LANGLEY, British Columbia –Trinity Western forward Evan Last scored two first period goals in 17 seconds to pace the Spartans to a 4-1 victory over the visiting Selkirk Saints to open up the BCIHL semi-finals Thursday night at George Preston Arena in Langley, B.C. The win gives the Spartans a 1-0 lead in the best of three semi-final.
"It was a good 60-minute effort, from Silas all the way through to our 18 skaters we had a great game tonight, and when you do that in the play-offs most of the time, you will get a good result," commented TWU head coach Barret Kropf. "We know in their barn the last couple of years in the finals they have come out and put us down two or three nothing early. We knew if we could just come out and catch them a little off guard with a couple of big shifts that we would be able to set the tone."
"Our guys just wanted to keep things simple. We were disciplined for the most part; we got into a few snags in the third period with some penalties. But the guys really showed some character making some big blocks and staying strong defensively."
The Spartans did not give the Saints time to get settled into their first playoff road game. Last opened the scoring at 3:19 and followed it up at 3:36 of the opening frame. TWU's Cody Stephenson got the third goal for the Spartans on the power play at 14:28 to give TWU a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Trinity Western's Florian Niedermaier made it a 4-0 lead for TWU with his first goal of the post season at 3:26 of the second period. TWU would take the four-goal lead into the final period of play.
Selkirk's Jack Mills got the visitors from Castlegar, B.C. on the board at 1:05 of the third period to make it a three-goal margin, 4-1.
The Saints had a number of power-play opportunities midway through the period, including two five on three's, when TWU took three straight penalties in 3:20 seconds. However, TWU's Silas Matthys held the Saints off the board for the remainder of the game to give the Spartans the 4-1 opening game victory.
The Spartans had the edge in the first 20 minutes, outshooting the Saints 14-8, but over the next two periods, it was Selkirk who had the advantage. Selkirk outshot TWU 11-7 in the second period and 18-2 in the third. The Saints finished the night with a 37-23 advantage.
TWU finished the night 1-6 on the power-play, while Selkirk went scoreless in 0-7 opportunities with the man advantage.
Silas Matthys earned the win stopping 36 of the Saints shots. Selkirk's Brett Huber played the first 3:36 and made two saves on four shots, while Austin Wells finished up the game making 17 saves on 19 shots faced.
The two teams will play game two of the best of three series Friday night at 7:00 p.m. at the George Preston Recreation Centre in Langley, B.C.
Game Notes: TWU, who usually play at the Langley Events Centre, are playing the first round of the play-offs because of scheduling conflicts with the BC Boys High School Basketball Provincial Championships…both teams finished the night with 24 minutes in penalties… tonight's game was the first play-off road game for the Saints. Selkirk has won four straight BCIHL titles, but have never had to go on the road until this season…