Photo Credit: Garrett James
With a chance to claim first place in the BCIHL, the SFU Men’s Hockey Team heads to Cheney, WA this weekend to face the Eastern Washington University Eagles in back-to-back matchups on Saturday and Sunday.
Just one win this weekend would give the Clan first place. Collecting three of four possible points last weekend, they slotted into sole ownership of second place in the BCIHL with a 5-1-1 record and 11 points, and sit one point back from Selkirk College — who do not play this weekend, but have played two more games than SFU.
But SFU’s facing an Eastern Washington team that’s due for a win. Seven games in, the Eagles are awaiting their first win — and it’s going to come sooner, rather than later. With last weekend off, they will be well rested.
“Eastern Washington will definitely be ready to go, coming off a week of rest. We’re not going to win 10-1 every game we play them. We’re on the road, so we’ve got to make sure we’re ready,” said head coach Mark Coletta.
In their last matchup, SFU defeated the Eagles 10-1 at home, with a five goal first period.
However, the Clan can expect a much closer set of games this weekend. Prior to that game on October 22, an SFU-EWU matchup hadn’t been won by a margin of more than two goals since February 7, 2015 — and that was a 5-2 Eastern Washington victory.
The lone matchup in Cheney earlier this season was a 3-1 SFU victory. Eagles goaltender Tyler O’Donnell was a challenge for SFU scorers, saving 48 of 51 shots (.941 SV%).
While the Eagles have struggled for scoring so far this season, they have more than a few players who can make a difference. Paxton Bell, who sits just outside the top 10 in BCIHL scoring at 11th, is a point per game player with three goals and five assists in seven games played. Tanner Hawes and Austin Breen are capable offensive defenceman with three goals each.
The Eagles will be without two-time BCIHL scoring leader Beau Walker, who is out with a lower body injury.
With Adam Callegari coming back from injury last weekend (with three assists in two games), SFU has four of the BCIHL’s point per game leaders. Callegari leads the league with 1.8, while Scott Patterson sits tied for third, with Brendan Lamont and Graham Smerek rounding out the top 10.
The Clan will likely alternate goaltenders Jordan Liem and Lyndon Stanwood, who have been solid with .913 SV% and .932 SV% on the season.
“They both played well [last weekend],” said Coletta. “They weren’t happy with some of the goals that went in, but they both played well and made some big saves at key moments in both games, so we’re happy with them right now and we’ll keep an eye on both of them and see how they do. We’ll probably rotate them again for another week and then make some decisions leading into Christmas.”
The games will be live streamed on FASTHockey and follow @SFUHockey on Twitter for live updates. Puck drop is at 7:30 pm Saturday and 5 pm Sunday.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Daniell Lange — SFU
(2G, 0A, 4GP) (first season in the BCIHL)
While some may feel the weight of wearing Jono Ceci’s number 91, if there’s a man up for the task, it’s fellow SJHL alumnus Daniell Lange. With a goal in both games of last weekend’s back-to-back — his first two in the BCIHL — Lange made his name known. Hot streaks come and go, but with a 30 goal and 57 point season last year with the Kindersley Klippers, we have a feeling we’ll be hearing Lange’s name a lot more.
Paxton Bell — EWU
(3G, 5A, 7GP) (2015/16: 4G, 13A, 19 GP)
A fourth year veteran of the team, Paxton Bell has long been one of Eastern Washington’s best playmakers, with 63 points in 71 career games — 40 of them assists. However, the Eagles need goal scoring, with a league-low 14 goals scored as a team. Bell, who put up a goal and two assists in Eastern Washington’s last game, will be one of the players looked upon to step up. With 10 goals in the 2014/15 season, Bell has proven that he can score as well as set up others.