After four straight losses, the Clan needed a win in the worst possible way, and their Saturday game against Eastern Washington University (EWU) Eagles seemed to be a match made in heaven.
Coming into the game, the Eagles had let in a league-high 95 goals this season, close to five a game. They had also scored the least amount of goals — 48 in total — and held the worst record in the league at 5–13. But as the Clan were soon to find out, the Eagles were no pushovers, as they had to fight to the bitter end to get a 5–4 win in the shootout.
“I thought we played well,” head coach Mark Coletta told The Peak. “Obviously when you get a win after four games it’s a good feeling, so we had to battle for everything we got and we found a way to win.”
The first period started with an early SFU powerplay, which generated some good chances. However, Eastern Washington would strike first when Eagles forward Ricky Doubrava was left all alone in front of Clan netminder Dominic Stadnyk, and out-waited him to slide it underneath his outstretched glove.
SFU scored two before the end, with goals by Mathew Berry-Lamontagna from the point and Jono Ceci from the side of the net to make it 2–1. Both came on the powerplay, which became a recurring theme throughout the evening. After a scrum in the corner, the Eagles’ Beau Walker and Berry-Lamontagna ended the period with offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. The Clan peppered the opposing goalie with 21 shots in the opening frame.
The Eagles dominated the second period, using four-on-four play to control the puck and generate the most scoring chances in the period. They were rewarded with the tying goal at the 14:55 mark. EWU Defenseman JR Strait blasted one by Stadnyk, a one-timer from just under the right faceoff dot. They added another one courtesy of Jason Shuck, an easy tap in after a defensive gaffe from SFU. The shots in the second favoured the Eagles, 13–5.
SFU got off to a perfect start in the third, scoring eight seconds in. Ceci passed it cross crease to Nick Sandor who had a wide open cage to bury the puck in another powerplay goal. They took back the lead at the 7:02 mark on the powerplay, with Graham Smerek whacking away at the puck in the crease and getting a greasy goal to take back the lead.
But just as soon as the Clan got the lead, it was gone — the Eagles tied it up a minute later, with Tanner Hawes beating Stadnyk from the point to tie up. The rest of regulation and overtime solved nothing, so the game went to a shootout. Berry-Lamontagna scored the shootout winner, and SFU were awarded the two points.
Forwards Nick Sandor and Ceci had a strong night, and that was a crucial reason why the Clan were able to break the losing streak. “They’ve been struggling a bit so they have to find their way to get on the scoring sheet,” said coach Coletta. “They finally did tonight, and I thought that was a good thing for them because we’re going to need them down the stretch. They’ve been our big guns for the past two years so they’ve got to keep going.”