VICTORIA – Trinity Western’s men’s hockey team moved within one win of its first ever BCIHL title after knocking off Victoria 5-0 in Game 1 of the best-of-three championship series Friday at the Ian Stewart Complex.
The victory sets up a Game 2 back in Langley, B.C. at the George Preston Recreation Centre in which TWU will have the chance to capture an historic league championship. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.
The Spartans had five different goal-scorers in Friday’s win, with Kaleb Denham (Innisfail, Alta.), Florian Niedermaier (Davos, Switzerland), Brett Wur (St. Andrew’s, Man.), Riley Schmidt (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) and Evan Last (Surrey, B.C.) all finding the back of the net.
TWU goalie Silas Matthys (Wollerau, Switzerland) made 21 saves for his first career playoff shutout. Matthys has a 0.67 goals against average and a .977 save percentage in this year’s postseason.
The win is the Spartans first ever victory in a championship series. In each of their two previous appearances, in 2014 and 2016, TWU was swept by Selkirk.
With the five-goal margin of victory, the Spartans have now outscored their opponents 15-2 in three playoff games. The Spartans scored more goals Friday night than they had scored in their previous four championship series games combined. Prior to Friday, TWU had been outscored 18-4 in its four championship games.
“It was nice to see Silas get his first playoff shutout because that is largely a result of a great team effort,” said Spartans coach Barret Kropf. “Once again we got a full 60 minutes from the whole group. The guys were really focused and it was obvious that every shift mattered. You could tell in the first five minutes, there was some nervous energy from both teams, but then we were able to get into a rhythm and we got all four lines rolling. By the end of the night, all four lines scored and that’s a testament to how hard each line worked. I’m really proud of how the guys have battled through injuries and have come together at this time in the year.
“Overall, it was a great hockey game from both sides and a disciplined game and it was a championship contest and we expect tomorrow night’s game will be much the same.
Denham opened the scoring in the first period at 17:07.
After a nearly scoreless second period, Niedermaier doubled the Spartans lead with just 40 seconds left in the middle frame.
Just over five minute into the third period, Wur sparked the Spartans late-game goal barrage, tallying the first of three goals in a 10-minute span. Schmidt and Last rounded out the scoring.
Both teams were unsuccessful on two power play opportunities.
Game Notes: TWU has now had 10 different players score in the postseason…Last has a team-high three goals…Dirk de Wall (Lethbridge, Alta.) leads TWU in playoff scoring with two goals and three assists.