taking on an invincible aura. It was precisely then that the Saints’ Thomas Hardy pumped some frantic life into the complex with a deft deflection assisted by Beau Taylor and Sandro Moser. Less than a minute later – the go-ahead goal by Mason Spear, helped out by Connor McLaughlin and Scott Swiston. The complex went wild as a dejected Gordon lay momentarily on the ice following the winner.
The Saints then closed it out, giving their faithful a euphoric trip home.
“He played a great game,” we were all over him all night and he kept shutting us down,” said a grinning Jordan Wood about the SFU netminder. “Finally we were just able to get to him.”
The team was obviously pleased to get back in action, and ended up with more than 40 shots, roughly double that of their guests.
“Everyone was a little rusty but we worked through it… worked hard… it’s good to see.”
From Coach Jeff Dubois’ vantage point things looked good as well.
“We controlled it for the most part. We were getting pucks on net. We’ve got a group that really doesn’t give up, and they got rewarded for that.”
Down the hall – a counterpoint outside a disappointed SFU room.
“I thought we played well,” said Clan Coach Mark Coletta of the evening. “We had a couple of breakdowns that led to their goals. Gordo was great in the pipes. I thought we had a good team effort, minus a couple of players, guys out of the line-up because of injury and being sick.”
It was a game the Clan would have loved to have won, and they’ll try to earn a different outcome upon their return in early February.
Not only did this win set a record for the Saints, but it put distance between them and the Clan who had been only three points back heading into the Saturday contest after 12 games each.