By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications
(ISN) – VICTORIA, B.C. – The University of Victoria Vikes men’s field hockey team fell 4-2 to the visiting West Vancouver Millionaires on Feb. 28 in their final regular season game of the Vancouver men’s premier field hockey league. The Vikes men finish 1-10-1 in their 2014-15 season, while West Vancouver avoid relegation with today’s win, closing out with a 2-6-4 record.
The Vikes had a strong performance from second-year keeper Toby Owen who faced seven penalty corners and was key near the end of the game with quality saves on numerous point-blank attempts. Fifth year Derek Wiggins and fourth year Tyler Klenk anchored the Victoria midfield line and were the Vikes’ lone goal scorers. Second year Aidan Pye provided the majority of the offence for the young Vikes.
West Vancouver’s travelling roster included the second-highest internationally capped player in Field Hockey Canada history in Rob Short. Short, a two-time Olympian with 346 matches played for Canada, notched three goals for West Vancouver, while former Vike Graham Wiggins also got on the board. In addition to Short, 2000 Olympian Paul Wettlaufer provided a pivotal amount of experience in the midfield line. Wettlaufer is the sixth-highest capped player for Canada with 237 appearances.
Both teams were without key players as the men’s national team are currently in Chula Vista, Calif. for participation in the World League, a pathway to Rio 2016 qualification. For the Vikes this meant the absence of fourth-year midfielder Brenden Bissett, while West Vancouver were without goalkeeper Antoni Kindler.
West Vancouver got on the board early after defender Ethan Kozniuk drew the game’s first penalty corner in the sixth minute of play. Short took a straight strike from the top of the battery to get the Millionaires up 1-0 early on.
The Vikes had their first penalty corner attempt at the 16th-minute mark but a mistrap at the top of the circle denied any scoring chance. Second-year Vike Prabh Sahota sparked the Vikes’ first quality chance after picking off a West Van aerial attempt. Sahota fed the ball to Connor Martin who laid it off to Pye for a seemingly open chance. Youngster Joshua White, in goal for the visitors, stacked the pads for a great save to keep the Vikes off the board.
In the 20th minute Derek Wiggins got the game level after beating White along the baseline. The play was sparked by a speedy run down the right side from Pye.
Despite three-straight penalty corner chances in the 28th minute the Vikes were unable to grab the go-ahead goal. Minutes later Klenk was sent off with a five-minute suspension and West Vancouver capitalized with Graham Wiggins’ back-handed shot from close range that beat Owen to send the Vikes down 2-1 entering half.
In the second half possession favoured West Vancouver, while some potentially lethal fast-break attempts for Victoria were squandered away by unforced errors.
Short got the visitors up by two in the 47th minute after blasting a short-range shot top shelf after a scramble in the circle. West Vancouver went up 3-1 but the Vikes were able to find an answer. Klenk tipped in a Martin low drag flick on a penalty corner in the 50th minute to cut West Vancouver’s lead to 3-2.
The Vikes had a promising chance to tie the game up on two near break-away attempts for Sahota but the second-year tried to muscle his way past too many defenders and was unable to break through.
In the 67th minute Owen stood on his head in goal for the Vikes, making two back-to-back saves on close-range blasts. Moments later Short showed his composure at the top of the circle on a penalty corner to draw around the first defender running out and blast the ball into the net to give West Vancouver the 4-2 final edge.
The Vikes wrap up their regular season with a 1-10-1 record but will still have two more games as part of the second tier post season. The Vikes will travel to Surrey to play India Club on Mar. 8 at 12 p.m. and will then play Burnaby in Vancouver on Mar. 14 at 1:30 p.m.
UVIC: 1-1 : 2
WVAN: 2-2 : 4
UVIC: Derek Wiggins (20′), Tyler Klenk (50th)
WVAN: Rob Short (6′, 47′, 70′), Graham Wiggins (35′)