LANGLEY, British Columbia – The Trinity Western University Spartans men’s hockey team had one of their slowest starts to a game this season, but they were able to recover and defeat the visiting University of Victoria Vikes 6-5 Saturday afternoon at the Langley Events Centre in Langley, B.C.
“We did not start well and the way the first period was going it took us awhile to start playing better hockey. But we played well for stretches in the first two periods and were able to grind out the third,” commented TWU head coach Barret Kropf. “We are getting lots of points as a team and individuals, but we can’t just expect to just play and we will get points.”
“We were sitting with the same record at this point last year. And we had some struggles after that. We are probably going to have one of our toughest weeks of practice to help us remain focused.”
TWU’s Silas Matthys, who replaced starter Nic Clark to start the third period, made 12 saves to earn the win, while Victoria’s Nick Babich made 35 saves in the loss. TWU’s Clark played the first 40 minutes and made 26 saves on the 31 shots he faced.
“Nic made some good saves at the end of the second period to keep us tied, but we decided to change things up in the third with Silas and see how the guys would respond,” commented Kropf on his goalie change.
The Vikes opened the game with a flurry as they scored two goals in the first two minutes of the game. Victoria’s Adam Klein opened the scoring with a power play goal at 18:25, followed by a goal from Evan Warner 13 seconds later to give the Vikes the quick 2-0 lead.
The Spartans looked sluggish and were not playing well to start, but the game changed when rookie Dawson Sawatzky made an open ice hit that brought the players on the bench to their feet.”Sawatsky’s hit really got our energy up and helped us play better,” commented Kropf.
TWU responded with three goals to end the period with a 3-2 lead. The Spartans got on the board when Andrew Wheeler got one past Victoria’s Clark at 7:10 of the period, before junior forward Mattias Schmitt scored two goals in 55 seconds, 3:08, 2:13, to give the Spartans a jump heading into the second period.
The second period had a near identical start as the first with the Vikes opening the scoring at 18:16. Luciano Somerville, with an assist from Evan Warner, tied the game at 3-3.
The Spartans regained the lead, and a two goal advantage, after two goals that were the direct result of excellent puck control and passing. TWU’s James Russell, with assists to Jamey Kreller and Josiah Cockrill, got the Spartans back in the lead at 13:50. Then at 10:22 JP Buys cleanly found the open net after taking a pass that was set up by Josiah Cockrill and Cody Fidgett to give TWU a 5-3 lead.
The lead did not last through the end of the period as the Vikes dominated the final 10 minutes of play. Dylan Hykawy scored on a power play goal at 8:39 followed by a goal from Cody Mueller at 1:44 to tie the game at 5-5. And if not for two point blank saves from TWU’s Nic Clark the Spartans would have found themselves trailing heading into the final 20 minutes of play.
The final period had only one penalty called and one power play, for Victoria, and had a considerably different flow of play then the first two periods. TWU’s Cody Fidgett got the game winner for the Spartans with just over six minutes remaining, 6:11, in the game.
The Vikes pulled goalie Nick Babich over the final 1:20, but were unable to find the equalizer as the Spartans prevailed for the one goal win.
Next week the Spartans will host the Vikes again on Friday, October 31. Puck drop at the Langley Events Centre is scheduled for 7 p.m. PST.
Game Notes: there were eight penalties called in the first period, three in the second period and one in the third period…both teams finished 2-5 on the power play…