What a perfect evening. It was a night to recognize graduating athletes Billy Cawthorn and Halen Cordoni as the Briercrest Clippers hosted the SAIT Trojans for the first of a two-game series, and the home team did everything right as they cruised to a 4-0 pasting over the visitors.
"We put it all together and it was great to get the win for the graduating guys," commented goaltender Dominik Tmej after posting his first career ACAC shutout. "It's a team game and we had each other's backs today."
SAIT currently sits in second place and would enjoy a first round playoff bye as the standings currently sit. They boast the number one powerplay as well as the top two scorers in the league, and they threw everything they had at the Clippers- speed, intensity, and attempted intimidation. Unfortunately for them, Briercrest had the answer to all of it and sent a message with the resounding victory.
The Clippers got things going in the first period with a hard forecheck by Zach Thususka that removed the puck from a Trojan defender. Reagan Poncelet fed Trey Doell in the slot and he snapped a shot past SAIT's Boston Bilous for an early lead. Stoic minute-muncher Campbell Ens scored a beauty ten minutes later that even made him smile, and Tmej shut the door at the other end when the Trojans tried to respond.
A scoreless second period saw ramped up intensity as both teams threw some big hits, and it wasn't until a penalty kill midway through the third period that Briercrest put the game out of reach with Joshua Wiens sniping a shorthanded goal. The capacity crowd at the Barkman arena roared and the celebration was on. Caleb Grandfield added the icing on the cake with his fifth of the season as the final horn blew for the 4-0 win.
Wiens talked about what the result means for their playoff positioning: "We're looking for home ice- if we can keep getting wins, we'll put ourselves in a good spot. We'd love to have playoff games in the Barkman."
Players of the game were Halen Cordoni for the Clippers, and Taden Rattie for the Trojans.
Arsenault scores the game-winner in Game 2
Like the Godfather part 2, the sequel surpassed the original as the Clippers ground out a thrilling 5-4 overtime victory in Saturday afternoon's rematch against the SAIT Trojans.
Fresh off a 4-0 victory the night before, Briercrest looked to get the sweep to climb towards home ice advantage with their playoff spot already clinched. Although matchups with SAIT are always intense and physical affairs, the Clippers looked like they were following Michael Corleone's advice: "Never hate your enemies. It clouds your judgment."
Down 2-0 early in the second period and with plenty of talk coming their way from the visitors, Briercrest kept their noses to the grindstone and started chipping away as goals from Alex Pellerin and Brandon Kelly closed the deficit to 3-2 going into the third.
Trey Doell tied things up moments after play resumed, and Caleb Grandfield and SAIT's Dylan Williamson traded goals as neither team was able to pull away in regulation. A timely backcheck by Halen Cordoni as well as several incredible glove saves by Dominik Tmej brought on overtime, where Jacob Arsenault picked the top corner to seal the 5-4 win.
Trey Doell and Dylan Schives were awarded player of the game honours.
"We're feeling pretty good," said Grandfield afterward. "Those were two big wins that we needed."
Added Doell: "SAIT's a top team- we played simple, hard hockey and we didn't quit."
Briercrest wraps up their regular season next weekend on the road at Portage College, while SAIT will have their bye before playoffs begin.