SPARTANS HOCKEY STARTS PLAYOFFS WEDNESDAY

MEN’S HOCKEY (BCIHL)
TUESDAY, MARCH 22, 2011
PLAYOFF PREVIEW

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SPARTANS START PLAYOFFS WEDNESDAY

LANGLEY, British Columbia –
For the second year in a row, Trinity Western will head into the BCIHL playoffs both in fifth place and with an identical 10-12-2 regular season record.

But after four straight years of fourth place finishes in the playoffs, and with a record of 1-11 over that span, the Spartans are looking for a much better result beyond the regular season this year and, to a man, believe they can play with anyone in the BCIHL.

The Spartans open the double-knockout BCIHL playoffs against Victoria Wednesday, Mar. 23, at 4:30 p.m. at Burnaby Winter Club.

Click on BCIHL Playoff Bracket above to expand.

Click here for complete schedule

Season Record: (10-12-2)
BCIHL Standing: 5th
Last Game: Selkirk 2-2
Streak: 1 Tie
2009-10 BCIHL record (as Titans): 10-12-2 (5th)
2009-10 BCIHL playoffs (as Titans): 1-2 (4th)
Last BCIHL title: N/A

Although Trinity Western finished the season winless in its last three games, a lull that included a 10-5 road loss to Victoria on Feb. 19, the Spartans were playing those games with a substantially depleted lineup and statistically nothing to play for.

Prior to those final three games, things were vastly different. The Spartans had won three games in a row and had done so against three of the top four teams in the league. On Feb. 11, Trinity Western beat Simon Fraser 3-0, which was the first time in more than four years the Clan has been shutout. Then the following afternoon, on Feb. 12, the Spartans Trevor Beaupre scored with 26 seconds left in the game to give TWU a 4-3 win over Okanagan. And finally, the night before the 10-5 debacle in Victoria, the Spartans beat that same Victoria team 4-2.

Combine those three wins with a 2-1 victory over Thompson Rivers Jan. 7 and the Spartans have produced at least one win this year over each of the four teams they’ll be looking to beat this weekend  and thus have earned their confidence and believe this year’s playoffs could be different.

But for TWU, winning the whole thing will be quite the adventure.

If the Spartans manage to make it to the championship game on Sunday, Mar. 27, at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre in Burnaby they will end up playing four or even five games in five days and every team they will play finished above them in the regular season standings.

So it will certainly be a challenge for the Spartans and especially so considering they’ll need to turn up nearly every statistical facet of their regular season game.

Amongst the five playoff teams, TWU scored the fewest goals this year, averaging 2.90 goals per game, and allowed the most, averaging 3.50 goals against per game. They have the worst power play, averaging 14.0 per cent during the regular season but did have the second best penalty kill, with an average success rate of 87.5 per cent.

The Spartans were led offensively this year by Fraser Valley transfer Robert Vos as he finished with 12 goals and 11 assists in 23 games. He is peaking at the right time though. After picking up 12 points in his first nine games, Vos went pointless in eight straight games. But since then, he’s responded with 11 points in his final six games and will need to continue at that pace if TWU hopes to make some noise in the playoffs.

After Vos, Brandon Long had 19 points, including 16 assists, while Trevor Edwards and Josh Stephenson each had 11 points on the year.

Defenceman Brendan Stephen led the blueline with 10 points in 22 games but it’s largely captain Benton Nickel, who plays a defensive game from the back end, who leads the defensive core.

In the crease, the Spartans have had three goalies – John-Paul Chapman, Sean Langrieger and Tim Zwiers – share the load this year but it’ll be Chapman leading the way in the playoffs.

Chapman played in 18 games this year and had the best numbers of the three goalies, with a 3.11 goals against average and a .905 save percentage, and has been the Spartans go-to guy all year in big games.

Wednesday’s game against Victoria is a big one and he’ll need to be at his best.

-TW-

Last Updated: 2011-03-22
Author: Mark Janzen