No. 11 Simon Fraser Downs Montana to Earn PNCLL #1 Seed

MISSOULA, MT Up 8-6 at the intermission, No. 11 Simon Fraser blew the game open in the second half, outscoring Montana 8-1 over the final 30:00 minutes to earn a hard fought victory by a final score of 16-7.

The win concluded SFU's regular season and put an exclamation mark on the Clan's seventh straight regular season divisional title, going 8-0 in-conference and improving to 12-3 on the season, to enter next weekend's PNCLL Final Four Conference Championships as the top seed.

SFU junior midfielder Sam Clare (Ladner, BC/Vancouver College) tied his career high for both goals (6) and points (7) in a game with a team best 6 goals and an assist, while attackman Tyler Kirkby (Burnaby, BC/Burnaby South Secondary) chipped in with his ninth five-plus point outing of the season with 3 goals and 2 assists.

Attackmen, sophomore Lyndon Knuttila (Maple Ridge, BC/Thomas Haney Secondary) - 3g, and junior Ward Spencer (Saskatoon, SK/Evan Hardy Collegiate) - 2g, 1a, also had strong offensive performances on the day, registering 3 points each in the win, while Clan senior goaltender Darren Zwack (Sherwood Park, AB/Archbishop Jordan HS) backstopped Fraser with 20 saves and a save percentage of 0.740.

Knuttila fuelled an early Clan run, burying consecutive feeds from Kirkby, followed by a solo effort from senior midfielder Brendan Farrell, to put Fraser ahead 3-0. Appearing like SFU was going to pull away, Montana quickly quieted the Clan's initial assault and took back the momentum, answering with three goals of their own by Josh Jurgenson (Inglemoor, WA/Inglemoor HS), and back-to-back markers by Eric Larson (Salt Lake City, UT/Judge Memorial HS), to tie the game up at 3-3.

Clare's first of the game gave SFU back the lead at 4-3, but Montana continued to trade punches tieing the game at 4-4 on a late goal by Kit Jeffrey (Greenwich, CT/Brunswick Academy). Just when it appeared that the two teams would remain knotted to end the first frame, Clare weaved his way through the Griz defense to count his second goal with just 0:01 left on the clock to put the Clan up 5-4 after 15:00 minutes.

Spencer extended the Fraser lead to 6-4 to start the second quarter but Montana once again refused to roll over, responding with two more goals of their own, starting with a man-up goal by Jeffrey, followed by Cullen Weisbrod (Barrington, RI/Barrington HS) at even strength, to once again tie the game at 6-6. Clare continued to put the Clan on his back through the first half adversity, counting his third and fourth goal of the afternoon to give SFU a two-goal lead of 8-6 at the break.

Larson scored his third of the game to open the second half scoring and bring Montana back to within one at 8-7 but that would be as long as the Griz would be able to hang with SFU, as the Clan exploded for an 8-goal run the rest of the way to seal a decisive victory.

Freshman attack Clayton Fenney (North Vancouver, BC/Handsworth Secondary) gave Fraser a much need burst off the bench, knocking in his fourth goal of the season and then assisting Clare's fifth of the game to reset the Clan lead to three at 10-7. SFU would continue to roll on the man-up with Kirkby finishing a pass from Spencer to make it 11-7, backed up by Clare's sixth of the day, to give the Clan a five goal lead of 12-7 heading down the stretch.

The fourth quarter would continue to be all SFU, as Kirkby buried a pass from Clare, followed by a determined effort from Ward Spencer, and then Kirkby again for his third of the game, assisted by sophomore midfielder Matt Bailey (Richmond, BC/H.J. Cambie), to put Fraser up by a comfortable margin of 15-7. Knuttila would add one more for the Clan, off a pass from sophomore midfielder Andrew Branting (Duncan, BC/Cowichan Secondary), to record his fifth hat trick of the season and end the game by a final score of 16-8.

Simon Fraser will now have 6 days to prepare for the PNCLL Final Four Conference Championships, May 3-4 at Tahoma High School in Convington, WA, where the top seeded Clan will play a rematch versus Montana as the No. 4 seed. No. 2 Oregon State (10-4, 7-1 PNCLL) will play No. 3 Oregon (7-6, 6-2 PNCLL) in the other Conference Semi-Final.


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