Spartans win second straight in Baltics

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by Mark Janzen

December 30, 2013, VENTSPILS, Latvia (ISN) – The Trinity Western men’s hockey team improved to 2-0 on its tour to the Baltics thanks to a 6-3 win over HK Venta Monday.

Playing against a collaborative team made up largely of local professional players, the Spartans scored the first two goals of the night and never trailed the rest of the way as they built as much a 5-1 lead early in the third period and then cruised to a three-goal win.

Coming off a penalty-filled contest against HC Baltica in which TWU won 4-2, the Spartans took advantage of a much more free-flowing game Monday as they put on an impressive offensive display in front of a crowd of nearly 1,200.

With two goals, TWU’s JP Villeneuve (Georgetown, Ont.) was named the player of the game while Spartans goalie Harry Fredeman (Ladner, B.C.) earned the win in his first game of the tour.

The Spartans also got goals from Brody Hemrich (Surrey, B.C.), Jamie Russell (Surrey), Cody Stephenson (Aldergrove, B.C.) and Chris Hirano (San Jose, Calif.).

“The guys had a good effort tonight,” said Spartans coach Barret Kropf. “There were a few lulls throughout the game but overall we were pretty solid. Their crowd was really into it, which made for a fun environment. There were also fewer penalties in this one, which gave us more of a chance to find our legs and get into a bit of a run and gun style.”

Hemrich opened the scoring in the first period when his pass from the corner deflected off a skate and bounced past the Venta goalie. Not long after, Russell doubled TWU’s lead as he took a pass from Mattias Schmitt (Surrey) and tapped it in from in tight to give the Spartans a 2-0 lead at the first intermission.

Early in the second, the Spartans continued to press and, with a power play marker from Stephenson, went up 3-0.

Midway through the second, the home side got on the board, converting a rebound opportunity.

However, that was as close as Venta would get. Early in the third period, Villeneuve scored a pair of goals, both assisted by Hirano, to give TWU a 5-1 lead and more than enough offence to earn the win.

After Venta made it 5-2, Hirano scored to round out the TWU offence.

A late goal from Venta made it a 6-3 final.

Trinity Western will now travel to Narva, Estonia where it will wrap up its three-game tour Jan. 2 against PSK Narva.

Off the ice, the Spartans have had the chance to meet with a few local church youth groups as well as run some hockey clinics for young players.

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