BURNABY, BC — The SFU Men’s Hockey Team will open at home this Saturday against the BCIHL expansion team, the Vancouver Island University Mariners.
“We’re excited about the home opener,” said head coach Mark Coletta. “[Our rink] plays to our skill level and our speed, so we want to make sure we get healthy for next week.”
Battling injuries, SFU split their first road series over the weekend. Initially taking a 3-0 lead against Selkirk College, the Clan allowed six straight goals to fall 6-3 in the season opener. SFU righted the ship Saturday evening and put up a dominant 7-3 win over Eastern Washington.
They will look to build some positive momentum against the league’s newest team.
“[Vancouver Island] have some veteran guys that played in Selkirk, they have a former WHL player as well, so they’ll definitely be good,” said Coletta. “They’re getting their feet wet, so we don’t know what to expect. We’ll have to make sure to raise our game.”
Three players from the 2016/17 Selkirk College Saints — forward Alex Milligan, defenceman Jordan Rauser, and former captain Tyler Kerner — joined the inaugural Mariners roster. Milligan put up 10 goals and 16 points last season.
Captain Ryan Coghlan, a defenceman, played 81 games in the WHL split between the Saskatoon Blades and the Prince Albert Raiders. Coghlan is a familiar face to Lower Mainland hockey fans, playing 25 games with the Coquitlam Express of the BCHL in the 2015/16 season.
The Nanaimo-based team will have some firepower. Forward Garrett Dunlop put up 31 goals and 80 points with the Nipawin Hawks of the SJHL in 2015/16, and over his junior career, put up 133 points in the SJHL and 122 points in the VIJHL. Delta’s Michael Olsen-Eyre had a breakout season with the VIJHL’s Campbell River Storm, putting up 26 goals and 59 points. 6’1 forward Curtis McCarrick, a four season veteran of the BCHL’s Powell River Kings, put up 12 goals and 36 points last season, to go with 97 career BCHL points.
Gage Colpron had the Mariners’ lone goal in their inaugural game, a 5-1 loss against Trinity Western at home Saturday. Prior to playing SFU, the Mariners will face the Spartans in Langley on Friday.
The Clan’s home opener is Burnaby Minor Hockey Night. SFU Hockey will be donating all 50/50 proceeds from the game to the Burnaby Minor Hockey Association. Post game, there will be an autograph session with the entire team.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and free for children under 6 or for SFU students with valid ID. The game will also be streamed live on HockeyTV. Puck drop is at 7 pm.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Brandon Tidy — SFU
(2G, 2A, 2GP) (2016/17: 5G, 9A, 20GP)
After spending much of last season on defence due to team injuries, Brandon Tidy is expected to play much of the season at forward. A versatile player, Tidy can do a little bit of everything. Defensively responsible, he’s also a more than capable goal scorer, putting up 10 goals in 2015/16, the second-most that season. Tidy put up two goals in SFU’s 7-3 win against Eastern Washington on Saturday, both of them shorthanded.
Alex Milligan — VIU
(0G, 0A, 1GP) (2016/17: 10G, 6A, 24GP)
A familiar face, but in a different jersey. The 5’11 forward who played three seasons with the Selkirk College Saints will be expected to carry a bit of the offensive load on the inaugural Mariners team. Last season with the Saints, Alex Milligan put up a career-high 10 goals. He can also play the role of an agitator, putting up 58 penalty minutes last season.