Saints clinch BCIHL title go from cellar to penthouse in one season
The Selkirk College Saints clinched its first B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League regular season title by splitting a pair of weekend games with Eastern Washington University.
The title completes a worst-to-first season for the Saints, who finished dead last in 2012.
The Saints opened the weekend by edging out the Eagles 3-2 Saturday at the Castlegar Rec Complex.
The two points, coupled with SFU’s 4-2 loss to Trinity Western, assures the Saints no worse than a tie atop the standings and secured first place based on the league’s tie-breaking formula.
Selkirk has 36 points with five regular season games remaining while Simon Fraser sit four points back with two games yet to play.
Sunday, Selkirk lost 5-1 to Eastern Washington.
“There are games where the score probably doesn’t represent the run of play and this was one of those,” said Saints head coach Jeff Dubois after Selkirk’s one-goal win at home Saturday.
“We had a 42-16 advantage in shots on goal and could have had a few more goals.
“(Eastern goalie Jason) Greenwell was very good in net for Eastern and we weren’t great in terms of finishing plays. But overall it was a very strong team effort and a good bounce-back from a poor performance last weekend.”
Kam Crawford opened the scoring for the Saints on the power-play midway through the first period when his wrist shot from the point found its way through a screen and past Greenwell.
And the hosts doubled their lead four minutes on a similar play, this time with Dylan Smith wristing home from high in the slot with the man-advantage. Eastern replied before intermission, however, as Eagles captain Bret Kellogg’s nifty redirect of a Zach Maxwell point shot beat Saints starter Alex Sirard.
The teams traded chances throughout the second, but the period remained scoreless until Connor McLaughlin slammed home a Crawford rebound on yet another Saints power-play with just five seconds remaining in the frame. The goal came just a handful of seconds after Sirard made a breakaway save on Ryan Pajimola with a chance for EWU to tie the game.
Sirard maintained his perfect record and picked up his 11th win on the season with a 14-save effort. Greenwell was unlucky to take the loss following a 39-save performance.
Crawford, McLaughlin and Cody Fidgett all picked up two points on the night, while Jordan Wood picked up an assist and now holds a 6-point lead over linemate Logan Proulx stop the league scoring charts.
Sunday, Eastern snapped a 1-1 tie with four unanswered goals to rout the Saints. The final two markers came on speical teams, one power play and one shorthanded.
Selkirk is back in action with a two-game road trip.
The Saints meet TRU Friday in Kamloops before meeting SFU Saturday in Burnaby.
Selkirk concludes the regular season with a home-and-home series against Eastern Washington.
The first round of the playoffs are schedule for March 8-10.
Eastern and UVIC are currently tied for the fourth playoff spot, each with 17 points.