After a bad start to the week for the Summerland Steam, they finished the weekend on a high note on Sunday. The Steam, after falling twice to the Osoyoos Coyotes mid-week, got out ahead of their opponent and controlled right from the start.
That opponent was the Kelowna Chiefs, who came in off a 6-3 victory over the Princeton Posse on Saturday night. They didn’t fare as well as they would have hoped, allowing a goal just 2:52 into the hockey game.
That goal came off the stick of Josh Pilon, his first as a member of the Summerland Steam. As Kelowna was attempting to change on a dump in, a good ‘quick up’ from Summerland’s defense sent the puck to a loose area where Cole Williams could skate onto it. He was checked immediately by a Kelowna back-checker, but that freed the puck up for Andrew York. The Steam’s youngest forward found Pilon streaking in, fed him the puck, and Pilon made no mistake beating Chiefs starting goaltender Josh Tetlichi.
There was some controversy on the goal, as it looked as though Summerland’s Cole Williams may have interfered with the Kelowna goaltender, but referee Kevin Crowell stood by his original call. The Kelowna bench wasn’t happy, but it didn’t take long for the Chiefs to respond.
Just 3:04 after the Summerland goal, Kelowna would get even on the power play. The Chiefs’ power play went 4-11 (37%) on Saturday night against Princeton, and they wasted no time going to work on their first of the afternoon on Sunday. Jonathan Lee would get the goal, his 12th, assisted by Ryan Lawson and Luke Kalenuik. It took Kelowna just :14 of their power play to capitalize, as some good goal-line work from Lawson and Kalenuik sent the puck into the slot. Lee retrieved, spun and fired to beat Steam starter Matt Huber and tie things up at 1.
That would be as close as the Chiefs would get, however, as Summerland would take the lead for good at 10:44 of the first period thanks to a goal from Riley Pettitt. The play started with an impressive dash into the offensive zone from Summerland D-man Adam Jones. He got the puck into the corner, where the line of Pettitt, Wyatt Gale and Braden Eliuk went to work. Eliuk started the scoring play by trying to get the puck to the front of the net. Gale helped it there, before it popped into the slot for Pettitt. Pettitt’s first shot was blocked, but he turned with a backhand and beat Josh Tetlichi for his 14th of the season.
That goal gave Summerland a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, and Steam leading scorer Jack Mills would add to the lead with 3:29 left in the first frame. Mills’ 20th goal of the season gave Summerland a 3-1 lead heading to the break.
In the second period Summerland carried the pressure again, but Kelowna would get a chance on the power play that they made no mistake on. Again early in the power play, just :13 seconds in, Josh Kobelka collected his 8th of the season on a play at the side of the net. Off a won draw in the Summerland zone, Kobelka was looking to make a pass from the right post to the slot. Instead, the puck nicked off a Steam defender and jumped behind Huber to cut the lead to 3-2.
Summerland’s top line wouldn’t let that last long though, as they took advantage of an odd man rush just a few minutes later. Just over the halfway mark of the period, a little history was made as Paulsen Lautard scored on a 2-on-1 with Jack Mills. Mills did a good job to get in down the left wing thanks to a pass from Keenan Scott. He faked the shot and slid the puck around the Kelowna defenseman, where Lautard lifted it over Josh Tetlichi.
The goal gave Summerland a 4-2 lead, but more importantly it got Lautard ‘off the schneid,’ as he’d been a bit snake bitten of late. He hadn’t found the back of the net since December 5th, save for a disallowed goal on December 18th against the Chiefs in Rutland.
The goal, Lautard’s 16th of the season, also bagged him the franchise record for regular season goals with 58. It was a record previously held by Dylan Burton (2011-14), a former teammate of Lautard’s during the 2013/14 KIJHL Season. The franchise record for regular season goals is well deserved in the case of Paulsen Lautard, a consummate leader and veteran of 152 KIJHL games.
The goal put Summerland up 4-2, as mentioned, and they didn’t look back. They continued to pressure the Chiefs, and Lautard would add his 2nd of the night and 17th of the season late to push the score to the final of 5-2. Jack Mills would pick up an assist on the goal, as would Adam Jones. Mills and Lautard posted their third point each on the night on the tally with 6:52 to go, and Summerland would cruise to a win only allowing 15 shots on net.
For Mills, the three points brings his total to 44 for the season, pushing him to 9th in the KIJHL scoring race. For Lautard, his total goes to 34 in as many games played, and it looks like Summerland’s top line is firing on all cylinders heading into next weekend.
The win for Summerland pushes them 6 points clear of the Chiefs with a game in hand. It also drops the gap to 7 between the Steam and the division leading Osoyoos Coyotes. Summerland will head to Chase on Friday night to play the Heat before clashing with the Coyotes again on Sunday, January 10th in Oliver.