Varsity falls just short of the postseason


Alec Burks awaits the puck against Selkirk in the URC on March 1. The Eagles won, 4-1.

Alec Burks awaits the puck against Selkirk in the URC on March 1. The Eagles won, 4-1.
Alec Burks awaits the puck against Selkirk in the URC on March 1. The Eagles won, 4-1.

By Peter Sowards


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The EWU Eagles hockey team split its regular-season games with Selkirk College and missed out on the fourth and final spot in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League playoffs.

After a 4-1 victory over Selkirk on March 1 at the EWU Recreation Center, the Eagles needed a win on March 2 combined with a University of Victoria loss to make the playoffs for the second straight year. Unfortunately, neither of those happened as EWU fell behind 3-1 after the first period and ultimately lost 7-3 with Victoria defeating last-place Trinity Western 7-2.

“I think we ran out of gas,” coach Bill Shaw said. “We dug ourselves a pretty big hole at the end of January. We almost had gotten our way out of it but it looked like Saturday we just didn’t have a whole lot left.” Selkirk finished the year with a 20-3 record—two of the three losses came thanks to the Eagles. “We went 2-2 against them which is probably better than a lot of people thought,” Shaw said. “We thought we could get one more.”

Despite missing the playoffs, Shaw feels optimistic about his team. All but three players—captain Bret Kellog, Joel Blasko and Matt Randall—are set to return for the start of the 2013-14 season. “The core of the group is coming back minus our captain, Shaw said. “We’ve got some guys coming in that can help out even more. It’s going to take quite a few guys to replace the leadership Bret brought but I think we’ve got some guys in there that can step up and do it.”

Before EWU’s two-game showdown with Selkirk, freshman defender Chase Wharton said the 2012-2013 season will “definitely” be a disappointment if the Eagles do not make the playoffs. “If you don’t [think that], you’re not competing hard enough,” he said. “You have to want to win. Like Vince Lombardi said, ‘If it’s not about winning, why do they even keep score?’ It’s a big deal.”

Leading the Eagles with 19 assists on the season, senior center Bret Kellogg said the Eagles’ misfortunes this season hardened their collective wills. “We’re battling for our lives right now,” he said. “The adversity is at our highest right now. I believe that adversity introduces a man to himself—that’s what we have to do to ourselves.”

The Eagles suffered key injuries during the 2012-13 season, forcing players to step into roles they would not have normally been afforded. “You had some guys asked to do some things they probably weren’t expected to do when they came here in September,” Shaw said.

Despite a 3-6 stretch from the end of October through November, Shaw said his team kept their heads up. “We had a lot of times where you could have packed it in and said, ‘Hey, this just isn’t our year,’” he said. “We did win some games there when we were banged up. Every one of those wins is coming back to be [important]. Those three games that we did win out of the nine when we had guys banged up are certainly a help for us now.

“We’ve had a pretty good run. You got to be proud of the guys for not going away when it was probably easy to.”

EWU finished with a 9-14-0-1 overall season record. Freshman winger Uriah Machuga finished as the team’s points leader with 30 in his first season with the Eagles, scoring 15 goals and collecting 15 assists. He was also the team’s leading goal-scorer and his 30 points tied for eighth-best in the BCIHL. Goalkeeper Jason Greenwell finished with a .898 save percentage, just ahead of teammate Cash Ulrich, who saved 86.8 percent of shots on goal.

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