By: Dylan Webb
In a Sunday afternoon tilt, the SFU hockey team made their last trip of the 2017–18 season to the Eastern Washington University (EWU) Recreation Complex. The game was a must-win for the Clan and their steadily dimming hopes for a second place BC Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) finish. Continuing to fight for the right to host a first round playoff series despite having lost control of their fate with an OT loss in Castlegar the night before, SFU continued its dominance of EWU with a 6–2 win. The Clan now face the challenging reality of needing a win in their final game of the season vs. University of Victoria (UVIC), plus a regulation time loss by the Selkirk Saints to the Vancouver Island University (VIU) Mariners on the same day, in order for the team to avoid heading back up to Castlegar to start the BCIHL playoffs in the second week of March. This combination of a Clan win and a Selkirk regulation time loss is the only scenario in which the Clan will host a playoff series this season and, with Selkirk having defeated VIU three of four times already this season, this possibility is unlikely.
The Clan’s dominance began early in the first with veteran forward Pavlo Zerebecky finishing off a glorious give and go play with Ryker Moreau to give SFU a 1–0 lead just a few minutes into the game. Another veteran, Tyler Basham, recovering from some recent shoulder issues, appeared to be in fine form with a beautiful snipe of his own to furnish the Clan and starting goaltender Lyndon Stanwood with a 2–0 lead heading into the second period.
The offensive onslaught continued immediately after the puck dropped to begin the second period with Mathew Berry-Lamontagna and Ian Mackey adding tallies just a couple minutes into the frame. While Eastern Washington would respond with two consecutive power play goals to halve the Clan lead, defenceman Austin Adam would continue his recent uptick in offensive production with another goal to ensure a three-goal lead heading into the third period.
The third period saw the team ride their lead to victory with Jaret Babych padding his goal total to round out the scoring that resulted in a 6–2 final. Clearly, the frustration of the loss the night before in Selkirk, and the playoff implications of the loss, didn’t distract the Clan from doing what they knew was necessary to put the pressure on Selkirk to win their final game on the final day of the regular season. Despite this pressure for Selkirk, clinching second place now simply requires a point in their final game of the season, or an SFU loss in their final game.
In goal, Stanwood picked up his league-leading 15th win of the season. Given the continued playoff implications of the final game of the season vs. UVIC, Stanwood is expected to start. He has started the most games in the BCIHL this season (23).
Despite the win in Cheney, the weekend left the Clan’s goals unsatisfied as they now await their likely playoff fate of a first round matchup with Selkirk in Castlegar. The loss for the Clan in Castlegar is undoubtedly one they will have to quickly recover from as they make plans to hop back on a bus to Castlegar in March and seek their first win of the year in that building. Undoubtedly, the Clan could easily erase their frustrating history in Castlegar this year with some playoff success in what is known as the most challenging building to play in in the league.
The Clan are back at it next Saturday, March 3, for the final game of the regular season. The team faces off against a fifth place UVIC squad that has struggled mightily since winning the league title last season. SFU looks to sharpen up in their remaining game in order to prepare for what is now almost the inevitability of heading back to Castlegar for a tough first round series against the Saints.
You can catch the final game of the season at home at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre against at 7 p.m. While the possibility of home ice advantage in the first round is increasingly unlikely, the Clan will do everything they can in the remaining week of the regular season to give themselves a shot at hosting some BCIHL playoff action.