Spartans host Eastern Washington in home-opening weekend

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October 16, 2013, LANGLEY, British Columbia (ISN) – The Trinity Western men’s hockey team will open its home schedule this weekend with games Friday night and Saturday afternoon against Eastern Washington at the Langley Events Centre.

Puck drop is at 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday.

Coming off a 4-3 win over Thompson Rivers to start the 2013-14 season, TWU is looking to get off to a 2-0 start for the first time since the men’s hockey team came under the Spartans umbrella in 2010.

Last year, the Spartans went 1-3 against EWU. All-time, in regular season action, TWU is 1-5-2 against the Eagles.


BCIHL Standings: 3rd (tied)

Last weekend: Did not play

Streak: 1 win

2012-2013 BCIHL Record: 6-16-0-2, 6th

2012-2013 BCIHL Playoffs: N/A

Last BCIHL title: N/A

The Spartans got off to exactly the start they wanted under new head coach Barret Kropf as they earned a 4-3 road win over Thompson Rivers in their season-opener.

Thanks in large part to the play of BCIHL Player of the Week JP Villeneuve (Georgetown, Ont.) and Chris Hirano (San Jose, Cali.), the Spartans earned a season-opening win for the first time since 2010.

Villeneuve scored with just 1:29 left in the third period to lift TWU to the win while also adding an assist on the tying goal earlier in the third period. Hirano meanwhile had two goals, including the first of the game just 11 seconds into the contest and the equalizer in the final frame, and an assist.

So, with that, the Spartans open their home schedule hoping to build off their early season momentum. With nine of TWU’s 12 home games this year coming in the fall semester, the Spartans have no time to waste. Early season wins on home ice are paramount.

With the addition of Villeneuve this season, the Spartans have a bona fide scorer who will be counted on to lead TWU offensively. However, beyond Villeneuve, the Spartans will rely on a variety of players to contribute in the offensive zone. Players like Jamie Russell (Surrey, B.C.), Cody Stephenson (Aldergrove, B.C.), and last year’s team point-leader Jamey Kreller (Winfield, B.C.) will all need to put up points if the Spartans are to make a return to the post-season.

The defence will once again be led by Brad Bakken (Langley), although the Spartans captain will miss Friday’s contest as he serves the second game of a two-game suspension he received following a fight in last year’s season finale. Along with Bakken, look for the likes of Jake Harcoff (Surrey) and Blair Murphy (Surrey), who had 12 and 13 points respectively last year, and first-year Daniel Stollery (Camrose, Alta.) to round out the top four on the blue line.

Between the pipes, it’ll be Harry Fredeman (Ladner, B.C.) and Silas Matthys (Wollerau, Switzerland) competing for starting minutes. Fredeman got the win in the season-opener and made 31 saves on 34 shots.


BCIHL Standings: 3rd (tied)

Last weekend: Victoria W, 3-0

2012-2013 BCIHL

Streak: 1 win

2012-2013 Record: 9-14-0-1, 5th

2012-2013 BCIHL Playoffs: N/A

Last BCIHL title: N/A

The Eagles are in a situation similar to the Spartans in that a return to the post-season is no doubt the team’s first and foremost goal.

After making the playoffs in their first season in the BCIHL, in 2011-12, the Eagles were unable to duplicate the feat last year, falling two points shy of the fourth and final post-season berth.

Early on this year, EWU has a 3-0 win over Victoria but also a 7-2 loss to Selkirk.

The Eagles opened the season on the road in Castlegar and, after a close first period, were buried over the final 40 minutes. The difference was the Saints power play. Selkirk did outshoot EWU 47-27 overall, but the Eagles also gave up five power play markers on seven chances.

Trailing 3-2 after 20 minutes while collecting two power play goals themselves, the Eagles gave up four straight power play goals over the final two periods as Selkirk cruised to a five-goal win.

The following weekend, EWU hosted Victoria and, while still going down a man seven times, this time the Eagles were perfect on the penalty kill. The Eagles outshot Victoria 46-15 and scored one goal in each period en route to a 3-0 win.

Paxton Bell leads the team in scoring with two goals and one assist while Uriah Machuga and Zach Maxwell have two assists each. Matt Hanson and Tanner Hawes have the other two Eagles goals this year.

Goalie Jason Greenwell has played in both games this year and is 1-1 with one shutout, a 3.50 goals against average and an .887 save percentage.

The Eagles are fifth in the BCIHL in power play efficiency, working at 15.4 per cent and sixth in the league while shorthanded, killing off just 54.6 per cent of the opposition’s power play opportunities.