Spartans clean up at league awards

Trinity Western hockey team wins five of six BCIHL league awards

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that no one from the Trinity Western Spartans won the most valuable player award.

After all, members of the hockey team won five of the other six BC Intercollegiate Hockey League awards, displaying the team’s depth which helped them set a new program record for single-season success as the team went 21-3-0-1.

TWU’s Dustin Deugau (top defenceman), Silas Matthys (top goaltender), Brayden Brown (rookie of the year), Florian Niedermaier (most sportsmanlike) and Barret Kropf (coach of the year) were the award winners.

The lone award the Spartans did not win was most valuable player, which went to Eastern Washington’s Beau Walker.

Matthys, Deugau and Evan Last were also named to the BCIHL first team all-stars while Brown was a second team selection.

Kropf said he was worried voter fatigue might cost his players some votes with so many Spartans on the ballot.

Matthys led the league with a 2.27 goals against average and a .923 save percentage and the fifth-year netminder is the all-time wins (51), minutes (4,783) and saves (2,423) leader.

Deugau was tops among all blue-liners with 21 assists and he especially excelled on the TWU power play where his 10 man-advantage assists were third among all players.

Brown finished fourth in league scoring with 15 goals and 30 points and was second in even-strength points — behind Last — with 24. Brown was also tied for the league-lead with three game-winning goals.

Niedermaier was a key piece to the Spartans offence as he was seventh in the league with 13 goals. But he is being recognized for his sportsmanship as in 25 games, the forward did not pick up any penalty minutes.

And Kropf picked up his third career coach of the year award, as he previously won in both 2014 and 2015. With Kropf at the helm, the Spartans led the league in both goals scored (117) and fewest goals allowed (55) over the team’s 25 games.

The Spartans will also play for the BCIHL championship this week as they host the Selkirk Saints in a best-of-three series at the George Preston Recreation Centre.

TWU defeated the Victoria Vikes 8-1 and 4-3 to win the best-of-three semifinal series.

Game one had no score for the first 37 minutes but Niedermaier, Dirk de Waal and Last scored in the final three minutes of the period for a 3-0 lead. The Spartans added five more in final 20 minutes for the rout.

Niedermaier finished with two goals, while Jarrett Fontaine, Jordan Rendle, Karsten Seidel and Brown had the others.

Matthys made 19 saves, including a penalty shot stop, and then stopped 20 more pucks in game two.

Game two saw the Vikes jump ahead 2-0 and leading 3-1 midway through the second period.

But Deugau, Brandon Potomak and Brown scored in a span of 5:06. Last had scored the opening goal.

The Spartans are in the championship series for the fourth time in the past five years as they look for their first-ever BCIHL title.

“We are prepared (and) we are healthy, which in the last few years when we have been to the championship, we haven’t been,” Kropf said. “That is really important.”

Games one and two are March 15 (7:30 p.m.) and 16 (7 p.m.) and if necessary, game three would be March 17, also at 7 p.m.

After losing the first head-to-head game during the regular season, the Spartans (21-3-0-1) won their final four games against Selkirk (18-5-0-2).

Prior to last season, the Saints had won four consecutive BCIHL championships.

“They still have guys in the locker room who know what it takes to win,” Kropf said.

“Once the puck drops, the tipping point is going to be the team that has the most discipline and can stay out of the box — Selkirk has a very lethal power play and we can’t give them that man advantage.

“Even though we have a great penalty kill and the guys work really hard on it, we have to stay out of the box and not give them those opportunities.”

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