The Kamloops Storm may have only started with 13 skaters on Friday night, but they sure didn’t play like it. Both they and the Summerland Steam showed up ready to play, and went at each other at break-neck speed from the very get go. It was fast, physical, and a very cleanly played first period that led to the break with Kamloops leading 11-9 on the shot clock.

It didn’t yield any scoring, there was only one minor penalty doled out, and only required six whistles and 24 minutes to play. Both Summerland goaltender Jake Mullen and Storm ‘tender Spencer Eschyschyn were solid in the period, making all the saves necessary to head to the second period in a 0-0 tie.

The second period was much of the same. Summerland came out with a purpose and got out to an 8-2 advantage on the shot clock in the period before they got into a little penalty trouble. There were 5 in total called in the period, 4 on Summerland that led to Kamloops evening up the shot clock at 8-8. The shot that tied the shot clock untied the game, and came courtesy of Wilson Northey.

After a penalty kill had just ended, Summerland looked like they were going to get right back on the offensive, but a failed clear gave the Storm the chance they needed. Storm AP Forward Carl Main was able to pick up the puck off the botched zone exit and get the puck to Northey, who buried his 7th of the season low blocker on Jake Mullen.

Hockey can sometimes be a game of mistakes. Summerland made the first one, and Northey made a heck of a shot off the far post to beat Mullen and put the Storm up 1-0.

Just after Kamloops took the lead though, a good shift after a goal knotted the score at 1 thanks to Summerland’s top line of Paulsen Lautard, Braden Eliuk, and Jack Mills. They got in on the forecheck immediately after getting down 1-0, and forced the Kamloops D to make a mistake of their own. Paulsen Lautard was able to pick a puck out of the corner and feed D-man Keenan Scott the puck at the left point. Scott had a quick walk in off the line before spotting Mills cross ice. He made no mistake on the pass, netting his 18th of the season and 40th point to extend his point streak to 10 games.

The goal came just :22 after Kamloops opened the scoring, and we’d go to the 2nd intermission in a 1-1 tie. For how much time Summerland spent on the penalty kill in the 2nd period I think they were lucky to get out tied at 1, and they knew it.

In the third period they came out with a purpose, and put 3 Grade-A scoring chances at the net in the first 4 minutes of the frame. It was all for not, however, as they then gave up the lead thanks to a rocket of a shot from Storm leading scorer Zackari Andrusiak. Just prior to the halfway point of the third period, the Summerland defense got caught on one of those ‘in-between’ plays, and elected to go for the pinch and missed. This created a 2-on-1 the other way for Kole Comin and Andrusiak, and they made the most of their opportunity.

Comin carried the puck into the zone before passing off to Andrusiak, and the former WHLer and BCHLer beat Jake Mullen high over the glove with a drag&shoot motion that’s the fastest I’ve ever seen at this level. Andrusiak’s 15th of the season (and 26th pt in 15 GP) gave the Storm the lead, but again Summerland answered right back.

Just 1:55 later some good work from the line of Calvin Hadley, Cody Egilson and Riley Pettitt led to a game tying goal. After a tenacious forecheck in the corner and along the end boards, the puck popped loose to Pettitt on the half-wall. He was able to find Brogan Lautard at the right point, and the younger Lautard made a great shot at the net. It hit a body in front (I still believe it might have been Calvin Hadley) and went up into the top corner to tie the game at 2. Pettitt picked up the primary assist on the goal, extending his point streak to 16 games. Cody Egilson would draw the 2nd assist to close out the regulation time scoring at 2-2 and force overtime.

In overtime the whistles went away. As always (and I don’t know why) anything that was a penalty with 4 minutes remaining in the first period was all of a sudden not with 4 minutes to go in OT.

Both teams put the clutch & grab mentality firmly in place while Mr. Kennedy planted his whistle firmly in his pocket. Finally, with 4:12 remaining in 3-on-3 OT (OT#2), the whistle was whipped out of the pocket to call a suspect hooking penalty on Steam forward Riley Pettitt. I say suspect because it was really more of a hold or interference, which had been completely let go for the final 5 minutes of regulation and the first full OT period. But 2 minutes is 2 minutes and Kamloops went to the 4-on-3 PP in OT.

Nothing but an elevated heart rate came with that Kamloops PP in OT, but it set up for some Kamloops pressure that was eventually stopped with a sparkling glove save from Jake Mullen in the Summerland net. After 2 chances for Summerland that followed the Mullen glove save, the Steam got caught up ice and Zackari Andrusiak made a great pass to Wilson Northey to put him in alone on Mullen. Mullen made the initial save as Northey attempted to go five-hole, but somehow the puck climbed through him. As Northey was bulldozed into the net by a Summerland defender after digging at Mullen’s pads, the puck crawled into the net. From our vantage point it looked as though the net was off before the puck went in, but, that’s why we don’t wear stripes.

A great game was mired by controversial ending, unfortunately, and Kamloops picked up the 2 full points to take 1st place in the Doug Birks Division back from the 100 Mile House Wranglers not half an hour after they took it over.

With the loser point they picked up in OT, Summerland picks up a point on the Coyotes, who lost in Castlegar by a 4-3 score. Kelowna lost in Revelstoke by the same score, but they also picked up a point by taking the game to OT.  The Steam sit with 39 points, 6 points clear of the 3rd place Kelowna Chiefs and just 4 points back of the Osoyoos Coyotes. They’ll play the Chiefs in Kelowna on December 18th right before the Holiday break, and follow up the layoff with a home and home on Tues & Wed, Dec 29 & 30 with the first place Osoyoos Coyotes.

Before that clash with the Coyotes after the holidays, Summerland will play 3 games leading into the break. They’ll play Sunday in Sicamous vs the Eagles, Wednesday at NOON  in Princeton against the Posse, and then Friday night December 18th in Rutland against the Kelowna Chiefs. All of those games will be played on the road and can be watched on!

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