In a rare case that saw a KIJHL game start at Noon on a Wednesday afternoon, the Summerland Steam headed over for a visit with the Princeton Posse. The reason for the early start? It was Princeton’s annual ‘school game’, and they didn’t disappoint the 250 fans in attendance.
In all but one facet of the game, the Summerland Steam dominated on Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately, Princeton won the goaltending battle and capitalized on the few opportunities they had in a 4-0 win.
Summerland started a little slowly, but picked it up as the game went on. Unfortunately, a bit of a sluggish start cost them the game, as just over halfway through the first period they took a penalty and allowed the Posse to capitalize.
Posse rookie Josh Dickson was able to pot his 6th of the season on the power play, thanks to a great pass from Keith Comte. Off a won draw, Comte was looking to take the puck behind the Summerland net of starter Matt Huber. Instead of going all the way around the net, Comte spotted an open Dickson out front, and he beat a surprised Huber to give the home team a 1-0 lead.
That goal would be all they’d need thanks to an outstanding performance from Stephen Heslop, but they didn’t stop there. A few minutes later Comte added a goal of his own, his 7th of the season. This gave the Posse a 2-0 lead headed to the break in a period they were outshot 13-8.
Summerland came out with much of the same effort in the second period, but still yielded no results thanks to Stephen Heslop in the Princeton net. The Steam dominated play for long stretches, but Princeton was able to extend their lead against the run of play thanks to Morton Johnston near the midpoint of the second period.
Johnston’s 6th of the season, on a puck out of a scramble in front of the net, extended the lead to 3-0 and spelled the end of the afternoon for Matt Huber. Jake Mullen came on in relief of Huber and only faced 6 shots in just over 30 minutes of play. THAT was how one-sided this game was, and should tell you how strong Stephen Heslop had to be for Princeton.
Just prior to the end of the second period, Summerland had the pressure to make a dent, but were unable to do so. After trying for several minutes to get on the board, the horn sounded and we went to the third period with Princeton holding a 3-0 lead. At the tail end of the second period, Steam forward Riley Pettitt took a strange hit in the corner. He played the remainder of the second period but did not return for the third, and his 17 game point streak came to an unfortunate halt.
In the third there was just one goal, a great solo effort from Keith Comte for his 8th of the season. He was able to skate up the right wing with the puck, made a nice move to get into the slot, and beat Jake Mullen five-hole to round out the scoring at 4-0. The rest was up to Stephen Heslop, as he turned away 18 third period shots for his first shutout of the season.
Summerland was in tough from the get-go in this game. Without forwards Jarrett Malchow and Jack Mills, the depth suffered a little bit and forced Head Coach John Depourcq to use guys in situations he might not otherwise. Mills, Malchow, and eventually Pettitt, were all unavailable to kill penalties for the Steam, which made a difference. Not big enough to win them the hockey game, but you could tell it just put the Steam lineup just a tad bit off.
They’ll look to get back on track on Friday with a visit to Rutland to play the Kelowna Chiefs. It’s the Steam’s final game before the holiday break, which is immediately followed by a home and home with the Osoyoos Coyotes on December 29 & 30.