It’s been a long time coming. After 12 regular season games in a row, the Summerland Steam overcame the Osoyoos Coyotes on Sunday by a score of 3-2. If you were wondering, the last time the Steam beat the Coyotes was February 22nd, 2014 by a score of 8-4. It was so long ago, in fact, that only 2 Steam players remain on the roster from the team that last beat the Coyotes. In that last victory, 687 days ago, neither of the two remaining players were a factor.
Today they were the story.
Both Paulsen Lautard and Calvin Hadley were the only Steam players in that game on February 22, 2014. Neither registered a point in that game, but today they combined for three.
From start to finish, Sunday’s game was what I would consider to be the ‘Game of the Year.’ Both teams came out flying and gave us an entertaining first period. The ‘Yotes would score the only goal of the first period, and take a 1-0 lead to the dressing room.
Carter Robinson would score the only goal of the frame, his 7th of the season, on a wraparound. He beat Steam starting goaltender Matt Huber to the left post and put the home team up 1-0.
The first period was a textbook period. One you want to put on a video loop, because it was that good. Both teams had chances, both teams hit posts, and Robinson’s goal would stand as the only one of the period.
The second period would start much like the first was played. Lots of chances at either end, but the game seemed to get more physical as time went by. Summerland did a pretty good job today of staying out of the penalty box, but did give the ‘Yotes 4 power play opportunities. They cashed in on one of them, and it was the Coyotes captain who got the job done.
Rainer Glimpel managed a power play goal near the mid-mark of the second period that put the ‘Yotes out to a 2-0 lead. Glimpel was left alone at the side of the net and after a puck clamoured off the cross-bar and WAY up in the air, he was able to tuck in the rebound for his 21st of the year.
The goal came after a 5 minute stretch where the ‘Yotes had the Steam pinned in their own zone. The pressure forced Summerland to take the penalty, and the Coyotes cashed in.
It looked like we might be in for another run-away from the Coyotes, as they continued to pressure matters after they went up 2-0. Then, a tip from Jack Mills changed everything.
Against the play, Summerland did some good work in the offensive zone. Keenan Scott did a great job of holding the blue line and tying up his man. Paulsen Lautard came to get the puck, and he had time to move to the middle for a shot. Mills got in the way, and tipped the puck past Brett Soles in the Osoyoos net to cut the lead to 2-1. Mills’ 22nd of the season gave the Steam some life after it looked like they might be ‘dead in the water’ after the 2-0 goal.
Summerland would turn up the heat on the Coyotes from that point on, and Paulsen Lautard would tie the game with :48 remaining on the clock. The Summerland captain would notch his 18th of the season on a partial breakaway after a great power move got him free. He fended off a Coyotes defender and went to the net, beating Brett Soles blocker side to tie the score. The goal was debated for a moment, as Lautard was taken into the net by a Coyotes defender, but would be upheld after a short conversation amongst the officials.
We would go to the third period in a 2-2 tie, and it would stay the same way through the majority of the period. Like the first two periods, there was pace, flow, and chances in the third. Both goaltenders stood tall, until the 5:59 mark of the third period when Summerland took it’s first and only lead of the game.
After good defensive zone coverage and a good pick-off play from Riley Pettitt, Calvin Hadley made his way up the right wing with the puck. He stepped over the blue line and absolutely ripped a shot into the top corner over the blocker of Brett Soles for his 3rd of the season. Michael McEachern would draw an assist as well, and it would stand as the game winner for Summerland.
Summerland was able to snuff out any comeback attempt from the Coyotes by suffocating their offense. They didn’t allow much, and the comeback attempt ended when the Coyotes took the dreaded ‘over the glass’ penalty with just over 3 minutes to play. Ryan Morrell was attempting to clear the puck, and in any other arena in the KIJHl the high glass would have provided an outlet for him to clear the puck. Unfortunately, being in Oliver, the short glass couldn’t save him as he helplessly watched the puck sail off the concrete wall behind the Coyotes bench.
Though Summerland didn’t cash in on the power play, they controlled the play and allowed nothing in the final 3 minutes and change. It allowed them to get outta dodge with 2 points and a big monkey off their back.
In the standings, the game really doesn’t mean a whole lot. The Steam still sit 8 back of the Coyotes, who lead the division with 56 points. It does push them 9 points up on the idle Kelowna Chiefs, and guarantees that come the end of February when the playoffs start, Summerland will be there. They’ve clinched a playoff birth for the 4th year in a row and 4th time in their 5 year history.
They still have some semblance of a chance to catch the ‘Yotes at the top of the division, but a lot’s gotta happen prior to the end of the regular season. The two teams will meet two more times, January 22nd and February 5th, both in Summerland.
This win on January 10, 2016, really means not a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. Unless you were one of those 20 guys wearing black, red and white today. For them, it means everything. Not only does it shed a streak that wasn’t fun to look at, it gives them the confidence in themselves to know that if they can bring their best on any given night they can beat anyone, including the Osoyoos Coyotes. Something like that goes a long way for the human psyche, particularly the psyche of 20 young men between the ages of 16 and 20.
They’ll try to ride the wave into a tilt on Tuesday night with the Princeton Posse. That game goes at 7:30 at the Summerland Arena.