With the advent of their tenth anniversary season, SFU Men’s Hockey looks to add a record setting fourth British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League championship to their belt.
Last season, the Clan made up for a disappointing fourth place regular season finish with a surprise playoff run, upsetting the first place Trinity Western Spartans in the first round, before falling just short in the BCIHL finals to the Selkirk College Saints, who won their third straight BCIHL title.
“This year, more than any other year, we are in a better physical and conditioning state than we’ve been in any offseason,” said head coach Mark Coletta, who is entering his eighth season as SFU head coach, with a record of 114-30-14 (.722) and two BCIHL championships during his tenure as head coach. “We’ve worked them pretty hard since the last week of August, we’ve demanded a lot out of them, and I think their physical condition is the best it’s been in any preseason since I’ve been around.”
SFU’s offence features returning forward Jono Ceci, who led SFU in goals last season and was the 2013/14 BCIHL leading scorer. Ceci is 10 points shy of the all time BCIHL scoring record. Though 2014/15 points leader Nick Sandor graduated from the team, much of the team’s offensive core remains intact with second year forward Adam Callegari looking to improve on his rookie season where he notched the third-most points on the team, as well as second year forward Tyler Basham who was third in goals scored for the team.
As well, the offence will be bolstered with a strong recruiting class. Arizona State University transfer Mak Barden scored two goals this previous weekend against NCAA Division I contenders, the Providence Friars, the 2015 national champions. 2013/14 PJHL MVP and leading scorer Stephen Ryan joins the Clan this season along with NCAA transfers Brandon Tidy and Jaret Babych. In January, SFU will add North Van Wolfpack alumni Mitch Crisanti, who was third in PJHL scoring with 33 goals and 63 points, and led playoff scoring with 19 goals and 36 points, and Dyllan and Spencer Quon.
On defence, the team will bring back offensive defenceman Mathew Berry-Lamontagna, who had six goals and 14 points, as well as second year defenceman Robby Jang. Joining the team are a crop of talented rookies with a focus on players who can contribute to the offensive side of the game including Robson Cramer, who as a defenceman for the Nelson Leafs of the KIJHL had 19 goals and 58 points in 51 games last season.
In goal, second year goalie Jordan Liem will split the starter workload with NCAA transfer Lyndon Stanwood. Liem finished last season with a 2.72 GAA and a .901 SVS%, while Stanwood in preseason games against BCIHL competition let in only two goals and had a .949 SVS%.
The theme of the preseason was competition, and with the team’s depth, it created an environment where all spots on the team are earned.
“There’s a sense of urgency with our group, and guys know they’re fighting for jobs this year,” said Coletta. “We have 19 forwards and we have nine defencemen, and the gamesheet only has room for 18 skaters.
“Competition is fierce.”
Founded in 2005, the team is celebrating its tenth anniversary throughout this season with a variety of special events including hosting the BCIHL Showcase in January.
The team will open the season this Saturday at the Langley Event Centre in a rematch of last season’s playoffs against the Trinity Western Spartans. Last year, SFU won the season series against TWU 4-3 and swept them in two games in the BCIHL playoffs, however, the Spartans have had the edge this preseason winning two games against the Clan. Puck drop is at 7 pm.
The Clan will return to the Bill Copeland Sports Centre the following Saturday for the season’s home opener against Eastern Washington University. Last season, EWU were the last place in the BCIHL with a 7-16-1 record and SFU won the season series 3-2. SFU students get in free with student ID. Puck drop is also at 7 pm.