By: Dylan Webb
SFU hockey continued their outstanding second half of the season at Bill Copeland Sports Centre on Saturday night with a 6–2 win over Eastern Washington University (EWU). The win was the fourth time SFU has defeated EWU this season and they will look for the sweep of the season series two weekends from now when they hop on a bus for the classic Castlegar-Cheney road trip. The win was a solid team effort as the Clan stuck with their recent trend of consistent play to outmatch the struggling Eagles and cranked up the pressure on the second place Selkirk Saints. The offensive depth of the Clan was on full display in this one as seven players registered multi-point games. Among these efforts was first-year player Nathan Washington’s first BC Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) goal that, along with an assist, also gave him the first multi-point game of his BCIHL career. There were numerous other strong performances in this game as Nicholas Holowko, Mac Colasimone, Spencer Unger, Robert Izsak, Brendan Lamont, and Eric Callegari all enjoyed two-point nights.
The only adversity the Clan faced in this game was early on as EWU got off to a flying start with two goals in the first period. SFU’s team defence wasn’t as sharp as the team would like it to be early in this one and this, along with having given up the first goal of the game multiple times recently, could be an area of the game SFU looks to improve going forward. The Clan would not allow this early adversity to obstruct their path to victory for long, though, as Lamont and Holowko would answer league-leading scorer Beau Walker’s 15th of the season with two quick ones to end the period and furnish SFU with a 3–2 lead heading into the second.
The second period saw Washington and Holowko score to provide the Clan with all the insurance they would need. Throughout the second, SFU established its dominance and made it clear that the Clan would not take the Eagles lightly despite their abysmal regular season record.
In the third, the SFU power play connected as Mathew Berry-Lamontagna potted his ninth goal of the year. His goal capped a night of solid team play as the Clan rode the 6–2 lead to victory. The three stars of the game, respectively, were Holowko, Washington, and Lamont as SFU won its second game in February and benefited from a solid performance in which all four lines contributed. When asked about the Clan building momentum for a playoff push, Washington emphasized a strong teamwork ethic and “everyone embracing their roles and maximizing what they can do with them.” This awareness of individual players’ roles within the team structure has been a foundational aspect of the balanced offensive attack SFU has enjoyed throughout most of the season. Washington also emphasized that the importance of upcoming games will only increase, as the significance of home ice advantage in the first round looms large over the final weeks of the season. He noted that throughout the season series thus far, “home ice has been a deciding factor between the Clan and Saints” and that the team must therefore “treat every game going forward like a playoff game” in order to give themselves the best possible chance to host the first round of playoffs.
The importance of the win versus Trinity Western last week for team confidence and, especially, playoff positioning was unquestionable as the Clan now sit just five points behind the second place Saints with a game in hand and only five games remaining in the regular season. However, with two big games against the Saints coming up this month, the Clan know that they control their own destiny as far as home ice advantage and a second place overall finish are concerned. Despite the importance of the two games against Selkirk coming up over the next two weeks, the Clan must avoid looking past the Vancouver Island University (VIU) Mariners who come into the Bill Copeland Sports Centre on Monday for a Family Day contest.
With yet another win in 2018, Stanwood added to his league-leading win total (12). Lyndon Stanwood made his 19th start the season, his 15th in a row and only needed to play two periods and stop ten shots to secure the win as he was relieved by backup goaltender Ryan Sandrin to start the third period. Sandrin, playing in just his second game of the season, stopped all eight shots he faced including two nice glove saves with under a minute left in the game. The Clan has relied heavily on Stanwood as they fight for second place and home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs and will likely continue to do so.
Overall, the Clan have continued their dominant second half of the 2018 season. Though not set in stone yet, the playoff picture is shaping up as SFU lines up to likely play Selkirk in the first round regardless of which team eventually clinches home ice advantage. Irrespective of the final shape of the playoff picture, it will undoubtedly be a challenging first round for the Clan. With the win over EWU, Simon Fraser moves to a 13–6–1 record in BCIHL regular season play.
As the team looks to peak come playoff time, they face off against VIU one last time before hosting Selkirk the following weekend. You can watch the Clan continue their playoff push on Family Day at Bill Copeland Sports Centre against the VIU Mariners. Please note the unusual 4 p.m. start as the game has been scheduled to accommodate other family day festivities at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre.