LANGLEY, British Columbia – The Spartans men’s hockey team scored three first period to take a convincing early lead before cruising to a 4-1 win over Victoria Friday at the Langley Events Centre.
Evan Last (Surrey, B.C.) opened the scoring 30 seconds into the game, which sparked an offensive barrage, which saw both Cody Stephenson (Aldergrove, B.C.) and Aaron Gruenhage (Abbotsford, B.C.) tally first period goals.
Kaleb Denham (Innisfail, Alta.) also scored for TWU (4-1-0-0) while Shawn Mueller tallied for the Vikes (3-3-0-1).
Despite the Vikes outshooting TWU 39-31, TWU goalie Silas Matthys (Wollerau, Switzerland) held Victoria at bay, making 38 save to earn his fourth win of the season and 28th career victory in the BCIHL. The Spartans goalie is now just one win shy of tying the BCIHL’s career record for wins.
The victory pushes TWU into a tie with Selkirk for top spot in the BCIHL.
The Spartans have only allowed two goals in their last three games and just four goals over their four-game winning streak.
“It was good to get that jump start,” said Spartans coach Barret Kropf. “I think Victoria came out a little flat and we were able to capitalize and get those three quick ones. But I think overall, it’s one of those team wins. I don’t think anyone was head and shoulders above anyone tonight. It was just another 60 minutes of 20 guys working hard. We were also a lot more disciplined tonight, which was good. We keep getting these team wins, which builds confidence and momentum.”
Last opened the scoring early on, converting a rebound from on top of the crease.
Stephenson doubled TWU’s lead at 10:30 of the opening frame, when he finished off a two-on-one, whipping a quick shot under Vikes goalie Scott Legault, who had four saves on the night.
Only 47 seconds later, the Spartans took advantage of a Victoria miscue with Gruenhage banging a loose puck into an empty net. After a Spartans dump-in, Legault went behind his net to play the puck and was inadvertently run over by a teammate. With Legault down on the ice, the Spartans Riley Schmidt (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) sent the puck to Gruenhage, who had a tap-in for his first of the year.
Legault was left the game with an injury after play and was replaced by Zach Wear, who finished with 23 saves.
The Vikes outshot TWU 14-6 in the second period, but still trailed by three through 40 minutes, as the teams traded goals in the middle frame.
Mueller scored on the power play at 8:21, before Denham responded with a man-advantage marker of his own on a point shot that saw its way to the back of the net.
The Spartans return to the ice Nov. 4-5 when they travel to play Selkirk. The Vikes are back at it Saturday when they play Simon Fraser at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre in Burnaby, B.C.
Game Notes: TWU is now 15-16-1 all-time against the Vikes…TWU is 2-1 against Victoria this season…the next time these two teams play is Nov. 12 at the LEC.