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Mariners sweep past Selkirk Saints, advance to BCIHL final

Tyler Kerner of VIU is surrounded by Saints, including (71) Sawyer Hunt of Nelson, during BCIHL playoff action in Castlegar. — Saints Facebook page

For the first time in years, the Selkirk Saints have not advanced to the BC Intercollegiate Hockey League Finals.

Sparked by goalie Matt Huber, Vancouver Island University posted a two-game sweep of Selkirk with a 3-2 victory Saturday in Castlegar.

VIU became the first B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League team to ever beat Selkirk College on their home turf in a playoff series they also advanced to the program's first-ever appearance in the BCIHL Finals.

After blowing out the Saints by a 6-1 score on Friday night, the Mariners won a much closer contest in Game 2, with Gavin Rauser's empty netter late in regulation holding up as the game winner following a subsequent Selkirk tally.

Ryan Coghlan opened the scoring for the visitors with six minutes gone in the first period, and it took until midway through the second for Edward Lindsey to add the second goal of the night while bringing the Saints level. The Mariners responded quickly, however, as former Saints forward Tyler Kerner broke the deadlock before intermission.

Selkirk had the edge in shots and chances as they looked for an equalizer in the third period, but Rauser found the empty net with 1:16 remaining to provide VIU with some much-needed insurance. Tayden Woods responded for Selkirk with 49 seconds remaining to give the hosts a last-gasp shot at sending the game to overtime, but the Mariners held on for the win.

Huber earned his second win in as many nights, this time making 34 saves as VIU was outshot by a 36-25 margin.

With the victory, the Mariners advance to face the defending BCIHL champions, Trinity Western, in the finals. The series is set to begin Thursday in Langley.