With the Selkirk College Men’s Hockey program now 10 games deep into the 2012/13 B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League regular season and facing their lone weekend off during the fall semester, there’s time to look back at what has been a historic start for this year’s Saints squad following an offseason full of change.
With an incoming recruiting class loaded with experienced Junior A and B players, expectations coming in to training camp were high for Selkirk to improve on their 5-19 record of a year ago and compete for a place in the BCIHL postseason for the first time.
But few would have predicted that the Saints would win their first 10 league games and take a firm grip on top spot in the league standings early in the season, particularly given the time needed to integrate 22 new players into their line-up and develop chemistry amongst a group featuring only four returnees.
“Our staff and players all expected a strong start to the season, especially after having spent a couple of weeks together during training camp and seeing the skill level and work ethic of our group,” says Saints head coach Jeff Dubois. “But it’s safe to say that the number of wins we’re at now and the types of scores we’ve hung on the board have exceeded even our highest expectations.”
Dubois credits the leadership of the team’s four returning players – team captain Jordan Wood along with Sandro Moser, Nick Cecconi and Justin Sotkowy – and first-year assistant captains Logan Proulx, Scott Swiston and Dylan Smith for setting a positive tone early in training camp.
“We’re very fortunate to have a player of Jordan’s skill and character leading the way,” Dubois says. “He’s the top player in our league right now by any measure you can think of, and on top of that he’s one of the hardest working guys you’ll find. He went through some tough times in terms of wins and losses with this team last year and you can see that every day he’s fully invested in leading us to a great season.”
Wood currently tops all BCIHL scorers with 13 goals, 26 points and a 2.6 points/game average. And he has lots of company amongst his teammates atop the league’s scoring charts as Saints currently occupy the top nine places, though with the benefit of having played a BCIHL-high 10 games.
With an average of 6.9 goals per game for and just 2.5 against, the Saints lead the BCIHL in both categories. They’ve also chalked up league-best totals on special teams, with a power-play efficiency of 28.8% and a success rate on the penalty kill of 90.3%.
In goal, Selkirk has been led by former WHL netminder Alex Sirard, who has won all six of his starts while posting a 2.07 goals-against average and .927 save-percentage. Those numbers lead all BCIHL backstops who have played three or more regular season games.
“When we’ve had breakdowns, our three goaltenders – Alex, Stephen (Wolff) and Chris (Hurry) – have all been excellent,” says Dubois. “But we’ve also played some good defence in front of them and limited the number of shots and scoring chances most nights.”
Despite the hot start, Dubois is cautious in predicting continued success.
“We play in a very competitive league, and even though we’ve been out in front of the pack a bit you have to expect that other good teams are working hard to close that gap. The success we’ve had has come because as a group we’ve played a certain way; we’ve worked hard, moved the puck well, got bodies to the net and taken advantage of the opportunities we’ve generated,” he said.
“We need to stick to that gameplan, and also work to get better in practice on a daily basis. When you’re in first there’s a target on you every night, and in each game you get an opponent’s best effort. I don’t think anybody is going to take Selkirk lightly now, which may have been the case early in the season.”
The Saints have two games remaining on their fall calendar before a lengthy break for college exams and holidays. Eastern Washington is first up on Saturday, November 24th, followed by the University of Victoria on Saturday, December 1st. Both games will be played at the Castlegar Rec Complex at 7:30 PM.