LANGLEY, B.C. – The BCIHL-leading Trinity Western Spartans scored a pair of goals late in the third period, but their comeback bid came up just short, as TWU opened the spring semester with a 5-4 loss to visiting Simon Fraser, falling to the Clan for the first time this year, Thursday at the Langley Events Centre.
Playing SFU for the fourth time in 2018-19, the Clan finally bettered the defending-champion Spartans, holding on for the win after TWU tallied twice in the final five minutes of the third period.
With the win, SFU improved to 7-5-0-0 on the season, while the Spartans fell to 10-2-0-1.
After the Clan extended their lead to 5-2 midway through the third period, TWU's Dustin Deugau (Calgary) and Jarrett Fontaine (Humboldt, Sask.) scored at 16:15 and 17:32 of the final frame, but it wasn't quite enough.
Eric Callegari, Nicholas Holowko, Graham Smerek, Kyle Bergh and Jakob Kranabetter scored for SFU, while Elijah Vilio (Aldergrove, B.C.) got in on the scoring alongside Fontaine, who had two on the night, and Deugau, who also had two assists, for the Spartans.
SFU goalie Michael Lenko stopped 28 shots to earn his fourth win of the year. Spartans goalie Lucas Mills (Burnaby, B.C.), who has a BCIHL-best nine wins on the year, made 23 saves in his first regulation time loss of the year.
The Clan capitalized on two of its seven power play opportunities while TWU, who had just two power play chances all game, scored on both of them.
The setback is the Spartans first regulation time loss on home ice this year. TWU is now 5-1-0-1 at the LEC in 2018-19.
The Clan came out the better of the two sides in the first 20 minutes and were justly rewarded with a 2-0 lead.
Callegari got the first goal for SFU as a point shot from Matthew Berry-Lamontagna deflected off his body in the front of the net and squeaked through TWU's Mills, trickling across the goal line.
SFU went up by three at 6:02 of the second period when Smerek jumped on a rebound to the left of Mills, off a Mitch Ledyard shot, and snapped a quick wrister into a wide open net.
Getting a power play midway through the second period, the Spartans finally broke through on the scoreboard as Vilio whipped a shot from the point through traffic to the top right corner past the glove of Lenko.
Bergh restored SFU's three-goal lead at 5:41 of the third period, scoring in his first game with SFU.
Less than two minutes later, Fontaine sniped a shot from a sharp angle to make it a 4-2 game.
With 9:33 to play, Kranabetter whipped a shot past Mills on the power play to make it 5-2.
Barret Kropf – TWU Head Coach
"It was one of those games that you wish you could have a redo. We just weren't skating. For a team that is built on speed, we definitely didn't display our speed tonight. Then when we were being outskated, they drew penalties and they were effective on their power play.
"There might have been a few guys who had above average games, but overall as a team, we weren't ready to compete. I'm a little bit puzzled because I thought we had a great week of practice.
"We just couldn't turn the corner and get going. We're not a slow team, so I don't know. Maybe the turkey was delayed by 10 days or something. Sometimes you have a stinker and we just need to bounce back tomorrow."
• TWU is now 3-1 against SFU through four regular season games this year.
• Forward Spencer Roberts (Stouffville, Ont.) made his debut with the Spartans after transferring from UOIT (University of Ontario Institute of Technology) over the break.
• The Spartans came into this weekend having last played SFU in the regular season, with TWU earning a 4-2 road victory to cap its fall semester.
• Over the break, TWU played an exhibition contest against the Kazakhstan National Junior Team, losing 4-3 in overtime.
• Five Spartans and four SFU players represented the BCIHL Young Stars against Kazakhstan in a 2-0 loss.
• Prior to Thursday, the Spartans only regulation time loss in the fall was a 4-2 setback against Selkirk in Castlegar, B.C.
The Spartans will host Selkirk Friday at 7 p.m. at the Langley Events Centre. SFU has a day off before also playing Selkirk on home ice Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre.
Recognized for quality, TWU has received seven consecutive A+ rankings for Quality of Teaching and Learning, holds three Canada Research Chairs, and wins national championships in CIS sports. More importantly, lives are changed at TWU through its whole-person, Christ-centred approach to education. With a wide array of undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree-completion programs, TWU equips leaders of character and competence to make a positive impact in the lives of others.
About Spartan Athletics
As official members of U SPORTS, the Spartans currently compete in 10 sports in the Canada West conference, including women's and men's soccer, volleyball, basketball, cross country and track & field. TWU also competes in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) in men's hockey. Since TWU entered U SPORTS in 1999, the Spartans have won 11 U SPORTS team championships and 25 Canada West team championships.