Euphoria was quickly replaced with heartbreak on Monday night.
Playing in the deciding game of the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League championship series against the Victoria Vikes at the Langley Events Centre, the Trinity Western Spartans tied the score at two — while playing short-handed — with 30 seconds remaining in regulation time.
But with just 7.2 seconds left on the clock, Shawn Mueller slipped into the slot and snapped a shot past TWU goaltender Silas Matthys for the 3-2 victory.
— Brian Wiebe (@Brian_Wiebe) March 21, 2017
The goal was the Vikes’ third with the man advantage and all five goals they scored in the series came with an extra attacker.
Justin Fontaine scored both Spartan goals in Monday’s loss.
TWU had won game one 5-0 on Friday in Victoria before the Vikes stayed alive with 2-1 overtime victory on Saturday at the George Preston Recreation Centre. The tying goal — which came in the last minute of regulation — was scored with the goalie pulled for an extra attacker, while the OT winner was a power-play marker.
The Vikes were the fourth seed entering the playoffs while the Spartans were second.
“There’s nothing to hang our heads about tonight. We lost and we have to lick our wounds, but we couldn’t have asked for a better series. It was a great showcase for the league,” said Spartans coach Barret Kropf.
“(Victoria) finishing fourth and then winning the championship, that’s not luck. They were banged up and injured in the first half and they got their bodies back and found their form.
“But to have a game like that and with the emotions going back and forth, it’ll be tough for our guys to deal with tonight, but we’ll be a stronger team next year because of it. Hats off to Victoria, they have a great lineup and Harry (Schamhart) has done a great job of building his culture and he gets rewarded with a championship.”
The Spartans set a TWU men’s hockey record with 630 fans watching the game.
“The crowd was unbelievable,” Kropf said.
“The guys love that kind of support and feed off it. I love the direction the school is going and embracing each other across campus. That wasn’t all student-athletes tonight. That was campus-wide and also included alumni and I just really like where things are going at TWU.”
— Grant McMillan (@gvmcmillan) March 21, 2017
This was the second straight year and third time in the past four seasons, TWU has lost in the championship series.