Saints face Spartans in showdown to decide BCIHL champion

first_img“We faced TWU five times during the regular season and saw firsthand the tremendous growth and improvement they experienced over the course of the year,” said Saints head coach Jeff Dubois.”We like to think of ourselves as a group that’s very tough to out-work, but they’ve certainly provided stiff competition in that area.” The Saints will also have to be weary of a pair of TWU rookies who have proven themselves to be breakout stars in the BCIHL this season. Forward J.P. Villeneuve carried the Spartans offensively during the regular season and was a difference-maker in both of the Spartans’ first round wins over SFU, scoring five of his team’s seven goals in the series.On Tuesday, the 22-year old’s status as one of the league’s elite players was cemented when he was named a co-winner of the BCIHL’s Most Valuable Player award and picked unanimously as the Rookie of the Year. And in goal, Trinity Western is sure to continue to lean on Silas Matthys after the Swiss product posted a 1.67 goals-against average and .957 save-percentage in three first-round games.The 21-year old is also well-known to Saints shooters after a pair of outstanding performances in Castlegar late in the regular season.On February 14th, Matthys turned aside 60 of 63 shots in a narrow Selkirk win. And on March 1st, with the Saints needing a victory to clinch a first place regular season finish, he stopped 48 of 51 shots in an eventual overtime loss. “Matthys and Villeneuve are both top-end players in our league, but the rest of their team hasn’t gotten anywhere near enough credit for how well they defend, their discipline level, and their willingness to get the puck to dirty areas in the offensive zone and make things unpleasant on their opponents defensively,” Dubois explained. “So we enter this series with a very healthy respect level for how tough a team they are to play against and we know they’ll have some new wrinkles in their game this weekend. Their compete level is so high that it will neutralize some of the areas where we typically have an advantage on teams if we come into these games at anything less than 100% intensity. There’s just no room to make soft plays against them.” But just as the Spartans are sure to offer a tough test for Selkirk, so too will the Saints challenge a TWU squad that failed to post a win in the five-game season series between the teams. Selkirk boasts nine of the BCIHL’s top 20 scorers and has three forward lines that have posed a consistent offensive threat this season.The squad scored a league-best 133 goals during the regular season while also setting a BCIHL record for the fewest goals allowed in a season with 53.The Saints’ power-play and penalty killed both ranked tops in the league during the regular season and the team hasn’t lost a regulation contest since November 22nd, a stretch that now spans 16 games. The entire BCIHL Finals series will be played in Castlegar, with Game 2 set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and Game 3, if necessary, to take place at 6 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets for all games will be available in advance at Mallards Source for Sports in Castlegar or from the Recreation Counter at Selkirk’s Castlegar campus, as well as at the door on game nights. Playoff tickets are for $10 for Adults and $6 for Selkirk students & staff, seniors, and children/youth 6 & older. All three games against the Spartans can also be viewed live online at www.FastHockey.com. The Selkirk College Men’s Hockey program will look to capture their second consecutive B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League championship this weekend when they take on Trinity Western University in a best-of-three 2014 League Finals series beginning Friday.Faceoff for Game 1 is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Castlegar Rec Complex. While many had assumed that the Saints were bound to face Simon Fraser University in the finals for the second time in as many seasons, Trinity Western spoiled the second-place Clan’s postseason plans on Sunday with a 4-1 victory in Game 3 of their semi-final series in Burnaby. So what should Selkirk College fans expect from a Saints-Spartans series?It’s bound to be a prototypical playoff battle, as both teams earned their spot in the championships by putting together full 60-minute efforts that featured hard work and intense, hard-hitting action at both ends of the ice.last_img