Spartans drop wild one to visiting Wolfpack

trinity western_spartans1

November 16, 2013, LANGLEY, British Columbia (ISN) – The Thompson Rivers WolfPack scored three goals in just over six minutes in the first period and that set the tone for a goal-filled contest that saw the visiting WolfPack knock off the Trinity Western men’s hockey team 9-6 Friday at the Langley Events Centre.

In a penalty-filled contest, the teams combined for seven power play goals, but it was TRU (7-4) outshooting TWU (5-5) 54-31 and running away with the win down the stretch.

The WolfPack led 3-1 after the first period and 8-4 after the second, before TWU outscored TRU 2-1 in the final frame.

For TRU, 14 players picked up at least a point and six players had two-point nights. Josh MacDonald was the lone player with multiple goals as he tallied twice.

Leading the Spartans was JP Villeneuve (Georgetown, Ont.) and Andrew Wheeler (Maple Ridge, B.C.), who each had two goals and one assist.

In goal, Harry Fredeman (Ladner, B.C.) started the game but was pulled after allowing five goals on 20 shots. Silas Matthys (Wollerau, Swizterland) came in and made 30 saves on 34 shots.

WolfPack goalie Mark Menicucci made 25 saves on 31 shots.

This was the fifth game in a row the Spartans have spotted the opposition at least the first two goals.

“We didn’t bring our ‘A’ game again,” said Spartans coach Barret Kropf. “Like we have in the past, we gave them a few goals at the start and we were forced to play catch-up the rest of the way.”

While the Spartans fourth loss in a row had Kropf frustrated, it was more so the vast number of uncalled hits to the head he has seen this year and in Friday’s game that had him sour.

“What I’m finding really frustrating in this league right now is that I have four guys who are out with concussion-type injuries and I have a great problem with the amount of hitting to the head that this league has and the fact that the officials are not calling it. I’m not saying we’re innocent of it, but I’m saying, across the board, we need to be better as a league to clean this up.

“The officiating has to step up and us as a league needs to say that we’re not going to tolerate the head-hitting. We have student-athletes. We have to understand that these guys are in the classroom and when my guys can’t go to class because of a concussion, I have issues with that. We need to get our elbows down and sticks down and stop hitting after the whistle. Hits to the head have to stop. It’s something we can’t tolerate anymore.

“If we want to climb the ladder as a league and compete with the likes of the ACAC, that’s an area where we have to improve.”

As for Friday’s contest, the WolfPack got out to a 3-0 lead after Brodie Gibbon, Alex Martin and Tyler Berkholtz all scored in a span of 6:07 in the first period. The Spartans Wheeler tallied on the power play with 3:58 left in the period, but TWU still went into the dressing room down by two.

The second period was a goal bazaar as TRU’s Sean Maktaak and Tyler Jackson scored inside the first three minutes to give the WolfPack a 5-1 lead and spark an offensive barrage.

Shortly thereafter, Spartans Villeneuve and Wheeler scored two goals within 34 seconds of each other and before the period was four minutes old, it was 5-3.

However, TRU’s MacDonald tallied on a power play at 7:41 of the second and Duncan Schulz added another at 11:29 to restore the WolfPack’s four-goal margin.

In the final three minutes, TWU’s Jamey Kreller (Winfield, B.C.) scored with the man-advantage but only to see TRU’s Daniel Higgs find the back of the net with 1:32 left in the frame.

In the third period, with penalties mounting, TRU’s MacDonald scored his second goal of the night on a man-advantage to give the WolfPack its ninth goal of the evening.

Power play goals from TWU’s Villeneuve and Cody Stephenson (Aldergrove, B.C.) within 16 seconds of each with just over eight minutes to play rounded out the scoring.

All told, there were 20 penalties called, including two misconducts – a 10-minute one and a game – to TWU defenceman Brad Bakken (Langley).

The Spartans return to the ice Saturday at 2 p.m. when they will host Eastern Washington. Thompson Rivers is back at it next weekend, Nov. 22-23, when it will travel to play EWU.

Game Notes: The Spartans finished the game 4 for 6 on the power play while TRU was 3 for 5.