Briercrest drops razor-thin decision to the defending champs

Posted: January 23, 2015

11 hours and 54 minutes is a pretty long time. That's the amount of penalty minutes racked up by the SAIT Trojans, which not only leads the league but as recently as Christmas was on pace to break the all-time penalty minute record, set back when the Soviet Union was still around. SAIT might just be the ACAC's Red Menace, which certainly appeared to be their intent as they brought their act to Barkman Arena Friday night. 

On paper, the game is a difficult matchup for Briercrest. The least penalized team against the most penalized team; the defending champs against a squad fighting to get into the playoffs. While SAIT's style of play creates a well-rounded understanding of the word "reprehensible", they have the offensive firepower to win even when averaging over half an hour in the penalty box every night. 

The Clippers came out with a strong defensive game in the first, fighting through checks and confining the Trojans' chances to the perimeter. Though skating a little tentatively at first, Briercrest directed some solid chances at the Trojans net and showed composure in the face of SAIT's tactics. A tight checking period ended without any score.

The second period saw the tension and extra-curricular activity on the part of the guests increase. SAIT's fourth penalty of the evening came at the six minute mark, and Aaron Armstrong made them pay, taking a setup from Brett Lafond and Erik Robitaille and electrifying the crowd while putting the home side up 1-0. The first-place Trojans pressed hard, and their efforts bore fruit with seven minutes left in the period, knotting the score at 1-1 heading into the third. 

There was a clear shift in frustration after 40 minutes, as the visitors sensed that Briercrest wouldn't back down. Heads were dragging, and some air was turned blue at the bench as the Trojans coach reamed out his squad. The Clippers had a huge penalty kill to start the third period, and Connor Dobberthien had some stellar saves to keep the score tied. To a man, Briercrest battled hard in their defensive zone, and they were rewarded as the buzzer sounded to signal overtime.

The sudden death period was wide open, with both teams creating chances and the pace quickening. BJ Pirus made a huge shot block to clear his zone, and the crowd urged their team on. The ideal ending was not to be, however, as SAIT put the puck on the net and managed to bang in a scramble rebound to take the contest 2-1. 

It was the most emotional game Barkman has seen this season, and there is every reason to be proud of our student-athletes. Connor Dobberthien was player of the game for Briercrest, and Austin Smith won the honours for the guests. The second half of the series starts at 2:00pm tomorrow.

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