The UNBC Timberwolves had their chances, but it was Trinity Western who were the more clinical team, making the most of their chances and beating the TWolves 3-1 on Sunday in Prince George.
Early on, the Timberwolves came out on the hungriest side, prompting turnovers and chances in the opening minutes. Their hard work was rewarded in the eighth minute when Anthony Preston sent speedster Gregor Smith running behind the Spartans’ backline. The Kelowna product found Michael Henman for a finishing touch, and the fourth-year player finished him as the opener.
“I’ve been playing with Mikey for a while now. I know the spaces he’s going to attack, so I knew I had to put a good ball in there so he could hit it home,” Smith said after the game. “I’m happy for Mike.”
UNBC continued to press, as second-year forward Connor Lewis gave TWU problems on numerous occasions, but Trinity goaltender Alex Cordeiro was up to the task.
Late in the half, Trinity got a free kick from 22 yards out and they made the home side pay. The ball was sent into the box and UNBC goalkeeper Daniel Zadraavec found himself with a Spartan on top of him, before Adam Hajdecki could get it past the chaos around the goal line and in the net.
“That’s what held us back. It gave us motivation in the locker room,” said Brandon Torresan of TWU. “To raise a new level for the second half, and I think it showed. We stayed calm because they wouldn’t allow us to play, which is what we like to do. We communicated with each other, to figure out how to beat their press.
At halftime, the shots on goal were only 2-1 in favor of the Timberwolves.
The Timberwolves swept the late goal and went out intentionally in the second half. Both Henman and Smith had chances, while Tristan Torresan looked for TWU, but the game remained 1-1.
The Spartans found other gear as the half progressed, showing technical prowess in transition and taking advantage of a UNBC backline that lost starting defensemen Mitch Linley and Demian Dron in the match.
“They are both huge guys. On set pieces, it’s good to have a six-foot-five body in the box,” Smith said. “It hurt in that area, but they’re also strong defenders. When you cut your backline halfway through the game, it changes the dynamic and that really hurt us.
In the 73rd minute, the visitors found the green light they were looking for when Brandon Torresen completed a fine pass from substitute Luca Alberti, beating a tense Zadravec and making it 2-1.
“Their transition was better than ours. We were transitioning the whole game, but we weren’t clinical enough,” Smith said. “They made two good transitions and scored.”
With UNBC pressing for the equalizer and almost finding it on numerous occasions, Trinity took advantage at the other end, Marcus Tjernagel breaking and slipping one inside the right post for the insurance marker.
When the referee blew the final whistle, the Spartans had secured a 3-1 victory and a four-point weekend on the road.
“It’s huge, especially with two away games,” said Torresan. “It’s good to get points. Really good to build on, and we’re home next weekend. But it was good to get points.”
UNBC actually edged the Spartans 15-7, but left a lot of meat on the bone when it came to points and scoring opportunities. They are now preparing to host the Victoria Vikes next weekend at Masich Place for a doubleheader.