The Selkirk College Saints turned the intensity notch up to another level Saturday night when they welcomed back four alumni and their new Vancouver Island University Mariners teammates to the Castlegar & District Recreation Centre in British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) action.
In a game with several subplots, the Saints ran their regular season record to 4-0 with a 5-3 victory over the expansion Mariners in front of a raucous hometown crowd.
“It’s a tough building to play in and I never thought I would be on the other end of it… it’s not fun,” said former Saints captain Tyler Kerner, who played three seasons with the Saints where he helped them to championships in 2015 and 2016. “They played hard and we played hard, it was an amazing feeling to come back and play in front of this crowd again.”
After the 2016-2017, Kerner headed west with Alex Milligan, Garrett Halls and Jordan Rauser to join VIU in their inaugural BCIHL season. Coming into the game, the Mariners held a respectable 2-1 record and were looking to steal a couple points on the road.
“If felt like playoff game with the intensity out there,” said Saints’ starting goaltender Brett Huber, who made several key saves to secure the win. “Having a few of the boys come back to see us, it’s still early in the season but there was a lot on the line.”
The Mariners jumped out to a 1-0 lead only 24 seconds into the game when Joshua Cook beat Huber on the first shot of the game. Saints first-year forward Grant Iles then tied the score six minutes later when he finished a pretty tic-tac-toe play the help from Dallas Calvin and Dane Feeney. The score remained tied after the opening 20 minutes.
The Mariners jumped out to a 2-1 lead two minutes into the second period when Garrett Dunlop scored on the powerplay. Three minutes later, Saints veteran Derek Georgopoulos forward tipped a puck past VIU starter Carson Schamerhorn on the powerplay to tie the game. Just over a minute later, Derek McPhail put away a rebound on another powerplay advantage to give the Saints the 3-2 lead.
The Mariners came out strong in the third period, forcing Huber to make several big stops to help maintain the lead. With three minutes remaining in the game, Feeney’s determined effort provided a 4-2 cushion for the Saints in what would hold up as the game-winner. Joshua Cook scored late for VIU and Brady Ward deposited the puck into the empty net to make it a 5-3 final.
“It can go either way when the other team scores a goal right off the bat, it can deflate you or give you something to work for,” Feeney said after the game. “We responded really well to that early goal and that’s a tribute to just how hard this team works.”
One of the subplots of the night featured Tyler Kerner squaring off against his younger brother Logan Kerner, a first-year forward for the Saints. The brothers, who grew up in a small Alberta community, had never suited up against each other until Saturday night.
“We’ve only played against each other in shinny and mum would always get mad because we would fight,” said the older brother. “There was rumour going around that it might happen today, but I knew that was unlikely. It was a cool experience to play against my brother, he has the bragging rights after tonight but I’m hoping that changes next weekend when they come to play us.”
Logan Kerner was a physical force all game and managed to put his agitator role to good use when former Saints defenceman Halls checked him from behind midway through the second period and was ejected from the game leaving the Mariners without one of their key players.
“He gets under people’s skin and he did a good job of that tonight,” Tyler Kerner said of his brother. “He had a good game and I’m proud of him.”
Saints captain Dallas Calvin had three assists in the game and remains atop BCIHL scoring. Huber turned aside 31 shots to earn his third win of the season.
The Saints will now travel west this coming weekend for a pair of road games against the University of Victoria and a rematch with the Mariners in Nanaimo. Selkirk College returns home to the Castlegar & District Recreation Centre on November 3 and 4 where they will host the University of Victoria.