By: Dylan Webb
The SFU men’s hockey team saw their push for a BCIHL championship come to an end in a disappointing fashion on Friday night at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre. With graduating seniors Ryan Sandrin, Darnel St. Pierre, Jaret Babych, Graham Smerek, Brendan Lamont, and Matthew Berry-Lamontagna making their final appearance in Clan red, the team was swept in its three-game first-round series by the defending league champion Trinity Western University Spartans.
The wheels fell off early for the Clan in their second playoff loss in as many nights to the defending champions. TWU scored all three of the goals that were netted in the period, courtesy of Villio, Gerth and Batke, and took an immediate stranglehold on the game by outshooting the Clan 22–6 in the first. Goaltender Michael Lenko was responsible for keeping the deficit at just three after the opening twenty minutes.
In the middle frame, the Clan got one back early in the period on a tally by forward Mitch Ledyard. However, continuing a trend set the night before in the opening game of the series, the Spartans responded to the Clan’s goal immediately to reclaim their three-goal lead heading into the third period.
In what turned out to be the final period of play of the 2018/2019 BCIHL season for the Clan, Ledyard added another goal, his second of the game, to cut the deficit to two. That was as close as the Clan would get to securing what would have been their first victory in a BCIHL playoff game in over four years as the Spartans would add an empty netter to secure the game and the series. The Spartans now await the winner of the Selkirk/VIU series as they look to repeat as BCIHL champions.
Rookie goaltender Michael Lenko started again between the pipes for the Clan, stopping 36 of 40 shots after making 35 saves on 41 shots in the game one loss. While his playoff statistics are out of line with his solid regular season numbers, they fail to account for the role Lenko played in keeping the Clan in both playoff games for as long as possible despite the relentless Spartan forecheck.
Having now been eliminated from the first round of the BCIHL playoffs, returning Clan players and coaching staff look toward a long off season in which the team will hope to make adjustments that will allow it to rekindle the BCIHL playoff success the team enjoyed earlier in the decade. With recruitment decisions looming and key roster holes to fill up and down the line up, head coach Mark Coletta and director of hockey operations Chris Munshaw have their work cut out for them as they look to use the summer months to build up the SFU men’s ice hockey team for more consistency and playoff success in the 2019/2020 BCIHL season.