After a 6–1 drubbing against Trinity Western on September 24, one could begin to wonder how the 2016–17 BC Intercollegiate Hockey League season would begin for the Clan. After all, the team was not eased into the new season, with a road trip to Eastern Washington and then Selkirk — the four-time defending champs — in the cards. However, SFU passed this early test with flying colours, defeating both teams to start the season 2–0.
“It was really good,” said head coach Mark Coletta on the start of the season. “Obviously two points is two points, [and] two points on Friday and two points on Saturday is good for us. When you go on the road and you can open up with two wins, it’s very important, and we did that.”
Against Eastern Washington, SFU was tied after two periods. However, goals from Division I transfer Scott Patterson and new captain Brandon Tidy in the third secured the two points.
“We just knew we just had to keep dictating the pace of play,” said Coletta on what changed in the third. “They were coming on strong, and our guys were relentless on the forecheck, and I think that is the makeup of our team this year. We got a fast, gritty bunch of guys that are going to push the pace.”
The second game up in Selkirk saw SFU come away with a 3–2 win. Mitch Crisanti, Adam Callegari, and Brendan Lamont scored the goals for the Clan. It was the team’s first win away at Selkirk since January of 2012, in regulation.
“Team speed” was the key to the win, according to Coletta. “It’s winning battles, winning loose pucks, winning races, making sure we’re on the offensive in there, not chasing the game, and I think we did a good job of not chasing them around. [. . .] Overall we played three solid periods up there.”
The powerplay was especially efficient on the road trip. SFU scored four powerplay goals on the road trip, two in each game.
Said Coletta on the early success, “We got a good mix of skill guys and guys who are big and grind the puck. You need a combination of guys who are good puck possession guys and guys that are willing to go to the dirty areas.”
Another early positive is also the play of SFU’s top line of Callegari, Patterson, and Lamont. With a combined three goals and eight assists in two games, it looks like they will be the main source of offence for this SFU team going forward.
“It’s one of those [lines] that’s instantly dynamic,” said Coletta on the play of the trio. “They do a lot of good things right off the bat. They’re fast [and] they’re crafty. Lamont has a little bit of grit and edge, Patterson has that big body, he’s got sense for the game, knows where to be, [and] Callegari is the playmaker. You got scoring, you got speed.”
However, the blueline is still battling some injuries. Forward and team captain Tidy played defence over the course of the two games, and will “continue to do that as we see fit,” according to Coletta.
SFU’s next game will be a rematch against Selkirk College. According to Coletta, the key for the rematch will be to stay focused and not get distracted from talk about their excellent start.
“We’re 2–0, we haven’t won anything yet, it’s only October,” he said. “As long as our guys stay level-headed and grounded and know that Selkirk is coming in and they’re going to be hungry and ready to play. We need to dictate the pace on our own ice.”