The Simon Fraser University Men’s Hockey Team returned to the Bill Copeland Sports Centre January 24th after two consecutive defeats to the BCIHL leading Trinity Western Spartans. The Clan entered the game having suffered three straight defeats overall to begin 2015 and were looking to buck the trend in order to get back into the win column. SFU’s opponent’s, the University of Victoria Vikes, however played a structurally sound hockey game that stymied the Clan’s offense en route to a 4-2 victory.
The first period didn’t exactly go according to plan for the home side. Matthew Luongo did get SFU on the board first with a highlight reel spin-o-rama shot from the slot, but UVic answered back with 2 goals in 38 seconds to take a two-goal lead. Vikes defenseman James Tindle fired a seeing eye shot through traffic for UVic’s first and Shawn Mueller showed all kinds of patience on a power play and rifled his attempt low blocker side to give the visitors a 2-1 lead heading into the intermission.
Jordan Liem started in net for SFU and after giving up 2 goals on 3 shots early in the game, settled in and turned away 14 Uvic second period shots. On the offensive side of the ledger, the line of Adam Rossi, Matthew Luongo, and Mike Sandor was SFU’s most tenacious. The three flew all over the nice all game long, created some quality chances, and never gave UVic’s defense any time with the puck in the defensive zone. The line’s performance was indicative of SFU’s night overall, as while the Clan played hard, they were hard pressed to crack the code that was UVic netminder Scott Legault. The score line remained the same after the second period as both teams unable to find much offensive cohesiveness.
The final frame did in fact feature some goals, but not to the liking of the home crowd. UVic’s Carsen Willans was able to find some space in front of Liem’s crease and tip home a James Tindle point shot to give the Island team an all important two-goal lead. Mark Coletta’s men would not go down without a fight as just one minute and thirty-three seconds after Willans’ tally, the hot stick of Tyler Basham struck again, brining SFU within one. For Basham, it was his third goal in two games.
Vikes’ goaltender Legualt stood tall from there on out and Shawn Mueller added an empty netter to seal Victoria’s all-important win. SFU could muster very little in terms of offensive production as, despite scoring two goals, were only able to direct 16 shots on net.
The loss places some doubt on SFU’s hope of having home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs because, in surrendering two points to Victoria, the Vikes move into second place now five points clear of the Burnaby squad.
The playoffs themselves are still very much in reach for SFU as they welcome the Eastern Washington Eagles to Bill Copeland next Saturday. With a win, the Clan can move eight points clear of the American squad for the final playoff spot. But to move past this four game losing streak SFU will have to focus on one game at time and have an opportunity to right the ship against the last placed Eagles on the final day of January.