SFU hockey dominate offensively, beat VIU for third time this season

Babych, Lamont, Colasimone show great chemistry in win

Mak Barden is one of six players that will be retiring from SFU hockey this year. (Photo courtesy of SFU hockey)

By: Dylan Webb

Returning home from a successful road sweep of the BC Intercollegiate Hockey League’s (BCIHL) Vancouver Island teams last weekend, the Simon Fraser University hockey team beat the Vancouver Island University (VIU) Mariners for the second time in two weeks on Friday night at Bill Copeland Sports Centre. Led by an offensive explosion courtesy of Brendan Lamont, Mac Colasimone, Jaret Babych, and Mak Barden that proved to be the difference, SFU won handily 5–1 with Colasimone scoring what would eventually be the game-winning goal late in the first period off a turnover at the side of the VIU net. The team has now won three straight games as they look forward to attempting to continue their winning streak in a meeting next week with their main rival, the Trinity Western Spartans.

SFU’s dominance began from the puck drop and held for a significant chunk of the first period. Lamont opened the scoring with a snipe from the top of the left circle at 4:55 of the first period. The goal was made possible by a solid break in and forecheck that had VIU hemmed in their zone for over a minute and a half straight. The goal gave Simon Fraser a 1–0 lead which they would add to before the period ended on an unassisted goal from Colasimone, his fourth of the season. With his two assists, he got his 15th, 16th, and 17th points of the season in only 11 games so far this campaign. Just before that, Jaret Babych, in Thomas Vanek-like fashion, made an outstanding no-look-behind-the-back pass that almost set up another SFU goal. Despite SFU having dominated for much of the first period, there were a couple defensive breakdowns that forced Lyndon Stanwood to be sharp with a few key saves throughout the period. The team carried its 2–0 lead out of the first and would proceed to open the game up in the second.

After VIU got within a goal toward the start of the second, Braxton Bilous smoothly released a quick snap shot from the point that found net to restore the two-goal SFU lead. With the assists, Lamont and Colasimone picked up multi-point games. The shot deficit widened further in the second as SFU’s offensive approach and clear advantage in time of possession in the VIU zone wore down their defence. The line made up of Babych, Lamont, and Colasimone was extremely effective in every period of the game, but especially the second, and was a major contributor to the win.

Of note was Tyler Basham picking up an assist late in the second and climbing into a tie for 50th in all-time BCIHL league scoring; that is the highest standing on the all-time list for any active SFU player. On the same note, Lamont had three points and pulled within one of joining Basham in the tie for 50th in all-time league scoring as both players continue to solidify their impressive BCIHL careers.

In the third period, SFU sealed the win with some strong defensive play and goaltending. The home team rode the 5–1 lead they established in the second to victory and continued to distance themselves from the fourth-place Mariners and cement the likelihood of their playoff position. The three stars of the game were unsurprisingly, Babych, Lamont, and Colasimone with Colasimone earning first-star accolades for his three-point night and energetic play. Having outshot VIU by an enormous margin of 44–25 by the end of the game, the offence was undoubtedly the story of the night.

In goal, Stanwood had a solid game with multiple key saves in tight for SFU, saving all but one of the shots that came his way. While the offensive outburst was the story of the night, Stanwood’s performance ensured the game was firmly in SFU’s grasp. This was his eighth win of the season and, with his goals against average continuing to fall, now into the mid 2.00s, he has quietly put together an impressive season that has helped the team remain firmly in a playoff spot despite some adversity in the first half.

When asked about his team’s performance, Stanwood pointed to the offensive outburst led by the line of Babych, Lamont, and Colasimone as a key factor in the win. “They showed some great chemistry out there tonight,” he said, adding that “the team as a whole put together a pretty consistent effort tonight” which has been a key to their recent success. The challenge now for SFU is to translate what, at times, has been dominance of the teams below them in the standings into winning efforts against Trinity and Selkirk, first and second in the league respectively, so that they can make up some ground in the race for home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. As far as Stanwood is concerned, the team has a good shot at catching one or both of the teams ahead of them as long as they can “maintain that consistency” and “find a way to keep putting together full 60-minute efforts.” With three wins in January, the team is showing their ability to do just that through the first few weeks of 2018.

With the victory on Friday, Simon Fraser are now firmly in third place in the BCIHL, with a 9–5–0 record. SFU looks to continue narrowing the gap in the standings between themselves and the top two teams in the league next week. They will head to the Langley events centre on Thursday for a 7 p.m. puck drop against the Spartans.