Spartans Earn Critical Win Over Vikes

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February 2, 2013, Langley, BC (ISN) – The Trinity Western men’s hockey team kept its BCIHL playoff hopes very much alive with a 4-2 win over Victoria Friday at the Langley Events Centre.

Entering the contest six points behind the Vikes for the fourth and final playoff position, the Spartans were in near must-win territory and they did exactly what they needed to do in earning the two-goal victory.

The Spartans are now 4-12-0-1 on the season and just four points behind Victoria, who sit at 6-10-0-1, in the BCIHL standings.

After Jamey Kreller (Winfield, B.C.) scored to give TWU a 3-0 lead midway through the third, the Spartans held off a late Vikes push – one that saw the visitors capitalize twice on a five-minute power play – to pick up a critical two points.

Also scoring for TWU was Jordan Magnuson (Williams Lake, B.C.), Blair Murphy (Surrey, B.C.) and Mattias Schmitt (Surrey, B.C.).

The Vikes responded with goals from Luciano Somerville (Port Alberni, B.C.) and Eli Wiebe (Tsawwassen, B.C.).

Trinity Western goalie Harry Fredeman (Ladner, B.C.) stopped 31 of the 33 shots fired his way while Victoria’s Sunny Gill (Medicine Hat, Alta.) made 24 saves in a losing effort.

“It’s all about the middle of the ice,” said Spartans coach Dwayne Lowdermilk. “We took it away and we pushed them to the outside. In the first period and a little bit at the end, we gave up a little more in the slot than we wanted but overall it was a job well done by the boys.

“After they scored two quick goals, we called a timeout and just said that this is where character is built. We believe right now we’re building the walls back up and we’ve got until March 2nd to get it done. Tonight was one more step towards that.”

It was Victoria with the edge in play in the first period as the Vikes outshot TWU 14-9 through 20 minutes. But with both goalies perfect, the game remained scoreless heading into the first intermission.

The Spartans opened the scoring 1:09 into the second period when Murphy took a pass from Brodie Hemrich (Surrey, B.C.) and put a shot on net that caromed off a defenders skate and found its way through the legs of Gill and into the back of the net.

With 5:38 left in the period, TWU doubled its lead when Schmitt scored shorthanded, nabbing the puck off a blocked shot and, from the right circle, rifling a shot to the far side, past the blocker of Gill. Despite being outshot 24-19 through the first two periods, the Spartans led 2-0.

After a push from Victoria early in the third period, the Spartans got what would turn out to be the game-winner when Kreller, coming in on a three-on-two, converted a perfectly-timed tape-to-tape cross-ice pass from Matt Ius (Pitt Meadows, B.C.) that gave TWU a 3-0 lead at 9:26 of the final frame.

However, not long after the Spartans went up by three, the game took a turn the Vikes way when TWU’s Schmitt was assessed a five-minute major for checking from behind.

With 7:09 left in the third, Victoria’s Somerville found a loose puck in the left circle and, with the Spartans scrambling and Fredeman screened, the Vikes forward whipped a quick wrister to the top right corner.

Just 43 seconds later, the Vikes, still on the power play, scored again when Wiebe’s soft point shot found its way through the equipment of Fredeman and to the back of the net.

But that was as close at Victoria would get.

With TWU on the power play Magnuson scored on a wrist shot from the slot that beat Gill to the top left corner. The goal snuffed out the Vikes comeback and sealed the win.

Three Stars

1. Jordan Magnuson – TWU

2. Blair Murphy – TWU

3. Eli Wiebe – Victoria

The two teams will meet in a rematch Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Langley Events Centre.