After probably their best game of the season on Sunday afternoon in Oliver against the Osoyoos Coyotes, the Summerland Steam played one of the worst of the year on Tuesday night against the Princeton Posse. They came away with a 4-1 victory, and outshot the 5th place Posse 37-10 in the game, but if I’m perfectly honest neither team looked very good.
From the outset, you could see the teams were just a little off. The first period yielded no results on the scoreboard, but Summerland outshot the Posse 12-3 and hit 3 posts behind Princeton goaltender Chandler Billinghurst. Despite the positive possession and shot numbers for Summerland, they didn’t look great doing it. Passes were going incomplete, clearing attempts were blocked or intercepted, and things just didn’t look comfortable.
They looked a little better in the second, and were rewarded with a goal just 5:45 into the period. It came courtesy of a couple of things. First of all, a misstep from the Princeton goaltender, but secondly some great work from Wyatt Gale to be pretty disruptive in front of the net. He was able to take the puck off Posse goaltender Chandler Billinghurst and put it towards goal. It was blocked on the initial attempt, but Steam forward Riley Pettitt was able to clean up the junk in front of the net for his 16th of the year.
The goal put the home team on the board, and they wouldn’t look back from there. They’d continue to pepper the Posse net with shots, putting up a 25-7 margin at the end of the second period. Prior to the end of the period though, some good work down low afforded Steam captain Paulsen Lautard a chance to bury his 19th goal of the season. Braden Eliuk and Scott Robinson would draw assists on the tally after some good work below the goal line in the offensive zone. The puck would pop loose at the side of the net to a waiting Paulsen Lautard, who made no mistake in going over the glove of Billinghurst.
The goal came with just over 2 minutes remaining in the second period, and Summerland would add to their lead early in the third. At the 4:32 mark of the third period, the Steam would extend their lead to 3-0 courtesy of Michael McEachern’s 5th of the season. After an offensive zone draw won by Jack Mills, Keenan Scott had a shot towards the Princeton goal. It was originally knocked down by a Posse defender, but McEachern found it and batted it out of mid-air and over Billinghurst to extend the lead to 3-0.
After the McEachern goal, things began to get interesting. The final 13 minutes even got a little bit ugly on Tuesday night. It started when Cody Egilson was ejected from the game for hitting Craig Thompson from behind. Referee Ward Pateman sent him to an early shower, deservedly so, and put the Posse on the power play.
Their first and only goal of the night would come on what would be recorded as their final shot of the hockey game with 12:08 remaining in the third period. On the power play, Princeton was able to send a puck to the net, where Kirt Fortney banged a rebound past Steam goaltender Matt Huber. The goal came after a ‘good keep’ at the line from Matthew Monk, who would draw an assist on the play. Tristyn Olsen would also draw an assist, as he got a stick on the puck in front before Fortney cleaned up the mess. Fortney’s 3rd of the season would be the only one of 10 shots to beat Huber on the night, as he picked up his 13th win of the season.
With the score 3-1, Summerland was looking to continue to pressure and not let Princeton back in the game. They played the final 10 minutes of the game without forward Jack Mills, who hit the showers early after getting in a spirited scrap with former teammate Matthew Monk. The two exchanged punches at the 10:02 mark of the third period, just early enough to avoid being suspended for their team’s next game. It was a good tilt that went back and forth, with Mills ultimately getting the takedown and taking the decision.
Once all the paraphernalia were recovered from ice level, Summerland went back to work in the offensive zone. The final ten minutes seemed to be all about trying to set up rookie forward Andrew York for his first KIJHL goal. Unfortunately he couldn’t bury one, but he had at LEAST 5 chances to do so over the course of the night. York, who just turned 16 on November 28th, 2015, played arguably his best game of the season on Tuesday night. He’s still looking for that ever-elusive first goal though, and if he keeps playing the way he did on Tuesday it won’t be long before it comes.
The only other goal to be scored on the night was also a first, and in more ways than one. The goal was scored by Scott Robinson, his first as a member of the Summerland Steam with :50 remaining in the game. The goal was on an empty net, but it was how it got there that was called into question. Robinson appeared to knock a puck down with his hand coming through the neutral zone. As he stepped over the offensive blue line he knocked it down with his glove, and was taken down by a Princeton defender. Unimpeded, the puck slid the length of the zone into the gaping net. The Princeton bench was hot about it, up in the broadcast booth we were surprised, but the goal counted nonetheless to give Summerland a 4-1 victory.
Just when we thought it would end without incident, the Princeton bench was assessed a bench minor with :24 on the clock. Head Coach / GM Geoff Goodman was the culprit, putting his team on the PK for the remainder of the game. He wasn’t finished there, though, and was unceremoniously tossed from the game by referee Ward Pateman.
To be fair: Both benches were unhappy with Pateman nearly all night long. For the first half of the game he literally called nothing, and once the first penalty was called all of those ones that went uncalled in the first half of the game were being called later on. Consistency is something that coaches ask from their teams every night, and I don’t think it’s unfair of them to ask that of officials as well. Theoretically all officials attend the same clinics during their training, and they read from the same rulebook, so there should be some form of consistency from game to game. Lately there hasn’t been. Goodman had a gripe, a justified one, and it’s something that we see all too often in the KIJHL. I don’t think anything he did or said warranted him getting ejected, but alas, that’s how the game ended.
With the win on Tuesday, Summerland’s now on a mini streak. They’ve won 2 straight, and have points in every game (4) of 2016 thus far. They’ll look to keep building on that number on Friday when the Spokane Braves come to town for their one and only visit of the season. Puck drop goes at 7:30,and Mike, Joel and I will go live with a 15 minute pre-game show at 7:15.