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Saints begin march into BCIHL season

Selkirk College Saints goaltender and Castlegar native Patrick Zubick is one of the key returning players who will help make the team competitive in the 2018-2019 British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) season. — Photo courtesy Selkirk Saints

The student athletes on the Selkirk College Saints are settling into their classes and ramping up their energy on the ice as the team prepares for the 2018-2019 British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) season.

With a roster that includes half veterans and half rookies, this season’s edition of the Saints is loaded with both potential and faces that local hockey fans will recognize.

“There’s always a lot of energy at this time of the season because players are excited to get back on the ice and get to know their new teammates,” says Saints’ head coach Brent Heaven. “We have a great balance on the team this season and once the guys get settled, I’m confident we’ll have a very competitive team.”

Over the past six seasons, the Saints have been a BCIHL powerhouse. The Castlegar-based team won four straight league championships between 2013 and 2016 and last season settled for second after Trinity Western University captured its first BCIHL title.

With the addition of six former Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) players in the off-season, the Saints’ roster of 25 athletes now includes more than half with regional hockey ties to teams like the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, Castlegar Rebels, Nelson Leafs and Creston Valley Thunder Cats.

“It’s important that Selkirk College provides an opportunity for those who play in our region to pursue both a post-secondary education and hockey at a higher level,” says Kim Verigin, Selkirk College’s Athletics & Recreation Coordinator. “Brent has done a fantastic job of recruiting players who not only make our team better, but are familiar with the Selkirk College communities.”

Another key addition to the team this year is assistant coach Garrett Turner who has arrived from Red Deer College where he was the assistant on a team that featured former Saints’ defenceman Arie Postmus. He will join Heaven and assistant coach Justin Kanigan behind the bench.

The Saints training camp is currently underway with the first game action taking place on Vancouver Island on September 21 and 22 when the team will play the University of Victoria and Vancouver Island University, the latter featuring five former Saints who are continuing their education at the Nanaimo post-secondary.

The Saints open the regular season at home against rival Simon Fraser University on October 5 and 6 at the Castlegar & District Recreation Centre. The first semester schedule features eight home games that ends in early-December with a pair of contests against Vancouver Island University at the Beaver Valley Arena in Fruitvale (December 1) and the Nelson & District Community Complex (November 30).

“Though we’re based in Castlegar, Selkirk College is a regional post-secondary and the Saints are a regional hockey team,” says Verigin. “With so many ties to both Nelson and Beaver Valley, it’s a great opportunity to bring this calibre of hockey to those communities. That weekend is going to be one of the highlights of our schedule this season.”

As the Saints prepare for the upcoming campaign, they will take a break from the rink on September 16 for the Fifth Annual Selkirk College Saints Golf Tournament. With an assist to title sponsor Kootenay Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, the scramble tournament is played at the Castlegar Golf Club and includes a fantastic meal, prizes and silent auction.

“Community support for our team is vital and this golf tournament has become a terrific annual event that draws more than 100 players of all abilities,” says Heaven. “It’s a great day to unwind, have some fun and raise money to help our student athletes compete in the upcoming season.”

You can find out more information about the golf tournament and register your team at selkirk.ca/saints or by calling the Castlegar Golf Club (250.365.5006).