by Mark Janzen
February 15, 2014, CHENEY, Washington (ISN) – Eastern Washington’s Jake Flynn scored with 2:55 left in the third period to break a 2-2 deadlock and the Eagles went on to earn a 4-2 win over Trinity Western’s men’s hockey team Saturday at the EWU Recreation Complex.
Despite TWU outshooting the Eagles 45-28, the Spartans were unable to hang onto 1-0 and 2-1 leads and EWU completed the comeback with the game-winner late in the third period.
Taking advantage of an untimely Spartans line change, Flynn got a breakaway and buried his chance past Matthys. An empty-netter put the game out of reach.
The win kept the Eagles (6-14) playoff hopes alive as they moved to within five points of the fourth place Spartans (9-12). However, with three games remaining for both EWU and TWU, the Spartans will clinch a playoff spot with a win or an Eagles loss. With a loss tonight, fifth place Victoria (5-13-0-4) was eliminated from playoff contention as the Vikes are four points back of TWU and Thompson Rivers with just two games left and both the Spartans and WolfPack would win the tiebreaker.
The Spartans Jamie Russell (Surrey, B.C.) in the first period and Jamey Kreller (Winfield, B.C.) in the second period both gave TWU one-goal leads, but goals from EWU’s JR Strait, in the second period, and Flynn and Brandon Butler in the third period, helped the Eagles earn the comeback win. Eastern Washington’s Alec Burks scored to even the score 1-1 midway through the first period.
The Spartans Silas Matthys (Wollerau, Switzerland) made 25 saves in the loss while EWU’s Jason Greenwell picked up the win with a 43-save effort.
“It was a good back and forth game,” said Spartans coach Barret Kropf. “It was just a couple of mistakes that led to us not getting any points out of a fairly solid weekend. Now, it’s going to be crunch time for us. It’s frustrating, but we’re going to keep at it and hopefully get some guys healthy and go from there.”
Russell opened the scoring at 10:28 of the first period, with assists going to Kreller and Joey Walter (Langley), but EWU’s Burks scored 29 seconds later to make it 1-1. Zach Klemmer picked up the helper on Burks’ goal.
With just under five minutes left in the second period, Kreller restored TWU’s lead but EWU’s Strait scored less than two minutes later and, while TWU had a 33-17 edge in shots, the game was tied after 40 minutes.
Ultimately, that set up the chance for Flynn to play hero with the winning goal late in the third period.
The Spartans return to the Langley Events Centre Feb. 20 when they will play their final home game of the regular season at 7 p.m. Eastern Washington will host Simon Fraser Thursday and Selkirk Sunday.
Game Notes: TWU was 0 for 3 on the power play while EWU was 0 for 1…for the second game in a row, TWU was playing with leading scorer JP Villeneuve (Georgetown, Ont.) as well as Chris Hirano (San Jose, Calif.) and Andrew Wheeler (Maple Ridge, B.C.) as all three are out with injuries.