MILLS TURNS A TRICK AS STEAM WIN AGAIN

Summerland celebrates a goal during their 5-1 victory over the Kelowna Chiefs on November 6.  Photo: Sarah Mayer (shotsbysarah.tumblr.com)

Summerland celebrates a goal during their 5-1 victory over the Kelowna Chiefs on November 6.
Photo: Sarah Mayer (shotsbysarah.tumblr.com)

For the third time of the KIJHL season, the Summerland Steam and the Kelowna Chiefs locked horns on Friday night in what was a spirited and entertaining affair at the Summerland Arena. Going into the game we went over how good Kelowna’s powerplay had been, and I thought if Summerland could stay off the penalty kill they’d be okay.

The start of the game is always important, no matter the game, and Summerland got off to a good start in this one. Just 1:16 into the game, Alex Williams put the Steam on the board with a long shot from the point that found it’s way through traffic and eluded Chiefs’ goaltender Brady Lenardon. Williams’ second of the year, assisted by Jarrett Malchow and Wyatt Gale, put the Steam out to a 1-0 lead and gave them the start they were after on the scoreboard.

Summerland would do a good job to control the play for the majority of the first period, not allowing goaltender Jake Mullen to get too much work. That was, of course, until the Steam took back to back penalties to put themselves down 5-on-3 with about 7 minutes to play in the period. Kelowna wasted no time getting to work on their power play, and were able to convert on the 5-on-3.

After some great pressure by the Chiefs in the Summerland zone, the visitors got set up and began to work the puck around. Josh Baird had a couple of shot attempts blocked, but managed a slap pass on the third attempt that found Jonathan Lee at the side of the Steam net. Lee made a nice one-touch pass across the goalmouth to a wide open Ryan Lawson on the back door. The Kelowna captain made no mistake, collecting his seventh of the season and tying the game at 1.

After a first period that saw Summerland outshoot Kelowna 9-8, we were stuck in a 1-1 tie. The shots on goal really didn’t tell the story of the period, as half of Kelowna’s shots in the period came on the 2-man advantage they eventually scored on.

In the second, both teams came out hard looking to gain the lead. Kelowna was provided a good chance just a minute and change into the second period when Calvin Hadley was assessed a 5-minute major for head contact and a game misconduct. On the back check, Hadley made a hit (yes, it was high) on Tyler Love in the Summerland defensive zone. Referee Nick Panter was 8 feet or so away from the play, looking directly at it, and did not offer a penalty call. Let me be clear on this: It was a penalty. There’s no doubt about the fact that it was a penalty, but it wasn’t worth 5 and a game and a 2 game suspension.

Love remained on the ice long enough to get a whistle to stop play, before getting up slowly and heading for the bench. He didn’t miss a shift. As he was skating off the ice, the referees conferred in their half-moon in front of the penalty box, and eventually decided to send Hadley to an early shower and cause him to miss the next 2 contests due to suspension.

The Kelowna bench was incensed with the hit, and made sure Summerland knew about it with a run of expletives that won’t be repeated. With both teams jawing at one another, Kelowna assistant coach Lennie Rampone got involved screaming expletives at the Summerland bench, all while telling them they weren’t a classy bunch. The Steam, of course, didn’t back down and continued to jaw with the Kelowna coaching staff. Eventually, Coach John Depourcq demanded the Steam stand down, they did so, and the Kelowna bench settled as well. After tempers calmed, Kelowna’s staff turned to their own bench and told them to “bury” Summerland on the impending 5 minute power play.

It didn’t really work out the way the Chiefs had planned. Summerland did a GREAT job on the extended kill, not allowing Kelowna to set up, and making sure they cleared when the opportunity presented itself. Near the end of the powerplay, some great work by Riley Pettitt allowed Summerland an offensive opportunity, and Jack Mills made no mistake.

On a long clear out of the Summerland zone, Pettitt decided to go in on the forecheck, and caused the defenseman to turn the puck over. The puck was eventually cleared, but Pettitt picked the puck off that Kelowna defender too and fought his way back into the zone. He did work against two Kelowna defenders and shipped the puck across to a streaking Jack Mills, who took it on the backhand and lifted it up and over Brady Lenardon to give the Steam a 2-1 lead. They wouldn’t look back.

The goal, Mills’ 7th of the year, came shorthanded with 3:45 remaining in the second period. The Steam would kill the remainder of the penalty and Mills would score another, his 8th, just :26 seconds after his first. Riley Pettitt was again the key factor that led to the goal, as he was able to free the puck from the corner on the forecheck and feed Mills, who went blocker side on Lenardon for a 3-1 Summerland lead.

They’d take that into the third period, where they’d add two more to round out the score. Summerland did a good job to ensure Kelowna had limited opportunity in the third period, and when they did get a chance Jake Mullen was up to the task.

Cole Williams would extend Summerland’s lead to 4-1 with just over 4 minutes remaining, after he took a pass from Wyatt Gale and went high blocker side for his 7th of the season. Mills would then complete the hat trick on the power play with just :33 left on the clock, taking a pass off the cycle from Braden Eliuk and rifling a shot, beating Lenardon low to the glove side off the post and in for his 9th of the season.

Overall, it was a great win for the Summerland Steam and their 3rd straight. After Kelowna beat them twice in a row two weekends ago, it was important for Summerland to come out and play a good hard game, which they did. They got a good effort from every single guy in uniform on Friday night, and they’ll hope for the same thing when they take to the ice tonight to play the Castlegar Rebels.

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