BURNABY, BC — In the end, it was a bit closer than they would have liked, but SFU will gladly take a 5-4 win in their season opener versus the Vancouver Island University Mariners.
“It was a little bit greasy, but we ended up getting the W,” said first year forward Justin Lee. “There were some times where I thought we played really well, we’re playing our systems, we were all over them, but then there were other times where we had some small mistakes that led to them capitalizing.”
Lee opened the game on a high note by scoring SFU’s first goal of the year 6:36 in.
“I felt good, I felt comfortable out there right away, I didn’t really have any first game jitters,” said Lee, an alumnus of the North Vancouver Wolf Pack.
It was fitting on a night honouring the Wolf Pack, that the second goal of the night would also go to a former Wolf Pack player, Mitch Ledyard. SFU would end the first period with a 2-0 lead, despite being slightly edged in shots 13-11.
Kyle Bergh would make it a three-goal lead for SFU in the early goings of the second period.
VIU showed some fight in the second, with Alex Hanson getting them on the board, and Garrett Dunlop putting them within one on a shorthanded goal.
First year defenceman Jordan Dawson gave SFU some breathing room with his first BCIHL goal, a snipe of a shot from a pass from McKullen Astill. In the second period, VIU had the shot advantage 17-11.
Dawson would make it a three goal game again with his second of the night, 5:22 into the third, a lead they’d hold for much of the period.
Taking advantage of a 5-on-3, however, with 3:13 left, VIU’s Seth Schmidt scored to put them within two, and Brett Witala, last season’s BCIHL scoring leader, put them within one, scoring on the continued power play.
SFU was able to hold on and take a 5-4 win.
Patrick Zubick, playing his first regular season game with SFU after transferring from Selkirk College, was strong in net, making 34 saves on 38 shots (.895 SV%).
Despite the win, head coach Mark Coletta noted the team has to play better going forward.
“Offensively, even though we lost some guys who put up points over the last couple of years, the guys we brought in can score. I’m not worried about our offence — we’ve got a highly skilled team that’s just gotta work hard and battle a bit more. The goals are going to be there all year, I’m very confident of that — it’s how we play without the puck that’s going to dictate what we do this year,” he explained.
“We didn’t come out with enough conviction to win a hockey game. We’re lucky we had good goaltending, we got some opportunistic goals.”
SFU went 0-for-9 on the power play.
Next weekend will see back-to-back games at home for SFU, starting with rematch against VIU on Friday, before facing off against the University of Victoria on Saturday. Puck drop for both games is 7 pm at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre.
1st Star: SFU #27 Jordan Dawson (2G, GWG)
2nd Star: SFU #35 Patrick Zubick (34 Saves, .895 SV%)
3rd Star: SFU #91 Justin Lee (1G)
AROUND THE BCIHL: Selkirk College earned their first win of the season against UVic 3-2 at home. Johnny Foley, Blake Sidoni, and Jaiden LaPorte were the goal scorers for Selkirk. With early starts to the season, Selkirk moves to 1-2 on the season, and UVic 2-2. (VIU also had an early start, and now sits 2-2).