by Mark Janzen
January 2, 2014, NARVA, Estonia (ISN) – Playing in front of a sold out crowd of more than 2,500, the Trinity Western men’s hockey team earned a 3-1 victory over PSK Narva in the Spartans final game of their Baltic tour Thursday.
Read more about the Spartans trip through the team’s blog.
After winning their first two games in Lithuania and Latvia, the Spartans capped off the tour with an impressive win over Narva’s local professional club in front of a spirited crowd. It was not only the biggest crowd of the Spartans three-game tour, but it was also the largest home audience to ever witness a Narva game.
“It was a great atmosphere with people screaming and it was a good thing that we got out to a 2-0 lead in the first couple of minutes,” said Spartans coach Barret Kropf. “It was a really exciting game to be a part of and an experience I’m sure we’ll never forget.”
Mattias Schmitt (Surrey, B.C.) opened the scoring just a few minutes into the first period when he rushed up the left wing, dangled a pair of Narva defenders and roofed a quick shot in off the cross bar.
Just a minute later, TWU’s Jamie Russell (Surrey) doubled the Spartans lead when he took the puck to the net off a down-low cycle and popped a shot up top past the Narva keeper.
Despite the early goals, the crowd’s energy never waned. However, despite the excitable home crowd, the Spartans managed to open a 3-0 lead by the end of the opening frame. Late in the period Andrew Wheeler (Maple Ridge, B.C.) snapped found the back of the net on a shot from the slot after TWU completed a perfectly execute three-on-two rush.
In the second period, Narva responded with a short-handed tally, but that was as close as the home side would get. Spartans goalie Tim Zwiers (Williams Lake, B.C.), who was playing in his first game of the year after an extended period on the shelf with an injury, shut the door the rest of the way to earn the win.
Earlier in the trip, TWU beat HC Baltica (Elektrenai, Lithuania) 4-2 on Dec. 28 and knocked off HK Venta (Ventspils, Latvia) 6-3 on Dec. 30.
“Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the tour,” Kropf said. “We played well and now I’m excited to see how this experience will help us when we get back to league play in a couple of weeks.”
The Spartans resume their BCIHL schedule Jan. 16 when they host Simon Fraser at the Langley Events Centre.