The Selkirk College Saints first western swing of the season provided four valuable points as the team returned to the West Kootenay with a pair of wins over British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) rivals.
The Saints ran their 2017-2018 regular season record to 6-0 with an impressive 6-1 victory over the University of Victoria Vikes on Friday night and hard fought 6-3 decision over the Vancouver Island University Mariners on Saturday.
“The biggest factor this last weekend is that the players are starting to buy-in as a group to the systems that we want to play and the type of game we want to contribute in,” says Saints head coach Brent Heaven. “It’s really showing results at this point of the season.”
On Friday night in Victoria, the teams played an even opening period with seven shots each and no goals. In the middle frame, the Saints shook off the bus-legs and exploded for five goals. Captain Dallas Calvin started the flurry seven minutes into the period and then Derek Georgopoulos, Dane Feeney with two in less than two minutes, and Devin Nemes added to the onslaught.
The Vikes came out strong in the third period, firing 12 shots on Saints’ starter Patrick Zubick who stood tall and only surrendered a single goal. First-year Saints forward Brandon Sookro, in his first regular season game, added the sixth Selkirk College tally.
On Saturday night in Nanaimo, Calvin once again got the team’s offence rolling midway through the first period when he scored the game’s first goal. The Saints then built a 6-1 lead after 40 minutes with goals by Derek McPhail, Gordon Campbell, Calvin’s second, Grant Iles and Sookro.
The Mariners attempted a comeback in the final frame and managed two goals, but Saints’ starter Brett Huber turned away 13 third period shots to preserve the victory. Calvin had a whopping five points on the night.
“Our goaltending has been an important part of the success so far with both Brett [Huber] and Patrick [Zubick] playing fantastic and giving us opportunities to win every night,” says Heaven.
The two wins put Selkirk College comfortably in top spot in the BCIHL standings, but the coach is not allowing the team to get overconfident.
“It’s all about maintaining the focus,” says Heaven. “We have had success to this point, but that can quickly turn around. We need to continue to work on the systems and build the mentality of the work ethic. Things are going to come up over the course of the season, it’s about having the poise and confidence in your teammates and yourself that we can get through anything.”
The Saints now prepare for a double-header against the University of Victoria at the Castlegar & District Recreation Centre this Friday and Saturday night (November 3 and 4). For hockey fans, this year’s edition of the Saints is one to see with a solid four-line attack that is ripe with excitement.
“We’ve had some games where there has been a slow start, but this group continues to battle back and continue to press,” Heaven says of the tenacity that wears down the opposition. “We have a room full of character guys, it doesn’t matter what the score is or where we are in the season, it’s all about giving your best effort every shift. When you do that, the guys get more confidence and when they get more confidence then the skillset starts to grow.”
The puck drops both nights at the Castlegar arena at 7 p.m.