Embarking on a 3 game road trip to the Kootenays that will see them play 3 games in 2.5 days, the Summerland Steam knew the importance of the first game. That game took place Friday night in Beaver Valley, where the 7-1 Nitehawks awaited them. Heading into only the 3rd visit to the Fruitvale-Beaver Valley Arena in their 5 year history, the Steam hadn’t fared well in the past. In their previous two losses (Oct 22/’11; Sept 21/’13), the Steam were outscored 8-2, and they wanted to ensure that didn’t happen again.

A good start is important, particularly on the road in one of the toughest barns in the KIJHL. The Steam didn’t seem intimidated and came out with a purpose, possessing the puck and putting a handful of shots on Beaver Valley goaltender Drake Poirer in the first two minutes of action. Jarrett Malchow would get his first of the young KIJHL season just 1:49 into the contest after Matthew Monk drove a shot on net from the point. With the Steam on the power play, the rebound popped out to a wide open Malchow who was able to deposit the loose puck into an empty cage for a 1-0 lead.

The lead would last just over under 5 minutes, however, as the Nitehawks came with some pushback of their own. Steam starter Matthew Huber had an easy first few minutes, having to make just a couple of saves, but a failed clear by Summerland on the half-wall caused problems in the defensive zone. Jaxon Joseph was the benefactor of the struggles by Summerland defensively, as he took a pass from Tyler Ghirardosi and beat Huber to tie the game at 1. Jake Yuris drew the second assist on the Nitehawks equalizer, as he forced the turnover on the wall that led to the goal.

The Steam would regain their lead with 5:23 to play in the first frame after Jack Mills won a face-off clean in the Beaver Valley zone. The puck came straight back to Michael McEachern at the blue line, where he had the time to drag the puck to the middle and rifle a slap shot into the top corner above Poirer.

Cody Egilson would add to the lead just 1:21 later to give the Steam a 3-1 lead heading to the 1st intermission. Egilson was the benefactor of good speed after he did well to get open down the left wing. Jack Mills carried the puck through the neutral zone and left a defender in the dust before feeding a wide open Egilson, who beat Poirer high on the blocker side. Mills, who leads the Steam in scoring, would record his 2nd of 3 assists on the night.

All was swell for the Steam after the first period in Beaver Valley on Friday night. They were ahead on the scoreboard and on the shot clock, and had done a good job of shutting down a dangerous Beaver Valley team and keeping them to the outside for the majority of the first period. In the second frame though, things were much different. Near the midway mark of the 2nd period, it was the Nitehawks’ turn to score two quick ones. One came on the powerplay, a booming shot from the point off the stick of McKoy Hauck that beat Matt Huber. The other came shorthanded, just 1:47 later, off the stick of Allan Pruss.

Pruss was the recipient of a pass from Blake Sidoni, who did a great job to pressure the Summerland power play trying to exit the zone. Sidoni forced the turnover and caught Matt Huber out of the net, affording Pruss a wide open net to shoot at.

With the game tied at 3 after two quick Beaver Valley goals, Steam Head Coach John Depourcq did something that you don’t normally see in the middle of a tie game. In an effort to get the momentum back in his favour Coach Depourcq made a goaltending change, going to 20 year old veteran Austin Wells, and it seemed to work. Coach Depourcq’s team responded well and got themselves back on track, with the captain giving them the lead again with 6:19 to play in the second period.

After a superb stretch pass from Matthew Monk, Steam captain Paulsen Lautard found himself in alone against Drake Poirer. With a defender eventually on his back, Lautard was able to make a move to the forehand and go high glove on Poirer to put the Steam back in front 4-3.

Lautard would add the insurance marker in the 3rd period as well after he took a pass from Jack Mills and got loose in front of the net to knock home his 8th of the season. That would round out the scoring, with the Steam taking a 5-3 victory in game 1 of a 3 game weekend.

Next they’ll go to Castlegar to play the Rebels on Saturday night at 7:00 before heading to Nelson for a matinee with the Leafs on Sunday at 2:30. You can catch all that action on PlayFullScreen!

Game Notes:

  • Jack Mills continues his hot start for the Steam, recording 3 more points. He now sits in a tie for 3rd in KIJHL scoring with 17 points through 8 games played.
  • Friday night in Beaver Valley was the 4th time in the first 8 games of the KIJHL season that saw Summerland register 45 shots or more.
  • Summerland’s defense was great again in this game. The young members of the defense core, Brogan Lautard, Matthew Monk, and Keenan Scott have impressed early in the season and fit in extremely well. Scott did not play on Friday night in Beaver Valley.
  • Summerland will be without defensive stalwart Alex Williams for some time. Williams suffered a broken finger this week and did not play in Beaver Valley. He is not expected to play for a couple of weeks.
  • Summerland’s powerplay still seems to be causing them some problems, but not in the way that you’d think. The offensive zone on the power play seems to work pretty well. They generate shots, drive the net, and manage to score at a 11.90% clip, which is league average. The problems with the Steam power play seem to start in their own zone. They seem to have trouble breaking out of the defensive zone on the power play, and often give up shorthanded chances.
  • On the flip side of that, the Steam PK has been potent. They’ve scored as many shorthanded goals so far this season as they have on the powerplay, and are operating at a near 86% clip in the first 8 games.
  • Yet to be confirmed, but expect to see Austin Wells get the start against his former team tonight when the Steam face-off with the Castlegar Rebels (8-2-0-0) at the Castlegar Rec Complex. Puck drop goes at 7:00PM PST.

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