The Vikes got off to the perfect start in the playoffs, with a late Cam Stokes goal booking their place in the Canada West semi-final ahead of the UFV Cascades. However, their trip to Saskatoon was not one to remember and, after two tough losses, the Men’s team finished fourth overall in the western division.
It’s a disappointing end to a season in which the Vikes improved steadily throughout. Despite a defeat in their home opener versus UBC, the men’s team rallied well and didn’t lose a game for the rest of the regular season. This streak came to an end in the playoffs, and the Vikes will head back to Victoria with nothing to show for their efforts in Saskatchewan.
UVic lost their first game of the weekend to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, who finished first overall in the west. On an extremely blustery day, the Vikes laboured against the conditions and found themselves 2-0 down after just 30 minutes. U of S forward Garrett Peters scored both goals for the home team.
The final score was 2-0 as the Vikes were unable to come back from their slow start.
After losing their semi-final, UVic headed into the third-place game against UBC—a side they had beaten 2-1 just a couple weeks ago.
It was a thrilling first half, with the Vikes controlling play and generating the majority of scoring chances. Vikes forward Stokes came close several times, hitting the bar in the 25th minute as the Vikes looked to finish their season on a high note.
The opening finally came in the second half, when an own-goal from UBC gifted UVic the lead that they arguably deserved. They were unable to hold on for long, however, as UBC midfielder Jules Chopin equalized just 15 minutes later.
It looked as though extra-time might have been needed, but a late goal from Thunderbirds defender Tyler Mertens doomed the Vikes to their second fourth-place finish in two years.
While they will be understandably upset at their playoff woes, this will go down as a good season for the Vikes.
A team largely in transition, there are many players who will only get better in future years. Players like Michael Baart and Justin Donaldson-Andrade (both first years), and Tarnvir Bhandal (a second year) have all played important parts for the Vikes this season. Moving forward, these young players will have plenty more opportunities in future seasons for the Vikes. UVic favourites Cam Hundal and Craig Gorman will also return to the line-up next year, which bodes well for the Vikes as they will have a solid core of veteran players.
However, UVic will lose several important players come next year. Cameron Stokes is a huge loss for the Vikes, as his 10 goals were both impressive and important for the men’s team. Defender Alex Redpath and midfielder Craig Taylor will also be missed, but coach Bruce Wilson knows he has the right players to step into their some large shoes.
They will want to forget an upsetting playoff run, but there’s plenty to look forward to for the Vikes. With plenty of players looking to burst into the first team following the graduation of some key players, there are many reasons to be excited for next season.