The Selkirk College Saints captured their fourth straight British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) championship on Saturday night with a 2-1 victory over the Trinity Western University Spartans before a packed house at the Castlegar & District Recreation Complex.
More than 800 hockey fans packed the Castlegar arena to watch the Saints clinch the best-of-three final series and put the wraps on a magical season.
The Selkirk College Saints celebrated their BCIHL championship on Saturday before a crowd of more than 800 hockey fans. It’s the Saints fourth straight provincial title.
“It’s a pretty special feeling to win in front of a crowd like this,” said Saints’ forward Ryan Edwards who scored the game winning goal midway through the third period.
Needing a win to stay alive, the Spartans came out strong in the first period. BCIHL Goaltender of the Year James Prigione made several key saves to keep the game tied at zeroes after 20 minutes. The third-year goaltender continued his strong play early in the second period at which point the Spartans had the edge in shots.
Late in the second period, Edwards was hooked on a breakaway by Jeremy McIntosh. On the ensuing powerplay, Alex Milligan buried a Jamie Vlanich pass to give the Saints a 1-0 and bring the raucous crowd to its feet.
“I wanted to contribute in any way I could, especially for the guys who are in their final season here,” Milligan said after the game.
Saints forward Jamie Vlanich gets a shot off in front of the TWU goal on Saturday night. The Trail-raised Vlanich was one of many stars for the Saints in the regular season and post season.
The Saints threw 20 shots at Spartans’ goaltender Silas Matthys in the middle period, but only came away with a 1-0 lead after 40 minutes.
Five minutes into the third period, TWU forward Dirk de Waal worked his way out of the corner and beat Prigione high over the blocker side to tie the game. The Spartans kept the pressure on, but Prigone and the Saints defence were up to the task.
Midway through the final period, the Saints’ scoring line of Edwards, Dallas Calvin and Ryon Sookro came through when it mattered most. Calvin fed Sookro, who got a pass off to Edwards and the team’s leading scorer in the post-season buried the opportunity.
“That has to be right up there as far as goals,” said Edwards, who has notched plenty in his career. “It’s a good feeling to score a goal like that in a game like this.”
The Spartans didn’t quit and came hard in the final minutes, but the Saints held on for their fourth straight provincial championship.
Game One Never in Doubt
The Saints set up Saturday’s championship victory with a dominant 5-1 win in the series opener on Friday night. Edwards had four assists, Calvin notched a pair of goals with Ashton McLeod, Sookro and Vlanich provided the rest of the offence.
Selkirk College’s first goal on Friday night was scored just 24 seconds into the first period when McLeod’s shot from the point eluded Matthys. The Saints had 43 shots on the TWU net in what turned out to be a romp for the home side.
Alex Milligan's goal in Game Two was celebrated on the ice and in the stands where more than 800 hockey fans took in the championship game on Saturday evening.
The Saints were led offensively in the playoffs by four players who grew up playing minor hockey in the West Kootenay. Edwards, Calvin, Vlanich and Sookro all took their first strides in minor hockey programs in the Trail and Nelson areas.
“For both the local players and the out of town guys, we all feel the community support,” Calvin said after Saturday’s win when asked about the leadership of local players. “It’s great to win a championship with a dressing room of guys who come from all different backgrounds.”
Brent Heaven took over as the Saints’ head coach this past summer. After Saturday’s game, the bench boss said it took a group effort to make more hockey history at the Castlegar arena.
“We had some ups and downs this year, but overall from start to finish I think we showed people that we deserved the championship this year,” said Heaven. “It’s a long season and we accomplished what we set out to do. I couldn’t be prouder of the boys and obviously the staff that helped make it happen. This doesn’t happen without everybody working together.
“It’s a great accomplishment. Four in a row doesn’t happen very often and we are very honoured to be part of an exclusive group. We’re going to enjoy this and then get ready for a fifth.”