The Selkirk College Saints … a group with discipline and focus to go with undeniable talent, came to the Castlegar Complex Saturday night on a mission.
The outcome of the second and deciding game of the best of three final versus the Trinity Western University Spartans was never really in doubt as the hosts jumped to the task from the get-go.
The game plan was straight forward: play like the previous night, a 6-1 win. The Saints were able to do just that, controlling the play in all zones of the ice… most frequently… in the Spartans’ end.
A motivated and efficient crew… the Saints clearly dominated. With the timely early scoring they effectively put the visitors on their heels and kept them there.
Selkirk started the onslaught with first period goals by Marcus McCrea (Mason Spear & Matthew Luongo); Jackson Garrett on the power play (Darnell Dyck); and Logan Proulx, again with the man advantage, helped out by Thomas Hardy and Stefan Gonzales.
Trinity would get within a pair in the second period, it was enough to give the hosts a bit of a jolt. With the shots at 30-8 for Saints, TWU made #9 count, with 7:57 to go in the 2nd period…Murphy from Bakken and Stephenson
Selkirk would then regain its three goal lead, up 4-1 with four to go in the second period, a shorthanded effort by Connor McLaughin from Swiston. A slapper from left point, top glove side corner. From then on it was a case of clock watching and steadily building anticipation.
The final score was sealed as the Saints went up 5-1 just over three minutes into the third period – Jackson Garrett with his second of the game, assisted by Cody Fidgett.
The remainder of the game was over in a flash, with an understandable level of frustration exhibited by the Spartans, although, also, a pleasing minimum of chippiness.
The hooting and hollering took centre stage as silver and gold medals were dispensed to the Spartans and Saints, respectively.
“We just really wanted to come out on them strong,” said Saints’ forward Markus McCrea outside the jubilant Saints’ dressing room. “We showed in the first game that when we got a nice lead that, they wouldn’t fold, but it would be tougher for them to make any kind of comeback.”
Logan Proulx was singing a familiar tune following the impressive win.
“It’s tough to describe,” the captain enthused, “the boys battled hard. We did everything we needed to do… that we’ve done all season to get to this point.”
Jackson Garrett, a strong offensive contributor in the title clinching game, said the plan was followed to a T.
“There was no thinking of us being better than them, or not,” he said. “We had to play them even keel. We came out and executed our game plan. We put pucks in the net when we needed to.”
Coach Jeff DuBois, customarily thoughtful and forthcoming, echoed the importance of following the script for success.
“We knew that strong starts were going to be key against Trinity Western,” he related. “They’ve been a team through the playoffs that has thrived on getting ahead in games then playing pretty tight and making it tough for you to beat them.
“Going up three nothing last night and then again tonight was big for us.”
Credit was directed to every member of the squad, and special recognition was aimed by the coach at the line of
three graduating players: Scott Swiston, Connor McLaughlin and Beau Taylor.
“They’ve just been phenomenal for us all season,” DuBois related. “Their responsibility has been to shut down the other teams’ top line.”
Their effectiveness was most recently apparent in the neutralizing of high scoring Spartan J.P. Villeneuve.
“We knew he was a guy we needed to pay real close attention to,” said the Selkirk head coach.
Gracious and accommodating, Trinity Western coach Barret Kropf commented as the team bus was about to be loaded.
“Jeff and the guys here with the Saints… they’ve got a great program,” said Kropf. “For both games they just kept coming at us for the full 60 minutes. We did our part to battle through some adversity. But at the end of the night they were the better team.”
The Spartans simply ran headlong into an outfit that was not going to be denied.
“When we got through the series with Simon Fraser, I thought that on paper, SFU was the stronger team and we were just able to outwork them,” Kropf related.
“In this series, Selkirk was the better team on paper, and they outworked us. So, anytime you can put great effort with great talent you’re going to win championships. That’s what Jeff’s done with this program.”