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SPARTANS KNOCK OFF SELKIRK IN BATTLE BETWEEN TOP TWO TEAMS

Written by Tessa Ratzlaff

LANGLEY, B.C. – Trinity Western's men's hockey team bettered its program-high for wins in a season, earning its 18th victory of the year, with a 6-4 win over Selkirk Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.

In a battel between the top two teams in the BCIHL, Evan Last (Surrey, B.C.) led the Spartans with one goal and three assists, while Kaleb Denham (Innisfail, Alta), Kade Vilio (Aldergrove, B.C.), Jordan Rendle (Surrey, B.C.), Dirk de Waal (Lethbridge, Alta), and Elijah Vilio (Aldergrove) each scored one goal.

The Spartans (18-4-0-0) scored four unanswered goals to rally from a 4-2 second-period deficit. A power play goal from Last midway through the middle frame sparked the comeback before Rendle evened the score with 1:40 left in the second period.

De Waal earned the game-winner at 4:43 of the third period.

With the win, TWU is now four points up on the Saints (15-6-0-2) for first place in the BCIHL. The Spartans need one win in their final three games to clinch top spot. The Spartans previous best record was in 2014-15 when they posted a record of 17-5-0-2.

Selkirk's goal scorers were Dane Feeney (Campbell River, B.C.), Grant Iles (Whistler, B.C), Jack Mills (Delta, B.C.), and Derek McPhail (Kamanistiquia, ON).

Silas Matthys (Wollerua, CH) stopped 20 of the 24 shots he faced. Brett Huber took the loss, allowing six goals on 27 shots.

Denham scored his first goal of the season halfway through the first quarter, assisted by Last and Florian Niedermaier (Davos, Switzerland). Shortly after, Kade Vilio (Aldergrove,) took a pass from Brayden Brown (Calgary) and beat the defenceman before tucking it past Selkirk goalie Brett Huber. Jarrett Fontaine (Humbolt, Sask) also picked up an assist on this play.

Toward the end of the first period, Feeney and Mills traded goals, making it 2-2 through 20 minutes.

Halfway through the second, McPhail scored a quick one-timer, burying a cross-crease pass into the right side of the net, which put the Saints up 4-2. The Spartans fought back, and Last scored with a slap shot on net, after taking a feed from Dustin Deugau. Brandon Potomak (Aldergrove) started the play with a cross-ice saucer pass that found Deugau.

Then, late in the second period, Rendle pounced on a rebound off a shot from Deugau and flicked it home to tie the game 4-4.

Five minutes into the third, Last sent a pass from the right wing to the front of the net where de Waal pushed the puck past Huber and into the net. With a minute left, the Saints pulled their goalie, but the Spartans Elijah Vilio shot the puck from outside the Selkirk blue line, and scored an empty-netter with 27 seconds to go.

QUOTABLE
Head Coach Barret Kropf
"It was a frustrating first 20 minutes. For as important of a game as it was, I thought our guys came out pretty flat. Even though we got that lead, it was a dangerous 20 minutes. We challenged the guys to be a different team for the last 40 minutes and the guys responded. Once we saw our guys blocking some shots, we could tell that we were going. Five-on-five, our speed is hard to handle for a lot of teams, so we need to find ways to be disciplined."

On setting a program record for wins in a season
"We knew that it was possible. The way last year ended (losing in Game 3 of the BCIHL championship series), we had a whole new level of commitment in the offseason from our leadership group. I think the chemistry has been there right from the get-go and our leaders have really set the bar as to what it takes to be excellent. This record is a by-product of all of that."

NOTABLE
• TWU has won the last four games against Selkirk College and finish the season with a 4-1 record against the Saints.
• After recording five assists in TWU's last outing, Deugau tallied another two helpers in Saturday's win. Deugau is now 10th in league scoring and leads all defencemen in points, with three goals and 20 assists.
• Last is third in the league for points, with 11 goals, and 18 assists.

NEXT UP
The Spartans are on the road next weekend Feb. 23 at UVIC and Feb 24 at VIU.

-TW-