Sports

Castlegar the scene for BCIHL top-spot showdown

Selkirk Saints - Selkirk Saints
Selkirk Saints
— image credit: Selkirk Saints

FEBRUARY 18, 2014 -- CASTLEGAR, B.C. -- It seemed an unlikely scenario just a few weeks ago, but Selkirk College will have a chance to take over first place in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League standings on Saturday night when Simon Fraser University visits the West Kootenays for the final regular season match-up between the league's top two teams. Face-off is set for 7:30 PM at the Castlegar Recreation Complex.

It appeared as recently as early February that the regular season title was the Simon Fraser's to lose; the Clan had just topped Selkirk in shootout on home ice and soon after received an additional two points forfeited by Thompson Rivers University after it was determined that the WolfPack dressed ineligible players in a 3-1 victory over SFU two weeks earlier. But in the month since, the Saints have yet to drop another point and head into weekend action riding a six-game winning streak and a record of 9-0-1 in their last 10.

As a result, there's no shortage of drama heading into Saturday night's contest, as a BCIHL regular season title and home ice advantage through the league playoffs could very well hang in the balance.

"We knew after SFU picked up those forfeited points that we were in a tough spot to make up the gap, and that the only solution was to keep winning," says Saints head coach Jeff Dubois. "We've been able to do that and to set up a big game on our home ice, which is a place where we've had a great deal of success. I'm not sure that there's ever been a BCIHL regular season game so late in the year where first place has been on the line, so we're looking forward to the chance to compete in a playoff atmosphere with lots on the line."

The Saints have picked up three of a possible six points against the Clan this year, having won their previous home meeting against SFU in November by a 9-5 score. Selkirk has won their last five home games against Simon Fraser dating back to the beginning of the 2012/13 season, including two victories to sweep the 2013 BCIHL Finals and capture their first league championship.

The Clan is led offensively by the dynamic duo of Jono Ceci and former Trail Smoke Eaters winger Nick Sandor. The pair sits tied for top spot in BCIHL scoring with 44 points each, three ahead of Saints captain Logan Proulx.

In goal, SFU has turned to four-year veteran Andrew Parent as their starter following the departure of all-star Graeme Gordon in December. Parent allowed all nine goals in the Clan's most recent trip to Castlegar, but has provided steady goaltending so far in 2014 and won seven of his last eight starts.

The Saints, meanwhile, continue to crowd the list of the BCIHL's top scorers. Proulx, Cody Fidgett and Connor McLaughlin sit third, fourth and fifth in points while Fidgett and McLaughlin lead the league with 22 and 21 goals respectively. Add in Jackson Garrett, Darnell Dyck, Thomas Hardy, Beau Taylor, Scott Swiston and Mason Spear and Selkirk boasts nine of the BCIHL's Top 20 scorers.

The Saints are expecting their largest crowd of the season on Saturday. Tickets will be available at the door for $8 (Adults) and $5 (Seniors, Ages 18 & Under, Selkirk Staff/Students).

SAINTS NOTES: Selkirk will be welcoming Saints Men's Hockey Alumni to Saturday's game, with members of teams as far back as the early 1970s in attendance. A pregame ceremony will be held to recognize former players.

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