The fate of home-ice advantage to start the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) playoffs will come down to the final game of the regular season for Selkirk College Saints after downing the Simon Fraser University Clan 3-2 in an overtime thriller.
With the race for second-place on the line Saturday night at the Castlegar & District Recreation Complex, first-year forward Brandon Sookro netted the OT winner 21 seconds into the extra frame to give the Saints the advantage over the Clan who remain tied with Selkirk College in the standings.
Selkirk College Saints forward Brandon Sookro breaks through the Simon Fraser University Clan defence on Saturday night during a vital 3-2 overtime win. Sookro scored a goal late in the third period to tie the game and then netted the OT winner 21 seconds into the extra frame.
“I saw it was going to be a two-on-one and Parker [Wakaruk] is good at shooting off the pad, so I drove the net. I was at the right place at the right time,” Sookro said outside a jubilant Saints’ dressing room after the game.
Playoff Atmosphere Takes Over
His teammates call him “Sook,” but given his knack for scoring important goals so far this season they might want to change it to “Clutch.” With time running out in the third period and his team trailing 2-1, Sookro gathered a puck behind the SFU net with six minutes left in the final frame and proceeded to wrap the puck around past a surprised Lyndon Stanwood to tie the game.
In the three-on-three overtime period, Sookro converted the Wakaruk rebound for his 13th goal of the season and second game winner.
“That was the biggest game of the year so far, we really needed that one to keep us in the hunt for home-ice in the first round,” said Saints’ captain Dallas Calvin. “Now we have the next biggest game coming up, it’s in our hands.”
Saints forward Parker Sharp works hard in the Simon Fraser zone during the second period of Saturday night's game in Castlegar.
On Saturday night, the Saints fell behind early when Mac Colasimone’s dangles led to a powerplay goal after successfully beating Selkirk College starter Patrick Zubick. The score remained 1-0 after the first 20 minutes in an intense game that had the feel of a post-season contest.
The Saints evened the score with just over four minutes left in the middle frame when Calvin took a Dane Feeney pass at the blueline, came down the left wing boards and fired a low shot that beat Stanwood.
Six minutes into the third period, Colasimone was sprung on a breakaway and made no mistake beating Zubick blocker side to give the visitors the 2-1 advantage. With just over eight minutes left in regulation time, Zubick then made a spectacular save when he dove across the crease to keep SFU’s hope for an insurance marker off the scoresheet. The game-saver then set the scene for Sookro’s heroics.
“This win was absolutely important,” said Sookro, who grew up playing in the Nelson Minor Hockey Association. “If we win the next game we get home-ice. So we can build off this win in practice this week and then ride that into the playoffs.”
Another Must-Win for Student Athletes
The Saints and Clan currently sit tied in the standings with identical 16-6-0-2 records and one game remaining. If both teams win their final regular season game, the Saints will come out on top thanks to the 3-2 advantage in the season series. The Saints host Vancouver Island University this Saturday night Castlegar, a team they hold a 3-1 advantage over so far this season.
The Selkirk College bench cleared 21 seconds into overtime when Brandon Sookro scored the game-winner after depositing a rebound into Simon Fraser net.
The math is simple for the Saints, two points for a win on Saturday night and they will host Simon Fraser in the BCIHL semi-final which will take place March 9 to 11.
“The playoffs are a three-game series and we have the chance to have all three at home, that’s a huge advantage,” said Calvin, who currently leads the BCIHL in scoring. “The message in the dressing room is that we need to do everything in our power to get that home ice and I know this weekend the boys are going to battle for it.”
The puck drops on Saturday night (March 3) at 7 p.m. at the Castlegar & District Recreation Complex.