STEAM TAKE 4 OF 6 POINTS IN TRIO OF GAMES WITH KNIGHTS

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While I’ve been away for the past 10 days, the Summerland Steam have been hard at work. In 3 games in the past 10 days, all with the North Okanagan Knights, the Steam picked up 2 divisional wins. The first, a 5-3 victory on September 27th, started with some disconcerting news.

Prior to the first clash of the season with the Knights, the Steam learned that Cole Woodliffe, who recently returned from camp with the Merritt Centennials of the BCHL, had signed with the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings. Woodliffe was returned to the Steam from Merritt prior to the Steam’s home opener on September 18th. He played two games with the Steam, collecting 4 goals, before departing for Saskatchewan.

Woodliffe’s departure, albeit after only 2 games, was a blow to the Steam and left a hole at or near the top of their lineup. Braden Eliuk was the young man Head Coach John Depourcq tabbed to join the big guns on the top line, and he’s performed admirably in the past 3 games. In the first meeting of the season on the 27th, the trio of Eliuk, Jack Mills and Paulsen Lautard combined for 9 points in the win. Lautard notched two goals, while Mills collected a goal and three assists and Eliuk picked up 3 assists of his own. Riley Pettitt and Cole Williams also scored in that victory, while Matthew Monk and Brogan Lautard each picked up an assist. Austin Wells collected the victory, making 25 saves on 28 North Okanagan shots.

In the second of three consecutive games with the Knights, the Steam didn’t fare as well. Jack Mills opened the scoring on the power play just three minutes in for the Steam, but that’s about where the positives ended. Ryan Ignace would tie the game with 8 minutes to go in the first period, and newly returned Blaine Caton would net his first two goals of the season in the third period to seal the victory for the Knights.

Austin Wells performed well in his 2nd straight start for the Steam, stopping 29 of 31 he faced. The third Knights goal found and empty net to seal the deal and does not count towards Wells’ stats.

For the Steam, Matt Huber would get the call in the third game, which took place on Sunday, October 4th. Huber, who has had a spectacular start to the 2015/16 KIJHL season, stopped 15 Knights shots en route to a 3-0 Summerland victory. Michael McLean notched his first KIJHL goal in the second period after he took a pass from Cody Egilson and deposited the puck past goaltender Tristan Quiring to give the Steam a 1-0 lead. Raphael Bassot also added an assist on the goal to collect his first point in just his 4th KIJHL game.

The big line would then go to work again for the Steam, as Jack Mills made it 2-0 while shorthanded with just 4:02 to play in the 2nd frame. Paulsen Lautard would draw an assist after getting loose down the right wing and making a beautiful move around a Knights’ defender before not being able to beat Quiring. Mills was there to clean up the loose puck for his 6th goal of the season.

Cole Williams would add another shorthanded marker in the third period to round out the scoring. Somehow, some way, the Steam managed to get loose on a 3-on-1 while shorthanded, and Cole Williams was the benefactor of a nice three way passing play for his 2nd of the season. Williams’ 2nd goal of the season (in his 7th game) matches his total from last season.

The win for Summerland on Sunday puts them one point out of 1st place in the Okanagan Division, just one point back of the Osoyoos Coyotes. The Steam are headed into the teeth of their schedule, however, as the 5 game stretch they are about to embark on might be the toughest of the season. On Friday the Steam will being a “3in3” weekend, with a road trip to the Kootenays. On Friday they’ll do battle with the 7-1 Beaver Valley Nitehawks before they head to Castlegar to play the Rebels on Saturday, and Nelson to play the Leafs on Sunday afternoon. Those three teams sit 1,2,3 in the Neil Murdoch Division respectively, and ALL are always extremely tough to play against.

After their three in three on the weekend, the Steam will renew acquaintances with the Osoyoos Coyotes in the desert on Wednesday, and then head to Kamloops to play the Storm on Friday night, October 16th.

Notes:

  • After the departure of Cole Woodliffe to Weyburn last week, the Steam have signed Forward Calvin Rout.
  • Matt Huber collected his first KIJHL shutout on Sunday vs. North Okanagan. It brings his early season splits to a 1.67 GAA with a .924 Sv% in 3 games.
  • Summerland did a good job limiting shots on net with good defensive play on Sunday. That’ll need to continue in order for them to come through this tough 5 game stretch they’re about to endure.
  • Summerland’s offense is nearly the best they come in the KIJHL, sitting 5th in the league and averaging 3.86 through 7 games.
  • On the defensive side, the Steam are allowing an average of 2.71 goals against per game, good for 9th in the KIJHL.
  • Special teams have been a bit of a battle for the Steam through their first 7 games. They’ve converted 4 of 37 powerplay opportunities (10.81%, 14th in the KIJHL) while the penalty kill ranks 9th, going 41 for 48 on the PK.
  • Cole Williams has started the season hot. We know him from last season as a dependable defender, but he’s brought some offense to the table early in the season to help his team pick up victories.
  • After a good September, the Steam will need to keep improving to carry a good record through October. After the 5 game stretch involving the Kootenay road trip, the Steam will then play 4 divisional games to close the month. 2 will come with the Princeton Posse and 2 will come with the Kelowna Chiefs.
  • Our next broadcast will come on October 18th when the Princeton Posse make their first visit to the Summerland Arena.

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