By: Dylan Webb
SFU hockey dropped their last regular season meeting with the Trinity Western University Spartans 7–3 at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre on Family Day. The loss concluded the season series between the two teams with SFU winning just two of six matchups with their Langley-based rivals. More importantly for the Clan at this point in the season, the loss cost them a valuable two points in a tight playoff race for second place and home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
In the first, the Spartans leapt out to an immediate one-goal lead within a minute of the beginning of the frame. The Spartans built their lead throughout the first period by converting on power-play and odd-man rush opportunities. After getting one back on a seeing-eye point shot from captain Matthew Berry-Lamontagna, the Clan found themselves trailing 3–1 after the first period.
In the second, the Clan were able to regain their defensive structure and keep the puck out of their own net. Also benefiting from an impressive conversion on a partial breakaway by Mitch Newsome, the Clan won the period and found themselves within just one goal heading into the third.
Unfortunately for the Clan, the wheels came off in the third period as the Spartans scored a couple of goals early in the frame to put the game out of reach and chase goaltender Ryan Sandrin. The Spartans would add an empty netter late to cap a 7–3 win that only padded a first-place record that they had clinched a night before with a win over the VIU (Vancouver Island University) Mariners.
Discussing the loss following the game, defenseman Daniyal Nussipakynov pointed to “inconsistent play as an entire team” that resulted in the relatively large margin of defeat. Asked about the need for a 4–0 sweep of their remaining games, while not allowing a single point to Selkirk on the final weekend of play, Nussipakynov reiterated the team’s commitment to “taking it one game at a time while understanding the process that will lead us to the championship.”
The Clan will now have to face the possibility of playing the Spartans in the first round if they are unable to take at least six of eight points in their remaining four contests given that the Spartans have clinched first place in the league for the second year in a row. If the Clan are able to take four points from UVIC this coming weekend, it would set up a double header with the visiting Selkirk Saints that would have extensive playoff implications.
Regardless of these implications for playoff seeding, though, the Clan will have to focus on building momentum for the playoffs against the last-place UVIC Vikes. The Clan will host all of their remaining four games at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre with the Vikes visiting this coming weekend followed by the Selkirk Saints.