By: Dylan Webb
On Saturday night, SFU Hockey defeated one of their main rivals, the Selkirk Saints, in dramatic fashion. Playing at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre, the Clan overcame a season-high fourteen minor penalties against (of which Selkirk capitalized on only two) and a one-goal deficit late in the third period, securing their most exciting win of the season. The Clan is now 3–2 on the year and moving into second place in the BCIHL standings, behind only the surging Vancouver Island University Mariners.
In the first period, the Saints opened the scoring halfway through the frame with a power-play goal from Parker Wakaruk. Soon after, with three minutes left in the period, the Saints doubled their lead on another power-play tally, this time from Dylan Heppler. This was a tough first period for the Clan, once again featuring the penalty-box parade that’s been SFU’s biggest struggle this season, and it looked to be setting the team up for a rough night.
Fortunately, while the Clan would take an unprecedented number of minor penalties throughout the game, their even-strength performance and team grit would shine through and keep the game competitive for the remaining 40 minutes.
The Clan’s turnaround started late in the second, with overtime hero Mitch Newsome continuing his early-season hot streak with an even-strength goal assisted by Graham Smerek and Matthew Berry-Lamontagna. The goal brought the Clan within one heading into the third, and it wound up being an important factor in what would end up being a thrilling overtime victory over a key rival.
Jaret Babych and Berry-Lamontagna both scored in the third period to build on Newsome’s late-second-period tally as the Clan temporarily tied the game halfway through the third. After an unfortunate bounce resulted in an ugly unassisted goal by Selkirk forward Nolan Percival, however, the Saints restored their lead. Late-period heroics by Mac Colasimone, scoring on a short-handed breakaway with just under four minutes remaining, tied the game and forced what would prove to be a dramatic overtime period.
In overtime, the Clan were forced to kill off the remainder of a major penalty that Babych received late in third period. This was quite a challenge, requiring multiple key saves from Ryan Sandrin in net and some gritty performances by key Clan penalty killers. After successfully killing off the major and drawing the Saints into taking a high-sticking penalty in the overtime period, Newsome would strike again, sniping top corner off a scramble in front of the Saints net. The goal sent the Clan into a frenzy and the crowd home happy after a satisfying and entertaining win for the home team.
Between the pipes, Sandrin earned his second win of the BCIHL regular season in as many nights, stopping 20 of 24 shots. After just two starts and three appearances overall, Sandrin is already establishing himself as a goaltender who gives the team a fighting chance on any given night.
Coach Mark Coletta, taking on a more celebratory tone than he usually does post-game, emphasized the pride he felt watching his team sweep a key two-game weekend — a weekend that was made much more challenging by heavy travel and a quick turnaround following the Friday night game in Victoria.
“Right now, I’m honestly just proud of our boys for sticking with it in the face of adversity and securing a key two points,” Coletta said, following the win.
Assistant coach Matt Grassi echoed these sentiments, calling the Clan’s play this game one of the most outstanding performances that he has witnessed in his junior and pro hockey career.
Following the most important win of their season, Simon Fraser will have a week of practice to continue strengthening their team systems before setting up for a home-and-home double header against the visiting first-place VIU Mariners, held on November 2 and 3.
Come out to the Bill Copeland arena to take in some BCIHL action this weekend and support the Clan in their quest for top spot in the league.