STEAM GEAR UP FOR BATTLE WITH CHIEFS

After having all week to practice after back-to-back losses on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the Summerland Steam are ready to get back to games. Those two losses came to the division leading Osoyoos Coyotes, and they’ll look to put it behind them with a Sunday matinee against the Kelowna Chiefs.

The last time the Steam and the Chiefs came together was December 18th in Rutland, a 2-1 victory for the Steam heading into the Christmas break. By all accounts it was one of the best played games of the year until all hell broke loose after a whistle with just :11 on the clock. Following the whistle, one Kelowna player was taken into the goal crease by a Summerland defender, while another Kelowna player jumped in for good measure. All the action ended up on top of Steam goaltender Jake Mullen, who came up swinging from the bottom of the pile.

Unfortunately, it netted Mullen a 3 game suspension that he’ll sit the final game of on Sunday afternoon before being eligible to return to action on January 8th in Chase. The Steam have missed their 20-year-old goaltender, sure, but Matt Huber played tremendously well in the 2 starts against Osoyoos this past week.

Despite the scores, which were less than desirable, Huber was sound in his positioning and made the majority of his saves look relatively easy. He faced a lot of rubber in those two games against the Coyotes, as his team was put shorthanded 15 times over the course of 6 periods.

He’ll likely get the start on Sunday against the Chiefs, and the Steam will need to do a better job of limiting the opportunities the opposition gets at the net. Kelowna’s power play is equally as good if not better than the Coyotes PP, and Summerland’s penalty kill will have to reset and be ready for that on Sunday.

Summerland and Kelowna have faced one another 5 times so far this season, with Summerland holding a 3-2 edge in the season series. The Steam have handled the Chiefs much better at home than on the road this season, outscoring Kelowna 12-4 at the Summerland Arena. Key to note that Kelowna took the first two games of the season series (October 23rd & 24th) and Summerland has won the last 3 in a row (Nov 6, Nov 20, Dec 18).

Summerland will have to be very cognizant, as always, of the top tier talent that Kelowna boasts. The likes of Jonathan Lee, Josh Baird and the Dale brothers (16 -year-old Brody & 18-year-old Brayden) are having good years to date, and can put up a lot offense in a short period of time for the Chiefs if they aren’t watched closely.

You could be watching a potential playoff preview, as the two teams sit in the middle of the Okanagan Division and are fairly secure in where they’re at. Summerland sits 2nd, now 8 points behind the Osoyoos Coyotes at the time of this write, while Kelowna sits in third, 6 points back of Summerland and 13 points clear of the 4th place North Okanagan Knights. If the playoffs started today, Kelowna would be coming to Summerland for Game #1, while North Okanagan would travel to Osoyoos.

 

Puck drop goes at 2PM at the Summerland Arena. You can pick up tickets at Nesters for $2 off door price. Ultimate Hockey & Skate is our Game Night Sponsor, so make sure to check them out as they’ll have some awesome stuff going on!

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