With four games remaining in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) regular season, the Selkirk College Saints are in an unfamiliar late-February position of looking up in the standings.
After a rocky start to the second half of the season, the Saints quest for home-ice advantage in the looming post-season has started to slip away. With four games remaining in the regular season, the Saints are staying focused on sowing the seeds of their own destiny as they push for their fifth straight BCIHL championship.
“You are going to go through adversity over the course of a season and we have been preaching all year long that it’s about the process to build towards the end result,” says Saints’ head coach Brent Heaven, when asked about his team’s 3-4 record so far in 2017. “Obviously we would have liked to have a better record over the last few games, but you can’t really do anything about what’s happened in the past… it’s all about building towards the goal at the end of the season.”
On Friday night in Cheney, the Saints returned to winning ways when they topped the Eastern Washington University Eagles 4-2. The Saints received goals from four different players — Jack Mills, Matt Martin, Troy Maclise and Jonas Horvath — and veteran defenceman Ashton McLeod added three assists in the victory. Saints’ goaltender Brett Huber picked up his seventh win of the season.
The weekend win was the only highlight in a tough February for the Saints that saw the team play four straight on the road. Losses to the University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University and Trinity Western University has dropped the Selkirk College team to third place, five points out of earning home ice for the league semi-finals, which start next month.
“Every season is different and brings its own new challenges,” says Heaven. “At the end of the day, the goal is the same and our goal is to win a fifth-consecutive championship. The road that we take is always going to be different and it’s all about staying confident. If we believe that no matter what we face we can put our best foot forward, pride and desire will get us the results in the end.”
This weekend, the Saints host Victoria in a vital two-game set. With the fourth-place Vikes nipping at the Saints’ heels and looking to avoid powerhouse Simon Fraser in the first round of the post-season, there will be plenty on the line when the two rivals meet.
“They have very talented team and have been enjoying some success recently,” Heaven says of UVIC. “All the games we play from now on have a playoff-type atmosphere with high intensity. With the standings so tight, every game is important and it will be an emotion-filled game. The arena in Castlegar this weekend will be buzzing with our games and the [Junior B Castlegar] Rebels starting their playoffs. There’s going to be some excellent hockey and a lot of fun for hockey fans.”
Friday night’s game starts at 7 p.m. at the Castlegar & District Recreation Centre. Saturday’s game will be sponsored by the Selkirk College Business Administration Program and has a new time of 4 p.m. due to the Castlegar Rebels playoff game.
IN THE CREASE: A pair of Saints players were recognized for their outstanding achievements on the ice in January with forward Ryan Edwards named BCIHL Player of the Month and Seth Schmidt named BCIHL Defenceman of the Month. The Saints added a new player to the roster with Castlegar native Kadrian Klimchuk — who is studying in the Rural Pre-Medicine Program — joining the squad and playing in his first game Friday night against Eastern Washington.