Photo Credit: Damon James
BURNABY, BC — Down 2-1, with a little under two minutes left, the SFU Men’s Hockey Team were frustrated after peppering Eastern Washington goaltender Austin Brinh with shots on a late game power play, but with no result. The Eagles killed the penalty.
“We were all over them, I think we had plenty of opportunities — they just weren’t going in,” said Jaret Babych.
However, just three seconds after the penalty ended, with 1:44 left, Babych put one in to tie up the game.
“[That] was a weird one, it was kind of tossed out in front and it bounced off someone’s shoulder, and I caught it in my arm, and just put it down, and shot it at the net, and I didn’t really pick a spot or anything, I just put it there, and it happened to go in.”
It would take until overtime for the next one, but again, the hero was Babych as he bombed it in off the rush, after receiving the pass from Mak Barden, to end it for the Clan 3-2.
“He’s got a big league shot, it’s a hard as I’ve seen in my bunch of years, if I date myself back to when I played. He’s got a pro shot — that thing comes off his stick pretty fast,” said head coach Mark Coletta.
The game had started out with little scoring — neither team put one in the back of the net in the first period. SFU had the advantage in shots with 13-5.
Eastern Washington’s Trevor Zakrajsek opened the scoring just after the three minute mark in the second. Adam Callegari tied it up just before the halfway point, hammering in a rebound from a dangerous Robson Cramer scoring attempt.
The Eagles would finish the period up by one as Tyler Zandhuisen put in a highlight reel goal on his knees, despite a great defensive play by Cramer to prevent him from getting a shot in a comfortable position.
“Eastern Washington is a good team, and they’re healthy, so that just proved that they’re a strong competitor,” said Coletta. “We played well I thought for most of the game — I thought the second period was not too [good], but the third period we took advantage of our team speed.”
Babych found himself comfortable on a line with Daniell Lange and Graham Smerek, a line that provides both a gritty, physical game, and a scoring touch.
Jordan Liem made 20 saves on 22 shots (.909 SV%). Eastern Washington’s Brinh made 35 saves on 38 shots (.921). There were only five penalties doled out during the game — two of them coincidental minors.
With the loss and a UVic win, Eastern Washington are mathematically eliminated from the BCIHL playoffs. SFU built their first place lead, now leading Trinity Western by seven points, though they have two games in hand.
SFU will have a chance to build that gap tonight at home against Selkirk College, who lost 4-2 to UVic last night. SFU are 3-2 against the four-time defending BCIHL champions, but are 1-1 at home.
“Always tough playing Selkirk, it’s a gritty game, it’s a tough game. The two teams don’t like each other, it’s going to be tough,” explained Coletta. “These are the games we play for, late in the season against the defending champions.”
Selkirk College will be without leading scorer Dallas Calvin, who is out the rest of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery. For the Clan, defencemen Brandon Tidy and Dustin Cave are expected to slot back in after sitting out last night for a maintenance day.
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 game will also be streamed live on HockeyTV. Puck drop is at 7 pm.
1st Star: EWU #3 Tyler Zandhuisen (1G, 0A)
2nd Star: SFU #24 Jaret Babych (2G, 0A, GWG)
3rd Star: SFUU #36 Adam Callegari (1G, 0A)
AROUND THE BCIHL: The University of Victoria Vikes downed the Selkirk College Saints 4-2, continuing a three-game winning streak. Freshamn Mike Janz led the way with two goals — his first two of his career. Selkirk doubled UVic’s shot total 42-21, with Vikes goaltender Zack Wear standing on his head, making 40 saves (.952 SV%).