Selkirk College has achieved hockey sainthood.
The Selkirk College Saints captured their fourth straight British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League championship on Saturday night with a 2-1 victory over the Trinity Western University Spartans before a packed house at the Castlegar and District Recreation Complex.
More than 800 hockey fans watched the Saints clinch the best-of-three final series and put the wraps on a magical season.
“It’s a pretty special feeling to win in front of a crowd like this,” said Saints’ forward Ryan Edwards, who scored the game-winning goal midway through the third period.
Needing a win to stay alive, the Spartans came out strong in the first period. BCIHL goaltender of the year James Prigione made several key saves for the Saints to keep the game scoreless after 20 minutes. The third-year goaltender continued his strong play early in the second period at which point the Spartans had the edge in shots.
Late in the second period, Edwards was hooked on a breakaway by Jeremy McIntosh. Alex Milligan buried a Jamie Vlanich pass on the ensuing power play to give the Saints a 1-0 lead and bring the raucous crowd to its feet.
“I wanted to contribute in any way I could, especially for the guys who are in their final season here,” Milligan said.
The Saints fired 20 shots at Spartans’ goaltender Silas Matthys in the middle period, but only came away with a 1-0 lead after 40 minutes.
Five minutes into the third period, TWU forward Dirk de Waal worked his way out of the corner and beat Prigione high over the blocker side to tie the game. The Spartans kept the pressure on, but Prigione and the Saints defence were up to the task.
The Saints’ scoring line of Edwards, Dallas Calvin and Ryon Sookro came through when it mattered most midway through the period. Calvin fed Sookro, who got a pass off to Edwards and the team’s leading scorer in the post-season buried the opportunity.
“That has to be right up there as far as goals,” said Edwards, who has notched plenty in his career. “It’s a good feeling to score a goal like that in a game like this.”
The victory came a day after the Saints opened the series with a 5-1 win against the Spartans. Calvin scored twice Friday, while Ashton McLeod, Sookro and Vlanich added singles and Edwards had four assists.
Brent Heaven took over as the Saints’ head coach last summer. He said it took a group effort to make more hockey history.
“We had some ups and downs this year, but overall from start to finish I think we showed people that we deserved the championship this year,” said Heaven. “It’s a long season and we accomplished what we set out to do. I couldn’t be prouder of the boys and obviously the staff that helped make it happen. This doesn’t happen without everybody working together.
“It’s a great accomplishment. Four in a row doesn’t happen very often and we are very honoured to be part of an exclusive group. We’re going to enjoy this and then get ready for a fifth.”