Steam leading scorer Jack Mills lifted Summerland to a 2-1 OT win scoring both goals Friday night. Photo: Sarah Mayer

It’s always good when you get a big performance out of your team when you need it most, and Head Coach John Depourcq got that last night in 100 Mile House. The Summerland Steam started their 2 game set with the Wranglers the right way, coming up with a 2-1 OT win thanks to two goals from leading scorer Jack Mills.

Mills played hero on Friday night, but the real story was Jake Mullen in the Summerland crease. The 20 year old from Couer D’Alene, Idaho stopped 34 of the 35 shots he saw from the Wranglers on Friday, but more importantly he came up with big saves when Summerland needed it most.

Since joining the Steam on October 23rd, Mullen has stabilized the crease and provided excellent goaltending in every game he’s played. In 5 appearances including Friday night, he’s posted a stingy 1.62 Goals Against Average and a .934 SV%.

On Friday night he had to be sharp early, as Summerland needed some time to shake out the bus legs from the trip. In the first five minutes of the hockey game the Steam didn’t look like they belonged in the same league as the Wranglers, let alone on the same ice surface. That passed though, and once they got their feet underneath them it was actually an extremely entertaining hockey game. The pace was borderline frantic, with both teams getting chances on the opposing net.

Mullen stood tall for Summerland but Zane Steeves was equal to task at the other end, keeping the score tied at 0 late in the first period. Summerland was able to open the scoring in the final minute, as Jack Mills redirected a Keenan Scott shot up over Steeves to give the visitors a lead heading to the break. Jarrett Malchow would draw the second assist on the play after he cruised down the middle and took a pass from Wyatt Gale off the wall. Malchow fanned on the original shot, but picked the puck up and fed Keenan Scott at the point. He put a low hard shot toward the front of the net where Mills made a good redirection to get it up and over Zane Steeves.

In the second period was where Jake Mullen really put on a clinic, making several key saves to keep the game at a 1-0 advantage for the South Okanagan club. No scoring would take place in the second, although 100 Mile did outshoot Summerland 15-10 in the middle frame.

It looked like Mullen was primed for his first goose egg for the Steam until the 13:53 mark of the third period. With just over 7 minutes remaining, former Steam forward Brett Harris (2012/13) got loose on a 2-on-1 with Wranglers’ leading scorer Justin Bond. Harris made a great pass around a sprawling Steam defender, and Bond did a good job to beat Mullen to tie the game at 1. Todd Bredo would draw the second assist on the only Wranglers’ goal of the night.

The game would stay tied 1-1 into the final minute of play, and it looked like we were destined for overtime, as not much was going on in the way of scoring chances after the Wranglers’ goal with 7:07 remaining. Just when we thought the clock was going to wind down, it looked like Summerland had the winner with 14.9 seconds on the clock. After some good work down low the puck came to Wyatt Gale in the slot. As Wranglers’ goaltender pushed off the left post to challenge the shot, the net came loose off the mooring. Gale put the puck in the net, but it was called back as the net was off, and we were in fact destined for OT.

Off the ensuing face-off, Summerland was gifted a power play by literally the DUMBEST rule in the book. Trying to clear the puck, Wranglers’ defenceman Todd Bredo flipped the puck up over the glass and sent Summerland to the powerplay. They weren’t able to convert in the remaining 10 seconds of regulation time, but the penalty carried through to OT.

In that overtime period, Summerland started (and finished) 4-on-3. A good power play set up created three opportunities before Jack Mills was finally able to convert on the 4th shot on the PP. Mills did a good job to pick up a loose puck on the wall and create himself some time and space with a good button-hook maneuver off the wall. He was able to look off the defender and create a lane to the net, where he shelfed a puck over the glove of Zane Steeves to give the Steam a victory.

With that victory, Summerland boosts their winning streak to 5 straight games. The Steam and the Wranglers will go at it again tonight at the Cariboo Memorial Complex in Williams Lake, BC.

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