It’s actually taken me a couple of days to put together the results from Saturday nights monumental clash between the Summerland Steam and the Osoyoos Coyotes. The game was THAT good. It was everything you’d expect from both teams, and everything you’d hope that KIJHL hockey would offer you when you pay your $10 to get into the building. I had a chance to speak with Coyotes’ PA Announcer and Ez Rock Osoyoos’ Brock Jackson prior to puck drop, and both of us could agree we were in for something special. That feeling was in the air, and the two teams didn’t disappoint.
The result was a 5-2 victory for the hometown Osoyoos Coyotes after getting 2 empty net goals in the closing minutes with Summerland scrambling for the tie. With the end result out of mind, I couldn’t believe what I was watching. It was fast, it was hard, it was skilled and it was mentally draining, no matter what side of the puck you were on. There was no shortage of bad blood, but also no excess of it, which is exactly what you want to see. Both teams played whistle to whistle and didn’t engage too much in between, which is another thing we usually see a lot of between these two teams.
Summerland went into the Sun Bowl hoping to come out with just a 3 point differential between them and the 1st place Coyotes. Instead the point spread was 7, and Summerland was left wondering what more they had to do against a Coyotes team that has given them fits over the past few years.
The Steam had some nerves early, no doubt. You could see it in their defensive breakout and their forecheck, which was a little tentative. It took them a few minutes to get it together, and it looked like they were going to get out of the rough patch unscathed until there was just 6:43 remaining in the period. After a blocked shot attempt from the Coyotes blue line, Braeden Tuck found the loose puck and sent it off the boards to ‘Yotes captain Rainer Glimpel. Glimpel then skated up ice and found a streaking Bobby Larue, who was in all alone and made a good move to beat Steam goaltender Jake Mullen. Larue’s 14th of the season gave the home team a 1-0 lead that they’d take to the locker room after a fast paced first frame.
To start the second, the Coyotes were gifted a power play by referee Jeremy Silzer after Keenan Scott was whistled for holding Bobby Larue. Larue, on a partial breakaway, was checked by Scott before going head long into Jake Mullen and the Steam net. It looked as though Scott did a good job to avoid contact with Larue and make sure to get puck first, as you’re taught to do. Stripes didn’t see it that way, and assessed Scott a holding penalty.
Scott would go off, Mullen and Larue would both shake it off, and the ‘Yotes went to the PP. It didn’t take long, either, as a faceoff win led to a good set-up for the league’s 7th ranked power play.
Coyotes’ captain Rainer Glimpel wouldn’t waste any time, as he’d collect his 10th point of the season against Summerland in his 3rd game of the season series. The point was a goal to put the Coyotes up 2-0, as he beat Mullen with a shot from the top of the left circle on the power play to extend the lead.
The goal seemed to wake Summerland up a bit, as for the next 5 minutes they looked a little better than they had in the 1st period, and in the 10 minutes after that they worked the Coyotes over pretty well. Unfortunately that didn’t compute to any traction on the scoreboard, and just when it looked like the Steam would go to the third trailing by 2 they caught break.
After the ‘Yotes were gifted a power play early, the Steam were gifted one of their own late, and their top line made no mistake. While on the power play Summerland attempted to move the puck to the middle of the ice. When that wasn’t goin to work against the Coyote PK, they looked to use the cycle. That was beneficial as it started to generate some shots at Coyotes’ starter Brett Soles. The line of Jack Mills, Paulsen Lautard and Josh Pilon had some chances, and it was Mills’ 16th of the season that pulled Summerland within 1. After being taken down by a high hit to the right of Soles, Mills got up and went to the front of the net. The pass to him missed on the first attempt, but a second attempt from Paulsen Lautard to get Mills the puck resulted in a goal for the Steam.
With 1:05 to play in the 2nd period all of a sudden Summerland was down just 1 and had some more jump. It looked like they’d go to the break down 1, but the Yukon Line had other ideas. After a GREAT save on a Braeden Tuck partial breakaway by Jake Mullen, the Steam won a faceoff and promptly iced the puck.
On the ensuing faceoff, won by Riley Pettitt, Jarrett Malchow sent an alley-oop up out of the Summerland zone. Wyatt Gale was able to skate onto it, and found himself on a 2-on-1 with Pettitt. Without an open shot, Gale went far side pad looking for the rebound. It popped right to Pettitt, who deposited the puck into the open cage for his 9th of the season, and ensuring his point streak reached 12.
More importantly, Pettitt’s goal tied the game up at 2 heading to the third period and gave the Steam some momentum heading to the third. To start the third, Summerland came out firing, but couldn’t beat Brett Soles. They had 4 or 5 grade A scoring chances early in the period, but couldn’t bury one.
Of course, as the hockey gods always ensure, it came back to bite them. On what looked like a nothing play with 6:00 and change left in the period, ‘Yotes D man Colton Rhodes jumped up in the play and took a pass from Judd Repole. Rhodes went wide on Steam defenseman Matthew Monk, and was able to change the angle last minute just enough to let a shot go and fool goaltender Jake Mullen. Rhodes’ 2nd of the season proved to be the game winner, giving the Coyotes a 3-2 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
Again, Summerland had their chances. They had 3 of them that come to mind right away, but the Coyotes were able to hold them off and pick up the victory. They’d add 2 empty netters courtesy of Colin Bell and Reid Wilson in the final 1:25 to extend the score to 5-2 and put the game out of Summerland’s reach.
With the Coyotes’ victory they stay undefeated on home ice and also end Summerland’s 9 game winning streak. The two teams will meet again at the end of December, with a mid-week home & home on back to back nights Tuesday, December 28 and Wednesday, December 29. If I can suggest anything, it’s DON’T miss either of those 2 games. Whether you’re in the building or you join us on the webcasts, you won’t be disappointed.
Summerland will regroup and look to start another streak Tuesday night when the North Okanagan Knights come to town for the 2nd consecutive week. Tickets for that game are just $5 and puck drop goes at 7:30PM at the Summerland Arena.