PILON SCORES, KOSTIW SHUTS OUT BRAVES IN DEBUT

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Summerland goaltender Matt Kostiw (#35) makes a save on a Spokane Braves’ Forward while Scott Robinson (#12) of the Summerland Steam backchecks. Photo: Kyle Sunderman

Sometimes when you make a trade for a player from a different league, you don’t quite know what you’re going to get. You can do your scouting, watch your video, and do your best to learn as much as possible about that player, but you never know what you’re going to get until they arrive.

The Summerland Steam found out what they had in new goaltender Matt Kostiw on Friday night. The 19-year-old from Aurora, ON, recently acquired from the Campbell River Storm made 29 saves to shut out the Spokane Braves in his Steam debut. He showed why he was named a VIJHL All-Star prior to being traded, and was a big reason Summerland was able to pick up a 1-0 win over the Braves.

We talked in the pre-game show (and heard from Head Coach John Depourcq) about a good start. It’s something we hear often from the coaching staff that they want to get off to a good start and set the tone for the game from there. They didn’t get it on Friday night. They put Kostiw in ‘trial by fire’ mode early on, forcing him to make six saves (three high quality ones) in the first six minutes of action. The Spokane Braves came into this game hungry, and looked much better than their record would dictate.

That was something that one my broadcast partners, Mike Swanson, and I talked about in our Trolley Talk Live segment yesterday afternoon.

Spokane is a much better hockey team than their record gives them credit for, and they proved it on Friday night. They came out hungry and used their speed to create some opportunities in the first 10 minutes of the game. Connor McIntosh and Kurtis Redding in particular were very good early on for the Braves, who made sure that Matt Kostiw got his nerves out quickly in the Summerland net. He had to make three high quality stops in the first 8 minutes that kept the Steam in the game while they got their legs underneath them.

After the initial 8 minutes, Summerland looked pretty good. They did a good job to get shots on the net of Spokane starter Patrick Kasper, but were unable to beat him in the first period. Summerland did have four power play chances in the first period, but were unable to capitalize. Spokane also had two power play opportunities, but were also unsuccessful.

The second period results were a little for both teams, but a disallowed goal just 1:09 into the second period kept Spokane from getting out to a 1-0 lead. The goal would have come from Mason Jones on the power play, and it looked like a sure thing save for a little interference run in front of the net on Matt Kostiw. The contact didn’t look like much, but it was ‘enough to keep the Summerland goaltender from making a play on the puck’ according to referee Brad Jones. That’s what he told an incensed Spokane bench, and the score remained tied at 0.

Summerland was then able to get on the board with a goal that would count just 3:41 into the period. Josh Pilon would get the goal, his 2nd with the Summerland Steam and 4th of the season. After the early 5-on-3 with the disallowed goal, the Steam got back to work on the offensive. Raphie Bassot made a great play on the right wing wall to keep the puck in the offensive zone and afford Summerland the opportunity at goal. Lathan McKinney came over to help, and did a great job to wait out his defender before putting a shot on net. Kasper kicked the initial shot away, but did so right into the slot where a waiting Pilon hammered it home to give Summerland a 1-0 lead.

The home team would then have to go back to work on the penalty kill, killing two more penalties right after the goal before not being able to capitalize on 3 more power play opportunities.

Later in the period, with just 6:00 remaining in the second period, the Braves would have another goal disallowed. It came off the stick of Mason Jones, again, but was disallowed the second time due to the net being knocked off behind Matt Kostiw by a sliding Spokane player. There was no argument from either bench on this particular play, and we would head to the 2nd intermission with Summerland leading 1-0.

That score would hold through the third period, although Spokane did their best to try and get one by Matt Kostiw. They put 11 shots on net in the third period, but all were stopped by the Summerland netminder for his first shutout in his first KIJHL start.

A couple things from this game:

  • After a not so great start, Summerland looked pretty good for the final 50 minutes.
  • The only part of their game that hindered their effort on Friday was their discipline. They’re going to have to really work on that with the opponents they’ve got coming up.
  • They went 9/9 on the PK on Friday night, but went 0/7 on the power play. The Summerland power play sits 20th in the league at 9.77% and is mired in an 0/46 run at the moment. That run dates back to a game against Kamloops at home on December 11th.
  • The last time Summerland scored a power play goal was December 6th against Sicamous. That game ended a streak of 7 games where Summerland went 7/30 (22.33%) on the power play. They’ve got to get back to THAT formula to get things working again.
  • Matt Kostiw was Summerland’s best player in Friday night’s game. He did good work to make things look relatively easy in the Summerland crease, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him back in goal Sunday evening when the Steam visit the Kelowna Chiefs.
  • The win over Spokane pushes Summerland to within 4 points of the idle Osoyoos Coyotes at the top of the Okanagan Division. The Coyotes have two games in hand though, and with a win percentage of .757%, you can safely assume that’ll be an 8 point cushion when those two games are made up. They’ll make one of those games up as Summerland sits idle Saturday night and the ‘Yotes host these same Spokane Braves. Summerland will go back to work Sunday night in Kelowna.
  • Kelowna, meanwhile, has gone through a bit of a change since last time we saw them. Nothing major, just a mid-season trade of their captain, Ryan Lawson, that sees the appointment of a new leadership group led by leading scorer Josh Baird. Look for a story on that in an upcoming post later on Saturday. Lawson was traded to the Victoria Cougars of the VIJHL, who will host the Cyclone Taylor Cup Championship in April.

 

As previously mentioned, the Steam will now turn attention to the division rival Kelowna Chiefs. A team that Summerland has had good success against as of late, but the Steam will have to pick their socks up if they want to stick around in a game with the Chiefs. That game goes Sunday night, 7PM at Rutland Arena East in Kelowna.

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