by Mark Janzen
February 19, 2014, LANGLEY, British Columbia (ISN) – The Trinity Western men’s hockey team will play its final home game of the regular season aiming to clinch a playoff spot when it hosts Thompson Rivers Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Langley Events Centre.
The game will be streamed live at http://bcihl.fasthockey.com/.
The Spartans (9-12) need a win or an Eastern Washington loss to clinch a playoff spot, but also have their eyes set on catching TRU (9-12-0-1) for third place in the BCIHL standings. With a win Thursday, TWU would move ahead of the WolfPack and would be a win or a TRU loss away from securing third place.
TRINITY WESTERN SPARTANS (9-12)
BCIHL Standings: 4th
Last weekend: Selkirk 4-1 L, Eastern Washington 4-2 L
Streak: 2 losses
PP%: 20.5 (5th)
PK%: 70.9 (6th)
GF: 56 (5th)
GA: 91 (4th)
CHANGING ON-ICE FORTUNES
The last two times the Spartans and WolfPack played, TRU won 9-6 and 9-5. However, because the WolfPack played two ineligible players in its 9-5 victory in mid-January, the Spartans were awarded a 1-0 win in the standings. On Thursday, the Spartans will be looking to prove themselves worthy of being in the playoff mix and earn an on-ice win over TRU.
After picking up three straight wins, the Spartans have lost three of their last four and come into the weekend on a two-game losing skid. While the Spartans played well for most of their road trip to Selkirk and Eastern Washington, they returned home with back-to-back losses, 4-1 and 4-2 respectively. The Spartans will be looking to generate some momentum this Thursday before again going on the road to play EWU and Selkirk to finish the season.
Since coming under the Spartans umbrella in 2010, TWU has only made the playoffs once and that was in 2010-11. Since then, the Spartans have missed the playoffs twice. With a win Thursday, TWU can assure themselves a spot back in the post-season. A victory will also match TWU’s combined win total from the last two years, with the Spartans having won just six games last year and four the year before.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
JP Villeneuve – The Spartans leading scorer was held out of the lineup for TWU’s last two games, as he was sick, and his absence was evident. Trinity Western scored just three goals over the weekend. With 17 goals and 12 assists in 19 games, his presence will make a huge difference.
Silas Matthys – The Swiss goalie made a combined 85 saves on the weekend, including a 60-save effort against Selkirk. He’s started TWU’s last three games, which includes a shootout win over Simon Fraser.
Jamey Kreller – After going five games without a point, Kreller had a goal and an assist in his last outing against EWU and will need to continue to contribute offensively if TWU is to get on a roll.
THOMPSON RIVERS (9-12-0-1)
BCIHL Standings: 3rd
Last weekend: Victoria 5-2 L, Selkirk 3-2 L (SO)
Streak: 8 losses
PP%: 21.6 (4th)
PK%: 73.6 (5th)
GF: 74 (3rd)
GA: 77 (3rd)
PROVING A POINT
The WolfPack gave up two wins due to playing two ineligible players and because of that, TRU finds itself just one point ahead of the Spartans for third place. Had TRU not been forced to forfeit those two wins, it would have already locked up third place by a comfortable margin. Instead, the WolfPack will have to go out and prove itself to be the third place team with a win.
PENALTIES KILLING WOLFPACK
Thompson River penalty kill has struggled all year as it’s killed off just 73.6 per cent of its penalties. The WolfPack has been in tough particularly on the road, currently killing off 69.7 per cent of its penalties. In last Friday’s loss to Victoria, TRU allowed four goals on six Vikes power plays.
With the forfeited games included, the WolfPack has lost eight contests in a row. TRU’s last win came Nov. 29 against Victoria when the WolfPack earned a 4-2 victory.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
- Duncan Schulz – TRU’s leading scorer has 12 goals and 20 assists in 19 games, but over his last five games, he has just one goal and one assist. In three games against TWU, he has three goals and three assists.
- Joshua MacDonald – He has 15 goals and 16 assists in 19 games, but last weekend was held off the score sheet in two games. However, like Schulz, he has had success against TWU, scoring four goals and earning two assists in three games.
- Travis Herlein – The WolfPack’s top scoring defenceman has three goals and 10 assists in 17 games. He is coming off a two-goal game against Selkirk.