As we begin to approach the holiday season, the Summerland Steam Junior Hockey Club feel it important to help inside the community and give back to those in need. Tonight, the Steam will host their 3rd annual Food Drive to support the Summerland Food Bank. They ask all fans to bring a non-perishable food donation to the arena tonight and drop it off at the table on the way into the rink. For the generosity of fans from both teams, they will receive $2 off all regular priced tickets
The Princeton Posse come to town for just the second time this season, and it’s bound to be a battle as the two teams slug it out near the top of the Okanagan Division. Summerland has won two of three against the Posse thus far in 2017/18, but lost their most recent matchup by a 5-3 score. That was thanks to three power play goals from the Posse, with two of them coming late in the 3rd period on a 5-on-3 man advantage.
Princeton’s biggest strength is goaltending. The goaltending tandem of Bobby Milligan and Danyon Lorencz both boast save percentages near 92%, and between the two of them they give the Posse a chance to win every night. Both play the position in very different, but effective ways. Milligan is what I would consider a ‘freestyle’ goaltender, meaning he does what he needs to do to stop the puck, by any means necessary. Lorencz is more positionally sound. He doesn’t necessarily see everything that he stops, but because he plays the position well and reads plays well, he’s able to stop the majority of the pucks that come his way simply by being ‘in position’.
Up front and on defense, a good mix of veteran presence and youth have given Head Coach Mark McNaughton good minutes every night thus far. The likes of Mort Johnston, Tristyn Olsen and well-travelled KIJHL veteran Drew Carter give the Posse good, reliable leadership up front, while Noah Brusse, Kole Halvorson, and Summerland native Dawson Jenner play steady minutes on defense. The Posse sit 3rd in the Okanagan Division, three points clear of the Kelowna Chiefs and three points behind the second place Osoyoos Coyotes.
Summerland, meanwhile, continues to pace the Okanagan Division with 37 points, four points up on second place Osoyoos. They could see that lead dissipate at any time, however, with the Coyotes owning two games in hand on this particular date. The Steam will have to look for offense from perhaps some unlikely sources this weekend, as they’ll likely be without Everett Scherger and Luke Jirousek for another set of games while they recover from injury. They’ll have to rely on what we thought would be their strength from the beginning, and that’s their defense and goaltending.
The Steam have scored goals at an alarming rate so far this season, leading the KIJHL for the majority of the first half scoring over 4.5 goals per game on average. That’s taken a dip slightly recently, and looks like it will continue while they try to get healthy and back to a full 20 man roster every night.
They’ll rely on the presence of captain Sam Jones, Brogan Lautard, and Matt Huber to continue down the path they’ve been on, which is winning hockey games and remaining the best team in the Okanagan Shuswap conference.
Summerland will host Princeton and Revelstoke on back to back nights this weekend, while the Osoyoos Coyotes are on the road to Quesnel for a set of games against the Kamloops Storm. Princeton is in to face Summerland tonight, and on the road to play the Chase Heat on Saturday, while the Kelowna Chiefs host the Revelstoke Grizzlies Friday and the 100 Mile House Wranglers Saturday. The North Okanagan Knights host the Wranglers Friday night in their only game of the weekend.
For Summerland it’s a 7:30 start on both Friday and Saturday nights. Friday is the 3rd annual Summerland Steam Food Drive, while Saturday will be the inaugural Teddy Bear Toss at the Summerland Arena. Bring a new or gently used bear, in a bag, to throw on the ice when Summerland scores their first goal of the night!