An unstoppable force meets an immovable object. What gives?
Something’s going to have to give on Saturday night when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object at the Sun Bowl Arena in Osoyoos. The Summerland Steam take their 9 game winning streak into the desert to play the division leading Osoyoos Coyotes, who are undefeated on home ice. A big time winning streak meets a home undefeated streak that was put in jeopardy but not compromised last weekend, thanks to a come-from-behind 4-3 OT win for the Coyotes over the 100 Mile House Wranglers.
The Coyotes lead the division by 3 points at the time of this write, prior to action on Friday night. Summerland has a game in hand, which will be used up tonight when the ‘Yotes visit the North Okanagan Knights in Armstrong. This means that the most the gap will be by the time the teams take the ice tomorrow night will be 5, less than the ‘Yotes led the division by any time after November 1 last year.
The Steam and the Coyotes have played each other twice this season, and both times the score hasn’t been kind to the Summerland Steam. After a 6-2 defeat in their home opener to the Coyotes, the Steam took a 7-2 defeat in Osoyoos in the middle of October.
In those 2 defeats at the hands of the Coyotes, Summerland did what they’ve done against Osoyoos several times over the past 2+ seasons. They took a lot of penalties, and allowed the ‘Yotes to capitalize on Special Teams. In that September 18th 6-2 Coyotes victory during the Steam’s home opener, the ‘Yotes were allowed to go 4/7 on the PP AND get a shorthanded goal from Bobby Larue to help the cause.
On October 14, the Steam and the ‘Yotes were tied 1-1 after a period. The tide turned in the Coyotes favour in the 2nd period on a rare occasion where a 5 minute powerplay in Summerland’s favour actually worked against them. They couldn’t get anything going on that PP, and that ended up deflating the Steam. The Coyotes were able to walk away with a 7-2 victory after going 2/7 on the PP.
Here’s the money stat: So far this season in 2 meetings, Osoyoos is 6/14 (42.85%) on the powerplay.
The key for Summerland against the Coyotes is always to keep an even keel and get a good start. They do a great job to ‘get up’ for games against the Osoyoos Coyotes, but often times that hype lands them in the penalty box early in the game and allows an always strong ‘Yotes power play to go to work. When you give a team like the ‘Yotes an early power play chance, it’s tough to keep pace in the game if they get the early jump on you, which they like to do.
The Coyotes come into the weekend ranked #2 in both offense (4.13 GF p/g) and defense (2.17 team GAA), while the Steam sit #6 in offense (3.50 GF p/g) and 5th in defense (2.29 team GAA). Both teams score a lot and allow a little, which makes for an interesting contest.
As always, Summerland is going to have to work to contain whatever line Rainer Glimpel plays on. The Calgary, AB native and Captain of the Coyotes has proven to be a Steam killer over his KIJHL career. Glimpel, in his 3rd year with the ‘Yotes, has amassed 24 points (6G + 18A) in just 17 regular season games against Summerland. That doesn’t include exhibition and playoff games.
Glimpel’s linemates are no slouch either, as Bobby Larue (25) and Braeden Tuck (26) have combined for 51 points through 23 GP. As a line, Glimpel, Tuck and Larue have combined for 90 points through the Coyotes first 23 games. For prospective: The rest of the Coyotes’ roster has combined for 158 points.
Containment will be key for the Steam, but they can’t get too focused on containing the Coyotes, because the ‘Yotes have proven it’s hard to do. In my opinion, Summerland’s best bet in Osoyoos on Saturday night will be to match strengths with the ‘Yotes, which is offense and goaltending.
What Summerland can’t do is get into a Special Teams battle with the Coyotes, because their PP is too good to mess around with at an 18.85% conversion rate. Having said that, if Summerland can find the physical line and not cross it, they’ll have some success. The one facet of the game that Summerland greatly exceeds the Coyotes is on the penalty kill. If Summerland can draw a few penalties, they’ll have a chance to score on the KIJHL’s 17th ranked PK, which operates at 82.47%.
One thing you can bank on though is that Summerland won’t deviate from their plan. Every night when we do an interview with Head Coach John Depourcq prior to a home game, we hear him say some variation of “Play our Game”, and that’s what they’ll do. It’s won them 9 in a row, and they’re not going to change it now.
As previously mentioned, Summerland enters on a 9 game winning streak thanks in large part to offense and goaltending. During that time they’ve outscored their opponents 33-10. The top line of Jack Mills, Paulsen Lautard, and newcomer Josh Pilon have led the charge for the Steam (Combined 30 PTS on 9 game streak), while the goaltending has been stellar.
Summerland’s goaltending has helped stabilize their game through the current 9 game winning streak they find themselves on. To date, in the month of November, Jake Mullen and Matt Huber have combined to give the Steam an 8-0 record, allowing just 11 goals on 206 shots to date in the month. For those counting at home that’s a 1.37 team Goals Against Average and a .946 Sv% combined and if you couldn’t tell, that’s GOOD.
There really isn’t much else to say. It’s the Summerland Steam and the Osoyoos Coyotes on a Saturday night in the desert. It comes as advertised. There’ll be some bad blood, as always, there’ll be a lot of back and forth action, and it’s going to be an extremely entertaining night of hockey. Look for the preview with all the numbers tomorrow morning, and I’d definitely recommend getting in on the action either in person or on the webcast with Tom Shields & the crew from Osoyoos.