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MEN’S HOCKEY (BCIHL PLAYOFFS)
FRIDAY, MARCH 25, 2011
VICTORIA (3) TRINITY WESTERN (2) (OT)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SPARTANS SEASON ENDS WITH OVERTIME LOSS
BURNABY, British Columbia – The Trinity Western men’s hockey team saw its BCIHL playoff run come to an end Friday night as they lost to Victoria 3-2 in overtime at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre.
But it surely wasn’t for a lack of effort.
The Spartans, playing a distinctly physical brand, put it all on the line and despite being outshot 37-20 over the course of the game, skated with the Vikes right up until Victoria’s Adam Courtnall, Geoff Courtnall’s son, scored the winning goal 1:41 into the extra session.
“We took it right to the wire and again the guys showed a lot of heart,” said TWU coach Dwayne Lowdermilk, whose team lost to Victoria 9-3 in the first game of the playoffs just two days prior. “As I just said in the dressing room, now we look forward to next year. We had such a heart to battle back and that was huge tonight. Each time we got down, we kept coming back and refocused. We wanted to send Victoria home on the first ferry tonight.
“Victoria plays a good solid strong game and we felt if we played a more physical game, we’d have a better opportunity to win.”
Victoria came out the stronger of the two teams in both the first and second periods, and took a 1-0 lead early in the first and a 2-1 lead early in the second, but a resilient TWU squad kept banging and crashing their way back, evening the score 1-1 before the first was up and 2-2 going into the second intermission.
But like the first two periods, in overtime, the Vikes scored the first goal and that was all that mattered.
The Spartans got goals from Brendan Elenko and Brandon Long while Victoria’s regulation time goals came from Matthew Bell and Brent Sutherland.
For the fifth straight year the Spartans will finish fourth in the BCIHL playoffs and for the second straight year their final game was lost beyond 60 minutes as last year they fell to Okanagan in a shootout.
The Vikes had the jump in the opening 10 minutes of the game as they put the Spartans under a ton of early pressure. And, deservedly so, Victoria, on the power play, potted the first goal of the game 5:47 in, when a Vikes point shot pinballed around before Bell’s deflection beat TWU goalie Tim Zwiers up top over his glove.
The Vikes continued to maintain possession in the Spartans zone, time and again stymieing TWU’s breakout attempts, but fortunately for the Spartans, the Zwiers of Thursday afternoon, when he stopped 37 of 40 Okanagan shots in a 4-3 win, also showed up to play Friday, stopping 13 of 14 shots by the end of the period.
But despite being outshot 14-6 in the opening frame, the Spartans managed to even things up with 4:32 left in the period. With a Vikes players just coming out of the box to make it 4-on-4 action, but with TWU already well-established in Victoria’s zone from the previous power play, Brendan Elenko ripped a howitzer of a point shot that rocketed to the top corner to knot the game 1-1 and send the teams into the intermission on even terms.
In the second period the Spartans noticeably picked up their game as they had a number of quality chances early, but ultimately couldn’t convert.
Instead it was Victoria notching the game’s third goal, when Sutherland took a drop pass from Dennis Pavlina off the rush, was alone in the slot and rifled a wrister past Zwiers on the short blocker side. Bell had the other assist for the Vikes.
But TWU kept coming. Utilizing a few power play opportunities the Spartans seized momentum and were rewarded for their efforts.
After a couple of brilliant shorthanded opportunities for Trinity Western – Trevor Edwards was rebound attempt was foiled by a diving stick save from Victoria goalie Tim Manuel after a two-on-one and Robert Vos was unable to capitalize on a partial breakaway – the Spartans evened things up.
With 3:43 to go in the frame, after the Vikes goalie misplayed a dump-in puck behind his net, a speedy Sam Gemmell got to the puck first, fired it onto the stick of Brandon Long in the slot, who one-timed a shot low to the short side.
That sent the game to the final 20 minutes knotted 2-2.
And in the third, Victoria kept pouring on the shots but TWU did a good job of keeping the Vikes to the outside and limited their quality chances.
The closest call for the Spartans was a Benton Nickel slapper 35 seconds into the period from the blueline that hit the base of the left post.
But with no goals in the third period, the game was destined for overtime.
The best chance for TWU came off the stick of Vos whose slapshot from the top of the right circle was stopped by the shaft of the stick of Manuel.
But shortly thereafter, Courtnall pounced on a loose puck in front of the net, out waited Zwiers and whipped it up top over the Spartans goalies’ glove.
1st – Adam Courtnall – Victoria
2nd – Tim Zwiers – Trinity Western
3rd – Brent Sutherland – Victoria
Game Notes: The Spartans were 0 for 6 on the power play while Victoria was 1 for 7…TWU had 14 penalty minutes compared to Victoria’s 12.
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