Photo Credit: Garrett James
The SFU Men’s Hockey Team will face three different teams — Trinity Western, Eastern Washington, and Selkirk College — in three nights this weekend, as they look to solidify their first place spot.
With two of the three teams directly behind them in the standings, the results of the games will likely play a large role in SFU’s quest to get home ice for the playoffs with a first place finish.
“Home ice is huge,” said head coach Mark Coletta. “Our rink is a nice comfortable place for us and we want to be home [in the playoffs].
“In the last couple of years, we’ve struggled down the stretch, so that’s important not only for standings, but our team chemistry.”
With the exception of Eastern Washington — who played last weekend in back-to-back losses against the University of Victoria — the teams had a bye week for the last weekend of January, and should be well rested for action.
SFU last played in a home-and-home series with Trinity Western on January 19 and 21, collecting three out of a possible four points. The Clan struggled to score in a 2-1 shootout loss on the road in the Thursday game, but back at home Saturday, they exploded offensively to win 6-3.
The three game back-to-back affair this weekend will open with SFU heading on the road for a rematch against Trinity Western on Thursday. In both games against the BCIHL’s best defensive team at the Langley Events Centre, SFU only managed one goal.
However, SFU has the BCIHL’s most potent offence, scoring 4.76 goals per game, and with five players in the BCIHL top-15 scoring list. Last season, the Clan had more luck finding the back of the net in the Spartan home, scoring 17 goals in three regular season games.
Along with a strong defensive structure, the Spartans have strong goaltending in league veteran Silas Matthys — who has a career regular season .911 SV% against SFU — and a strong freshman in Lucas Mills, who in three games started has two shutouts and a .980 SV%. They also contain two dynamic freshmen forwards in Evan Last — who leads the BCIHL in points with 26 — and Jarrett Fontaine — who shares the BCIHL lead in goals with 12.
Fontaine, however, has missed the previous three games with injury, and Trinity Western will also be without Jamey Kreller, a key part of the Spartans’ offence.
Trinity Western is three points behind SFU, but with a game in hand.
For Friday and Saturday, SFU will return home. SFU are 6-1 at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre this season.
First, SFU will take on Eastern Washington Friday. Eastern Washington are 1-15, but achieved their first win of the season on January 20 against the University of Victoria in an 8-0 victory.
Their roster also got a big boost as 2015 and 2016 leading scorer Beau Walker returned from a lower body injury that caused him to miss 11 games. Walker scored his first goal of the season in Eastern Washington’s 7-3 loss on Saturday.
Eagles goaltender Austin Brinh has put up some solid goaltending amidst a tough stretch for the only American-based team of the BCIHL. In his last four games, Brinh has a .937 SV%, and posted a 23-save shutout.
On Saturday, the Clan will face Selkirk College in the final game of the series.
The Saints are on a two-game winning streak, which includes a 4-2 victory against the Clan. However, they will be without team leading scorer Dallas Calvin, who will be out the rest of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery in January.
SFU are 3-2 against Selkirk College in the season series, but can expect a tough matchup Saturday. The Saints play a tough, physical game, but can also punish teams with their scoring prowess.
The Clan have received some great goaltending down the stretch as Lyndon Stanwood is undefeated with a 7-0 record with a .921 SV%, while Jordan Liem has .918 SV%, having put up a stellar performance against Trinity Western last Thursday, saving 26 of 27 shots (.963 SV%).
For the SFU home games, 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 for all games.