January 31, 2013, Langley, BC (ISN) – The Trinity Western men’s hockey team (3-12-0-1) will look to take major strides towards a playoff spot this weekend as it hosts fourth-place Victoria (6-9-0-1) Friday and Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.
Both games are at 7 p.m. and will be streamed live at www.fasthockey.com.
With Victoria sitting in the fourth and final playoff position, the Vikes are one of the teams the Spartans need to catch. With four games remaining against Victoria, a playoff spot is still well within TWU’s grasp. The results of this weekend could get the Spartans right back in the hunt.
The last time Victoria and TWU played, the Vikes won 6-4 on home ice.
TRINITY WESTERN SPARTANS (3-12-0-1)
BCIHL position: 6th
Last weekend: Simon Fraser 5-2
Streak: 2 losses
2011-2012 BCIHL Record: 4-15-5, 6th
2011-2012 BCIHL Playoffs: N/A
Last BCIHL title: N/A
After a promising stretch for the Trinity Western men’s hockey team in which it won three of four, including a 2-1 road victory over league-leading Selkirk, the Spartans are again looking to get out of a funk, as they have lost their last two games by four and three goals respectively.
Going into this weekend, the Spartans are six points behind Victoria, a team currently tied with Eastern Washington for the fourth and final BCIHL playoff position. If the Spartans can earn a sweep and collect all four available points this weekend, they’ll find themselves right in the thick of the playoff race. Any other result and they’ll have put themselves in an awfully precarious position.
After scoring 18 goals in that three wins in four games span, over the last two games, the Spartans have once again struggled to find the back of the net, scoring just four goals combined. Defensively, the Spartans have also as they allowed five goals in their last game against Simon Fraser and six in the game prior against Eastern Washington.
If they Spartans are to earn a pair of wins over the Vikes this weekend, an improvement in their power play and penalty kill fortunes is paramount. Through 16 games, TWU has 14 power play goals on 95 opportunities, which has them scoring at a rate of just 14.7 per cent (5th in the BCIHL). Similarly in fifth place in the BCIHL is their penalty kill which is operating at 77.3 per cent, having killed off 75 of the 97 chances the Spartans have afforded the opposition.
As has been the case all season, TWU has been led offensively by the trio of Jamey Kreller (Winfield, B.C.), who had eight goals and six assists, Jamie Russell (Surrey, B.C.), who has four goals and eight assists, and Josh Stephenson (Aldergrove, B.C.), who has three goals and seven assists. Newcomer Matt Ius (Pitt Meadows, B.C.) has been a spark in all five games he’s played, earning two goals and five assists.
Goalies Harry Fredeman (Ladner, B.C.) and Tim Zwiers (Williams Lake, B.C.) have shared the load this season in net with Zwiers getting the call of late due to Fredeman being shelved with an injury.
VICTORIA VIKES (6-9-0-1)
BCIHL position: 4th (tied)
Last weekend: TRU 8-2 L, SFU 11-2 L
Streak: 2 losses
2011-2012 BCIHL Record: 10-11-3, 4th
2011-2012 BCIHL Playoffs: 4-0, 1st
Last BCIHL title: 2012
The Vikes no doubt will be eagerly awaiting this weekend’s series with Trinity Western. While the Vikes have lost four of their last five contests, the lone win over the past two months was a 6-4 home ice victory over TWU. So, coming to Langley certainly brings optimism for a Vikes side just trying to stay afloat.
In Victoria’s four losses Nov. 30, the Vikes have been outscored 36-9, which includes a 6-1 to Selkirk, 11-4 and 11-2 setback against Simon Fraser and 8-2 drubbing at the hands of Thompson Rivers.
With a second place finish all but out of the question – Simon Fraser is currently 12 points clear of Victoria – the Vikes, instead, have their sights set on, most importantly, making the playoffs, but also on catching third place TRU. Currently Tied with Eastern Washington for fourth place but with one game in hand, and two points back of TRU, for Victoria, each and every contest will prove pivotal down the stretch.
This year, the Vikes have been led offensively by Shawn Mueller, who has 10 goals and 11 assists in 16 games, which has him ninth in the BCIHL in scoring. Not far behind is Adam Klein, who has three goals and 15 assists, which has him 17th in league scoring. It was Klein who did the most damage against TWU last time the teams played as he registered two goals, including the game-winner, and one assist. Mueller and Matthew Bell, the latter of whom is fourth in team scoring with four goals and eight helpers, each added two assists in the win.
In net, Nick Babich and Sunny Gill have largely split duties this year with Robert Simmons earning the occasional start. The last time Victoria played TWU, it was Gill earning the win, stopping 36 of the 40 shots he faced. Babich has been the busiest of the three, seeing action in 11 games and posting a 5.24 goals against average and an .866 save percentage.
The Vikes special teams have been very much middle of the road this year as the power play is currently fourth in the BCIHL at 18.8 per cent, while the penalty kill is third at 81.7 per cent. On the road, Victoria’s power play is at 16.7 per cent (3rd in the BCIHL) while its penalty kill is 76.9 per cent (5th).