After an early mid-week game against the North Okanagan Knights, the Summerland Steam had a chance this weekend to start another streak. After having a 9 game win streak snapped last Saturday night vs the Osoyoos Coyotes, it was time to string some more wins together. It started Tuesday with a 4-0 win over the Knights, and continued through this weekend with a 4-1 win over Princeton, and a 5-1 victory on home ice over the Sicamous Eagles.
In Princeton on Saturday night, Riley Pettitt was the story as he collected 2 goals and an assist in the victory, extending his point streak to 15 games. Paulsen Lautard and Braden Eliuk would also score in the game, while Calvin Hadley chipped in with 2 assists. Lautard’s goal, Summerland’s first of the night, ties the Steam’s captain for the franchise lead in goals with 57.
Matt Huber collected the win in net, making 23 saves on 24 shots. The only shot to beat him came off the stick of Bailey Shaver in the middle of the second period. Huber made a couple of saves in the middle of the game, with the score 2-1, that were important in the victory.
On Sunday Summerland looked to continue their winning ways, and got a good start against the Sicamous Eagles. The Steam pasted Eagles’ goaltender Patrick Kasper with 7 shots in the first 4 minutes of the hockey game, but weren’t able to beat him until around 8 minutes into the game.
Summerland’s first goal of the afternoon came courtesy a turnover behind the Sicamous goal line. Jack Mills forced the turnover, Paulsen Lautard found Braden Eliuk all alone in front of the net, and Eliuk had no problem going ‘against the grain’ into the top corner over Kasper’s glove for his 5th of the season.
After the opening goal, Sicamous had a little push back. They managed to close the gap on the shot clock, but couldn’t even the score thanks to Steam goaltender Jacob Mullen. Mullen, after giving way to his partner Matt Huber for the past 2 games, had no rust about him. He looked good from minute 1 and though he wasn’t crazy busy, he was good when he was called upon.
After a short push from the Eagles, the Steam would strike quick for two more before the end of the period. The two quick ones would come courtesy of Wyatt Gale and Braden Eliuk just 1:25 apart. First was Gale’s 6th of the season, assisted by Cole Williams and Keenan Scott. After Scott made a good play to get the puck to Williams, Williams found Gale in the middle of the ice where he was able to put the puck through Patrick Kasper.
Eliuk would then chip in with his 6th of the season, and 2nd of the night, after another giveaway from the Eagles. Mills again forced the turnover, collecting his 2nd assist of the night, and Keenan Scott had a shot at the net. The shot was blocked 5 feet in front of Kasper in the Eagles’ net, but Eliuk was right there to take the bounce and hammer the puck home to give Summerland a 3-0 lead.
To start the second period, Summerland would build on their lead. Riley Pettitt, he of the 15 game point streak coming in, would extend to 16 straight games with a power play assist. On a 5-on-3, the Steam attempted to find Braden Eliuk for the hat-trick two or three times before they finally tried something different. The something different was Adam Jones, who took a pass from Pettitt and deposited the puck up high into the net above a sprawling Kasper for his 2nd of the season.
With the lead 4-0, it looked like Summerland could put it on cruise control. Sicamous would get on the board with 7:29 left to go, as Tyler Collens made a great shot to beat Jake Mullen on the power play. Alex Astasiewicz made a great pass to hit Will Muzuik through the neutral zone, who took a hit to free up Collens. He got Collens the puck, and Collens made no mistake going high over the glove of Mullen for his 4th of the season.
The goal gave the Eagles some life, but the three goal deficit was as close as they would come. Summerland would have a couple of good bounce back shifts directly after the goal, and Cole Williams would record his 10th of the year to cap off the scoring late in the 2nd period. Williams was able to shake loose in the middle of the ice and take a pass from Josh Pilon. Williams would then make a sharp wrister count, beating Kasper low to the blocker side and effectively ending the Sicamous goaltender’s night. Kolby Pauwels would come on for the Eagles in relief, and would play to a clean sheet in the latter minutes of the second and through the third.
The third period would produce no scoring and Summerland would cruise to a 5-1 victory. On the night, Summerland was very good defensively. It seems as though everybody’s ‘buying in’ to Coach Depourcq’s system and it’s making things easier for the entire team. The recent play of some of Summerland’s defenseman is encouraging, as well.
The likes of Lathan McKinney and Keenan Scott come to mind. McKinney, while undersized, plays a big game and a big part of Summerland’s defense corps. The 19-year-old from Kelowna, BC, is in his 2nd year with the Steam, and has become a very valuable member of Coach Depourcq’s defense. He doesn’t put up too many points offensively, but he’s a very valuable defender and thinks the game better than most. He’s also not afraid of a big hit, whether it’s making it or taking it, he’ll do so to make the play that needs to be made.
Another underrated part of Summerland’s defense is rookie Keenan Scott. Scott, 17, hails from Red Deer, AB, and is settling in well with the Steam in 2015.16. As he gains more and more KIJHL experience, the coaching staff seem to be using him in more and more situations both on the power play and killing penalties.
The two of them, along with Alex Williams, Adam Jones, Brogan Lautard and Michael McEachern make up a group of defenseman that can give you a little bit of everything on any given night. They can all defend, but they can also add a little flare in the offensive zone when the opportunity arises as well. It’ll be interesting to see how things go from here on out as we get into the back half of the season.
For the weekend, Summerland got offense from all over the lineup. Braden Eliuk had 4 points (3G+1A), Riley Pettitt had 4 points (2G+2A) , and Jack Mills had 4 points (0G+4A). Cole Williams, Paulsen Lautard, and Wyatt Gale all chipped in with a goal and an assist each, and the forecheck was great through all 4 lines to pick up 2 wins.
Summerland will now get back to practice as they prepare for a stiff test against the Kamloops Storm on Friday. I would expect Jacob Mullen to get the start against his former team, but both options at the disposal of Head Coach John Depourcq are good ones. Summerland’s goaltenders sit 1/2 in the league in GAA, with Mullen carrying a 1.74 GAA and Matt Huber carrying a 1.81 GAA into play this weekend.
That game against Kamloops is presented by Nesters Market, who will be our game night sponsor for Friday night when the Storm visit the Steam at 7:30.