The student athletes on the Selkirk College Saints have shown great promise in the opening third of the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) season, but there is plenty to learn before the final playoff test arrives in March.
The Saints split their home weekend set with the Trinity Western University Spartans to remain atop the league standings as they build towards taking a shot at a fifth straight BCIHL championship. The Spartans took the Friday night game 4-3 and the Saints rebounded on Saturday to claim a 3-2 victory.
Selkirk College Saints rookie forward Wade Johnson battles along the boards in Friday night’s British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League game against the Trinity Western University Spartans in Castlegar. The Saints split the weekend series with their rivals from the Lower Mainland.
“It was a tough start for us on Friday, we put ourselves in a fairly sizable hole,” said Saints head coach Brent Heaven. “It’s obviously a good learning experience for the guys that you need to be prepared to start at the very beginning of the game and not ten minutes in. The overall result was really good, we played some really solid hockey in the last 50 minutes. We need to learn from this and be ready every shift if we want to win in this league.”
Comeback Falls Just Short
Trinity Western built a surprising cushion less than 15 minutes into the opening game with three quick goals. Saints sophomore forward Dallas Calvin got one back before the first intermission, but it was an unfamiliar spot to be in for the explosive Selkirk College offence.
Trinity Western notched the only goal of the middle frame when Jarrett Fontaine beat Selkirk College starter Brett Huber. The Saints pushed hard with goals by Calvin and captain Tyler Kerner to cut the deficit to 4-3 five minutes into the final period. A wild finish that included a six-on-four advantage for the Saints to close game did not result in the tying goal as Spartan star goaltender Silas Matthys preserved the win.
Saints third-year forward Ryan Edwards had another solid weekend, earning third star honours on Friday night.
“We have the potential to get ourselves out of any sort of deficit, it’s just a case of having the perseverance and positivity to push through,” Heaven said.
In the rematch Saturday night at the Castlegar & District Recreation Complex, the Saints were first on the board when Calvin scored his third goal of the weekend. The Spartans tied the score before the intermission when Fontaine beat Selkirk College starter Russell Sanderson. After a scoreless second period, Dane Feeney gave the Saints a 2-1 lead seven minutes into the third. Matt Martin made it 3-1 for Selkirk College and despite a TWU goal with six minutes left, Sanderson shut the door.
“He [Sanderson] has a calming influence in the net, he is good with his rebound control and doesn’t tend to panic,” Heaven said of Sanderson, who was named the game’s first star. “He did exactly what we needed, he stabilized the back end and gave the team the opportunity to win.”
Saints on the Right Track
With a five-point weekend, Calvin has built on his rookie-of-the-year campaign last season to become a force for the Saints.
“Dallas is a special player who is gifted offensively,” Heaven said of the Trail-raised forward who is tied for BCIHL scoring lead. “This year he has started to play with a little more of edge and he has found ways to get himself involved a little more physically. He has the skills to put the puck in the net, but it’s not always that type of game that wins it for us.”
Rookie forward Seth Schmidt has been an important contributor on the blueline for the Saints so far this season.
With Fall Semester mid-terms now over for the players, their on-ice learning continues and the final hockey test awaits in a few months.
“We’re on the right on the path,” said Heaven when asked to grade his team at this point of the season. “My expectations are always A-plus, but if I had to give it a letter grade where we are playing right now would be in the B-plus area. We still have work to be done and there is plenty of time to do it. There is progress to be made… maybe we’re not completely satisfied, but we’re happy where we are at this point of the season.”
The Saints have a weekend off and get back into action on November 19 when they host the Eastern Washington University Eagles at the Castlegar & District Recreation Complex. Puck drops at 7:05 p.m.