VIU Mariners player Alex Milligan shoots and scores during the shootout as his team defeated the Selkirk Saints 5-4 on Saturday at the Nanaimo Ice Centre. GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

VIU Mariners come back to beat Saints in shootout

Hockey team jostling for home-ice advantage in the playoffs

The VIU Mariners needed a shootout, but they were able to secure a win and one extra point that’s important to their playoff positioning.

Vancouver Island University defeated the Selkirk Saints 5-4 in a shootout Saturday in B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League action at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.

The Saints led 3-1, but the Mariners twice tied it up and were able to beat their closest pursuers in the BCIHL standings.

“It’s all about battling and coming back. These guys were showing lots of heart,” said Steve Paul, coach of the Mariners. “To pull it off and get the two points was huge for this club tonight.”

The Mariners fired 55 shots on goal, and stuck with it until the pucks went in.

“It was all about traffic, getting pucks to the net and making it difficult for [their goaltender],” said Paul.

Alex Milligan scored the winning goal in the shootout and said even when the Mariners were trailing, they tried to stick with playing their game.

“I think you have to. You can’t really stray and get too far away from what you’re doing to make yourself successful and the team successful,” he said. “I think we played a really good game. We were getting pucks deep and just putting everything on net.”

Milligan said his team knew Saturday’s game would be a challenging one.

“They capitalized on their chances and we knew they would,” he said. “I think it shows a lot that our team’s got a lot of determination being down 3-1 … and coming back, and those are big points. We’re fighting with them for home ice for playoffs, so every point is crucial, especially at this time of year.”

Paul said players understand the importance of home-ice advantage in the playoffs, so now they’ve got to go earn it.

“We’re not perfect by any means for the playoffs, we’ve got to work a little bit harder, practise a little bit harder…” he said. “[They] need a little push here and there and a kick in the shorts.”

Garrett Murray led VIU with two goals Saturday and Dylan McCann and Gage Colpron were other scorers. Matt Huber made 22 saves and was perfect in five rounds of the shootout.

GAME ON … Next action for the VIU Mariners is Feb. 2, when they host SFU at 7:15 p.m. at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.

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