LANGLEY, BC — Finishing the 2017 calendar year, the SFU Men’s Hockey Team were a little bit cold, finishing with two straight losses and without a regulation win since November 11.
However, since the calendar has flipped to 2018, SFU has been playing their most dominant hockey all season, putting up a three game win streak, in which they have outscored their competition 13-4 in that span.
“The guys have come with a good mindset, they’re focused, they’re energized,” said head coach Mark Coletta.
“Everybody’s healthy,” he continued. “And the guys, they know what’s at stake here. There’s been guys who’ve been here three or four years and haven’t won. And college hockey goes by quick, you don’t play on the weekends, no 70 game schedules, within two months the season’s over, and guys are graduating, and their opportunity to win a championship is done. I think they’ve figured that out.”
Key to the 2018 surge has been health. Jaret Babych and Austin Adam have both returned to the lineup after missing the last bit of 2017.
Babych, in particular, has found chemistry with new linemates Brendan Lamont and Mac Colasimone, with the line putting up a combined 17 points in the three previous games.
“We were going to tweak some lines going into the break, we knew that we had to find some better combinations, and guys having more continuity with each other,” said Coletta. “That line’s got speed, they’ve got grit, they’ve got guys that can shoot the puck. Babych has got an NHL shot, there’s no doubt, he’s big, he’s solid, he moves well; Colasimone is flashy, he does everything well; and Lamont is just one of those guys you enjoy watching.”
Lyndon Stanwood has been hot, allowing only one goal in two of the last three contests and putting up a .938 SV% over the win streak.
The team’s streak will be tested by a tough back-to-back away and home game this week.
Tonight, SFU heads to Langley to face the Trinity Western Spartans.
Trinity Western sits in first place, enjoying a nine game win streak that dates back to November 11. With five players in the BCIHL Top 10 Scorers — Brayden Brown, Evan Last, Kade Vilio, Brandon Potomak, and Dirk de Waal — TWU commands a balanced attack.
“Trinity’s a good team, I think we’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing, and we’re doing a good job of it right now,” said Lamont. “We’re on a bit of a roll, but it’s going to be a different test with them — they always play us hard.”
SFU has three games in hand on Trinity Western, but sits 10 points back in third place.
“The games in hand mean nothing against Trinity, unless we win them, so that’s going to be a tough game,” explained Coletta. “Last is a dynamic player, Silas [Matthys] is in net, they’re going to be good, they play a structured game, they don’t give you much, hopefully [tonight] night we come with the same mindset [as last Saturday].”
SFU are currently 1-2 on the season against Trinity Western.
On Friday, the Clan return home to face the University of Victoria Vikes. SFU can expect a hungry team in UVic. After winning the BCIHL Championship in a Cinderella run last season, the Vikes are in danger of missing playoffs for the first time since the 2013/14 season.
Last weekend, UVic snapped a two game losing streak with a 4-1 victory over Eastern Washington. Still seven points out of the fourth and final playoff spot, the Vikes are still recovering from a tough spell in November that saw them only win one out of the seven games in the month.
Having lost key players including Shaun Mueller, Luciano Somerville, and Patrick Holland, they’ve struggled to find their offence. Forward Jack Palmer has picked up the slack, putting up a career-high 17 points so far. Freshman goaltender Alec Dillon, a WHL alumnus and former LA Kings prospect, has assumed the starter position and has shown flashes of brilliance.
SFU has a 2-1 record versus UVic.
Tonight’s game against TWU will be at the Langley Events Centre. For Friday’s home game at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre, tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and free for children under 6 or for SFU students with valid ID. The games will also be streamed live on HockeyTV. Puck drop is at 7 pm for both games.