For the third consecutive year, SFU Men’s Hockey will take on the Trinity Western University Spartans in the first round of the BCIHL playoffs.
Round 1 Schedule:
Game 1: TWU at SFU, Friday March 11th, 7:00pm at Bill Copeland Sports Center in Burnaby
Game 2: SFU at TWU, Saturday March 12th, 7:30pm at George Preston Rec Center in Langley
Game 3 (if needed): TWU at SFU, Sunday March 13th, 7:00pm at Bill Copeland Sports Center in Burnaby
Last year, the fourth-placed Clan upset the first place Spartans, sweeping them 2-0 in a best of three. The year prior, however, the Spartans were the underdogs, winning a tight three game series against SFU, who were favourites for the BCIHL Championship.
This season, SFU are 5-1-0 against their crosstown rivals.
“Obviously it’s going to be heated,” said head coach Mark Coletta. “I think we know each other very well, our tendencies in our systems, but at this point I think execution and efficiency is going to be the things that make the difference in playoffs.
Perhaps one of the most heated rivalries of the BCIHL, these are two teams aren’t scared to get physical — their most recent matchup saw a total of 74 penalty minutes doled out between them.
Games between the two rivals are typically close — with two shootouts and four out of the six games played against each other are one-goal games — but the teams can score, as evidenced by a 10-5 victory by SFU on February 5.
Trinity Western features a dynamic roster with scoring spread throughout the lineup, with four players making the top 15 in BCIHL scoring. Forward Dirk de Waal leads the team in goals with 10, while Mattias Schmitt, Blair Murphy, and PJ Buys all have over 20 points. Murphy leads the BCIHL in defenceman scoring with 21 points, while Ryan Bakken is third in points from the blue line.
Spartans goaltender Silas Matthys leads the league with a .925 SV%.
“It’s going to be tough. They’re a good team, they play a very cerebral style game, they like to get physical. It’s going to be a cat and mouse game. We want to be utilizing our team speed and energy, and they’re going to come out and be a little more systematic and take their chances when they come. It’s going to be a good battle,” said Coletta. “All quality players on the ice next week.”
On the other side of the rink is SFU’s Jordan Liem, who recorded a shutout against the Spartans in a 2-0 win February 6. SFU will have options in net, with backup Lyndon Stanwood having put a 42 save performance in a 3-2 shootout win against Trinity Western on February 13.
SFU’s scoring is also spread throughout the lineup, with 26 different players having registered a point and nine players with more than 12 points. The team depth will be key in a best of three series being played in consecutive nights.
Fifth year veteran Jono Ceci leads the team in points with 30, good for fourth in the BCIHL, while second year forward Tyler Basham leads the team in goals with 11. New additions Brandon Tidy, Brendan Lamont, Jaret Babych, Mitch Crisanti, and Mak Barden have provided some added offence.
Last year, Ceci and second year forward Adam Callegari had two goals each in the playoff series against Trinity Western.
On defence, a young core has emerged. Darnel St Pierre and Robson Cramer, in their first year with the team, have become reliable, everyday players, and both bring a key touch of offence to the blue line. Throughout the second half of the season, Dustin Cave has provided the team with a physical edge.
Mathew Berry-Lamontagna, one of three returning defencemen on the team, is second in the BCIHL in points from a defenceman with eight goals and 20 points.
The victors of the first round will go on to face either Selkirk College or the University of Victoria, depending on the winner of the playoff series, in the BCIHL Finals. Last year, Selkirk defeated SFU for their third straight BCIHL Championship.
Since SFU placed second to Trinity Western’s third, SFU will have home ice advantage, hosting games one and three (if necessary). Game one will be at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre on Friday, March 11. On Saturday, March 12, the Clan will travel to the George Preston Recreation Centre in Langley for game two. If a winner is not decided in two games, SFU will host the final game Sunday, March 13 at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre. All game times are at 7 pm.
For the games at the Bill Copeland, SFU students get in free with student ID, while adult tickets are $10 and children’s/senior’s $5.