For the second year in a row, the season for SFU hockey came to a premature end.
After a 6–3 loss to the University of Victoria on Friday night, the Clan needed a win to keep the season alive. In that game, SFU had a 3–1 lead before giving up five straight goals to lose 6–3. If they stood a chance of bringing the series to a third and deciding game, they would need to limit the Vikes’ opportunities to score.
Unfortunately that didn’t happen. The final score was 5–3 for UVic, sending the visitors to the BC Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) final against Trinity Western.
SFU came out roaring to start the game, scoring two quick goals within two minutes of each other to take a 2–0 lead. It was another two-goal lead like the night before, but the Clan looked to be in control.
However, that’s when it started to unravel. Defenceman Jayden Piatelli was assessed a 10 minute misconduct for a check from behind. UVic scored on the ensuing power play, then added a late goal with the man advantage to tie it at two.
The second featured two more special teams goals for the Vikes, including a back-breaking short-handed goal that gave them the lead. In the third, Jack Palmer scored to make it 5–2 for the visitors before graduating senior Jesse Mysiorek scored one late to give SFU three goals on the night.
Special teams were undoubtedly the difference in this one. UVic went three-for-four with the man advantage, and scored short-handed as well. SFU, in contrast, wasn’t able to score on three power plays. This was also in contrast to the night before, where except for an empty net goal, all of UVic’s goals came at five-on-five.
Over the series SFU gave up 11 goals — an uncharacteristically poor defensive performance.
The Clan also outshot the Vikes 47–22 in the game — a nearly two to one advantage — but wasn’t able to beat goaltender Zach Wear for more than three goals.
It’s another bitter pill to swallow for SFU after ending their season in the same way last year. They improved in the standings by five points this season, and finished with two more wins. They scored 12 more goals and, more impressively, conceded 31 less goals. Yet it was the same result come playoff time.
Perhaps the silver lining is that the vast majority of this lineup will be returning next season. Offensive players such as Adam Callegari and Brendan Lamont, captain Brandon Tidy, defensive stalwarts Mathew Berry-Lamontagna and Darnell St. Pierre will all be highly motivated come next season.
And with both Jordan Liem and Lyndon Stanwood back as well, the team’s defensive shell should be intact.
Unfortunately, we’re going to have to wait nearly a year to see if next year’s edition is any different. Because like it or not, their success will likely solely be judged on how far they can make it in the playoffs.