SPECIAL TEAMS FALTER AS STEAM FALL TO COYOTES IN HOME OPENER

After a 2-0 weekend last weekend on the road against Princeton and Grand Forks, the Summerland Steam were excited to open their home schedule Friday night against the Osoyoos Coyotes. The first home game of the season for Summerland set off a new rivalry series with the ‘Yotes, which is entertaining every single year. With tonnes of new faces on either side of the puck we were expecting the rivalry to heat up quickly, and we weren’t disappointed. Prior to puck drop we heard from Head Coach John Depourcq in our pre-game show, and he mentioned how badly Summerland wanted to get off to a fast start in their home opener.

It didn’t happen.

As a matter of fact the Summerland Steam got off to an extremely slow start, and gave up the game’s opening goal to Coyotes’ Captain Rainer Glimpel just :16 into the contest. The top line for Osoyoos of Glimpel, Bobby Larue and Braeden Tuck were buzzing all night, and it started early when Steam starter Austin Wells made 2 quick saves before Glimpel banged the puck into an open net for a 1-0 Coyotes’ lead.

Osoyoos did a great job of dictating play early in the hockey game, not allowing Summerland a shot on goal for the first 8 minutes of play. When the Steam finally did get some shots through to Coyotes’ goaltender Brett Soles, he was up to the task in stopping all 9 shots he ended up facing in the first period.

The Coyotes would add to their lead late in the period after some sloppy play by the Summerland defense. On the power play, the Steam had trouble vacating their own zone because of an aggressive set of Coyotes’ penalty killers. They put on the necessary pressure to cause a turnover, and Rainer Glimpel fed Bobby Larue cross-crease for an easy tap in. The shorthanded tally was the first for the 20-year old Larue and his first in the KIJHL, and it put the ‘Yotes up 2-0 late in the first period.

After the intermission we saw what seemed to be a different Steam team. Whatever was said to them in the dressing room between periods seemed to wake them up a bit, and they came out with a purpose in the second period. After they killed off a penalty that carried over from the first period, Summerland turned up the heat on the Osoyoos Coyotes, but still couldn’t beat Brett Soles. They were driving play, controlling the boards by using the body, and directing shots at the net without any results.

Finally, just over 7 minutes into the second period, the Steam broke through. The goal came courtesy of Braden Eliuk, who took a nifty feed out of the corner from Riley Pettitt and went high glove side to beat Soles and cut the Coyotes lead to just 1. Just like that, a Steam squad that looked lifeless in the first half of the first period had some jump, but that’s where things took a turn for the worse for the home team.

After the Eliuk goal to bring them within one, the Steam got into penalty trouble. If you’ve been following this rivalry more than just this year, you’ll know that when the Steam get into penalty trouble against the Osoyoos Coyotes they don’t fare well. Last season in 8 games in the regular season, 4 were blowouts. All 4 were blowouts because the ‘Yotes scored a minimum of 3 power play goals in each of those 4 games.

The first regular season matchup of 2015/16 ended much the same as those 4 blowouts in 2014/15. The Steam started the parade to the penalty box in the middle of the 2nd period, and Osoyoos didn’t hesitate to capitalize on their opportunities. They made it 3-1 with just over 3 minutes to play in the 2nd period when Jackson Glimpel was the beneficiary of a beautiful 3 way passing play. Judd Repole started the play from the right wing wall, where he stopped up to shake a Steam defender, an fed cross-ice for Colin Bell. Bell then found Glimpel sneaking to the back door and put a pass on his tape for a tap in.

At 5 on 5 this game was as even and closely played as we’ve come to expect from these two teams. With the man advantage though, Osoyoos proved deadly on this night.

In the third it was much of the same as in the 2nd. Summerland insisted on wearing out the hinges on the penalty box door, and the Coyotes continued to capitalize. Braeden Tuck was the first to capitalize, scoring his first KIJHL goal on the powerplay near the midway mark of the 3rd period to make it 4-1. Not long after it was Carter Robinson with another powerplay goal, his first in the KIJHL, to make it 5-1. Carter Shannon and Austin Cleaver drew assists on the 5th Coyotes’ goal of the night.

Rainer Glimpel would then round out the scoring for Osoyoos with just over 4 minutes to go, completing a 4 point night and effectively driving a stake through the Summerland Steam.

Cody Egilson would add a powerplay goal for the Steam late in the game, with just 42 seconds remaining, to round out the boxscore at 6-2 in favour of the visiting Osoyoos Coyotes.

It was a largely forgettable night for the Steam, but there were a few good things to take away:

  • Summerland was quite good on the night, despite the score. At 5on5 the game was as even as it gets, as both teams had opportunities.
  • Lots of the problems that led to penalties were failures to clear the puck from the defensive zone. If Summerland can tighten up their zone exits at the defensive blue line, they’ll make their own lives much easier transitioning to offense.
  • Despite allowing 6, Austin Wells was very good in his first home start for the Summerland Steam. He made several saves in the early parts of the game that kept the score in check.
  • The three rookie defensemen, Matthew Monk, Keenan Scott and Brogan Lautard were impressive in their home debut. I would argue on this night that Scott was the best defenseman on the ice for either team.
  • The Yukon line (sans Jarrett Malchow) keeps doing what it does. Riley Pettitt and Wyatt Gale inherited a new line mate in Braden Eliuk, but didn’t miss a beat. As usual they were ferocious on the forecheck, strong in the defensive zone, and caused lots of problems for opposing players.
  • Cole Woodliffe looked good in his first game back in a Steam uniform. The line of Woodliffe, Paulsen Lautard and Jack Mills will look to get back on the scoresheet tonight in Spokane.
  • In Spokane, Summerland will likely be without Calvin Hadley. Awaiting word from the KIJHL on the matter, but Hadley received two 10-minute misconducts in the final 10 minutes of Friday night’s contest, which in the past has carried an automatic 1 game suspension.

After the loss last night, the Summerland Steam will look to regroup tonight in Spokane. They’ll make their lone visit to the United States tonight to face the Braves at the Eagles-Ice-A-Rena at 7pm. The Spokane Braves come off a 4-1 loss to the Nelson Leafs last night in Nelson that sees them sit at 1-2-0-1 through 4 games played.

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