Saints Split Opening Exhibition Series with Trail Smoke Eaters
The Selkirk Saints Men’s Hockey Team opened the exhibition season with a pair of hard fought and exciting games against the Trail Smoke Eaters in a showcase that provided a taste of what’s to come for the 2014-15 campaign.
The inter-league set matched the two-time defending British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) champions against the region’s only British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) squad. The outcome was two intense games that tested the early season talents on both clubs.
Saturday night was a fitting finish to a great weekend of hockey as the Smokies triumphed over the Saints with a 5-4 double overtime victory at the Cominco Arena. A quick pace and end-to-end action in the third and overtime periods made up for the mediocre first and second frames.
Selkirk Saints veteran defenceman Stefan Gonzales weaves his way through the Trail Smoke Eaters defence during Saturday night’s match at the Cominco Arena.
The Smoke Eaters came out with a vengeance and controlled play in the earlygoing earning 1-0 and 3-1 leads in each of the first two periods. Craig Zuccarini, Craig Martin and Dallas Calvin potted goals for the home team while Jackson Garrett notched a goal for Selkirk. The Saints came alive in the third, scoring three times on goals from Matt Martin and Mason Spear (2). Brendan Volpe tallied for Trail which knotted the game, sending it to overtime.
“We didn’t start the game the way any team would want to,” said Saints new head coach Alex Evin. “We had slow feet in our zone and didn’t compete our hardest to win any puck battles, especially when we had numbers. However, we have to give Trail credit because they played with a lot of intensity, which complemented their speed and skill very well.
“Our goaltenders Mike Vlanich and James Prigione kept the game within reach with some huge saves throughout the game and it allowed us to claw back and make a game of it in the second half.”
Midway through the second overtime period that included back-and-forth three on three action, the Smokies persistence paid off when Martin tallied his second of the night off a beautiful feed from Zane Shartz. Both teams traded multiple scoring chances that included a penalty shot save by 16-year-old Smokies’ netminder Solomon Burk who came into the game in the third period to make his Junior A debut.
Both teams introduced each other during an epic battle Friday night at the Castlegar Community Complex. A crowd of more than 400 was treated to a fast paced game from beginning to end, including big hits and great goals. Selkirk earned a hard fought 7-4 victory increasing their impressive home unbeaten streak to 30 games.
Newcomer Ryan Edwards led the way for the Saints with a hat trick while Ryan Henderson, Tylor Branzsen, Darnell Dyck and Thomas Hardy added singles. Scoring for the Smoke Eaters was Zuccarini (2), Ryan Swanson and Keenan Scott. The Saints goaltending duties were shared by Prigione and Steven Glass.
“I hope everyone in attendance enjoyed these hockey games,” said Evin. “They were intense and fast. Both had exciting finishes and both teams respect one another. We wish the Smokies a great season and will support them any way we can.”
SAINTS NOTES: The Saints lost second year defenseman Ryan Procyshyn to a broken ankle suffered in Saturday’s loss…. The next exhibition games for the Saints include a rematch of the BCIHL Championship final when they host Trinity Western University at the Cominco Arena on Friday, September 19 at 7:00 p.m. … Grant MacEwan University from the Alberta College Athletic Conference then visits the Saints September 27 at 7:00 p.m. and September 28 at 11:00 a.m. at Castlegar Community Complex... Selkirk will start the BCIHL season on the road the first two weekends in October after which they will commemorate their second straight BCIHL Championship with a banner raising ceremony at the October 17 home opener.