It was a heartbreaking finish for SFU Men’s Hockey. After three hard-fought periods, the Clan were bested 34 seconds into overtime by the Trinity Western Spartans by a score of 3-2.
“I thought we played real well,” said head coach Mark Coletta. “Anytime you lose in overtime, it’s tough, but I think the guys figured out some things tonight, our team chemistry is good, our effort level is good, and sometimes you don’t get the bounces you need to win hockey games.
“It’s good that it happens now, and hopefully we can fix those things in the season.”
SFU came out of the gate with energy, dominating the play during the opening minutes of the first period, almost opening the scoring with a backhand attempt by rookie Brendan Lamont, who had 25 goals and 63 points in 58 games last season with the Coquitlam Express of the BCHL.
Despite the early pressure by the Clan, the Spartans would net the first goal of the night on the power play 2:38 into the first period.
Penalty troubles plagued SFU for much of the game, with the team taking three penalties in the first, including one taken late in the period negating a Clan power play. Stellar goaltending by first year goalie Lyndon Stanwood helped to keep TWU off the board on the other two man-advantages in the first.
Stanwood split goaltending duties with sophomore Jordan Liem. Stanwood saved 19 of 20 shots (.950 SV%), while Liem saved 21 out of 23 shots (.913 SV%).
SFU would even up the scoresheet midway through with veteran forward Graham Smerek tapping in a shot by Jaret Babych, fresh out of a stint in the penalty box, that stopped just short of the goal line.
However, Trinity Western would take advantage of a 5-on-3 late in the second to reclaim the lead.
SFU entered the third period determined to tie up the game. Just over six minutes in, second year defenceman Mathew Berry-Lamontagna put the puck in top shelf, after an end-to-end rush assisted by defenceman Robby Jang.
Despite a push by the Clan to end the game in regulation, the game would need overtime. 34 seconds into 4-on-4 sudden death, however, TWU defenceman Josiah Cockrill put an end to the game with a goal, notching the Spartans their third consecutive preseason win.
With the loss, SFU is now 0-3 in exhibition play. The Clan will now prepare for a trip east to take on reigning NCAA Division I champions, the Providence Friars, Saturday, October 3, before playing fellow Div I contenders, the Northeastern Huskies, who are one of the four teams that competes annually in the Beanpot tournament played at the TD Garden in Boston. Among the players that SFU will match up against is 2012 Calgary Flames first round pick Mark Jankowski, who plays for the Friars.
“The next two weeks are definitely going to be focused on conditioning,” said Coletta. “[Our] guys are good enough to play at that level, we just need to be physically fit.”
Regular season action will begin against Trinity Western on the road Saturday, October 10, before SFU’s home opener the following Saturday against Eastern Washington. Both games start at 7 pm.