In what seems to be a common theme in SFU hockey games, first place in the BC Intercollegiate Hockey Leage (BCIHL) was on the line Saturday night against local rival Trinity Western. With SFU only ahead of the Spartans by a single point — and considering that Trinity Western had a game in hand — an SFU loss would have likely given Trinity Western control of their own destiny heading down the stretch in the race for first.
However, a revived Clan powerplay gave SFU a big 6–3 win to give them a three point cushion and their twelfth win of the season.
“The first ten, Trinity were good, they came out and battled hard,” said head coach Mark Coletta afterwards. “They took it to us and I think we kind of absorbed it and started playing and I think we took it to them for 80% of the game. Overall, it was a good game.”
In the first, it looked like it was shaping up to be a low scoring contest, as SFU had only five shots; Trinity, only seven. However, Daniell Lange scored on the powerplay with 18 seconds left on the clock to give the Clan a 1–0 lead heading into the break.
In the second, SFU struggled to start as Florian Niedermaier and Dirk de Waal scored — the latter shorthanded — to give the visitors the lead. Just under 30 seconds after, Daniell Lange struck again on the powerplay to tie it up. From there, SFU would score five straight, three on the powerplay, to give SFU the win.
It was a night of rejuvenation for the SFU powerplay. Coming into this game, the powerplay was five for 31 since the season started up again in mid-January, including a game where they had 16 attempts. This game, they were four for seven and looked dangerous.
“I think it’s confidence and moving the puck well” said Coletta on what made the powerplay click. “We’ve got a good bunch of guys that can really play the game. They’re skillful, [and] I think sometimes they think too much and they get a bit of pressure knowing last night they couldn’t score. I think they did a good job of moving the puck and getting to those open lanes.”
Another major development to come out of this game was the status of Mitch Crisanti. SFU’s leading goal scorer before the game, he will no longer be with the team due to academic reasons. It will be up to the many weapons that SFU has up front to make up for his goal scoring abilities.
“I think the first semester we were scoring by committee, so I think we’ll continue with that” said Coletta. “We’ve got guys like [Scott] Patterson and [Adam] Callegari and all these guys who can do what they should be doing. But everybody has to come on board and start scoring. I think we’ve got a bunch of offensive guys that can do a real good job. I’ll give them all the creativity they want on the offensive side, as long as they don’t turn the pucks over and do a good job in our D zone.”
With the SFU defence now seemingly healthy, it begs the question of whether Brandon Tidy will slot back into defence once he returns to the line-up. A natural forward, he was playing back out of necessity early in the season when SFU was particularly hurting on the blueline. Coletta was non-committal on where he will play when he comes back.
“I think it’s confidence and moving the puck well,”
–head coach Mark Coletta on what’s changed on the powerplay
“He’s one of those players that does everything well,” said Coletta on the SFU captain. If he makes us better on the backend, we’ll keep him on the backend. If he makes us better up front, we’ll play him upfront. It depends on how healthy our six or seven are.”
Next Game: SFU doesn’t play again until Thursday, February 2, in a rematch against Trinity Western. After that however, they play Eastern Washington on the February 3 and Selkirk College on the February 4 — a stretch of three games in three nights.
“Well the health part and taking care of their bodies, that’s on our guys,” said Coletta on how the players will handle the compact schedule. “We give them plenty of rest. They should know and be responsible on how to make sure they’re doing good things.
“When it comes to being physical and in shape, we’ve been working them hard since August. They’re good athletes, they’re in shape, [and] we push them every practice. There’s not just one or two days of hard work; they work five, six days a week. I’m not worried about the three in three, it should be fine.”
All three games start at 7 p.m.