Winners of three in a row after wins over Princeton and Spokane last week, the Summerland Steam were looking to make it four on Sunday. After an off-day Saturday, the 2nd place Steam made the short bus trip to Kelowna to play the 3rd place Chiefs for the 7th time this season. Not only were the Steam looking for their 4th straight win, but they were also after their 5th straight win against the Kelowna Chiefs.

They got it in the form of a 4-2 victory, and pulled themselves 15 points clear of the Chiefs. The Chiefs have one game in hand, but the Steam have put themselves in pretty good position to be hosting one of two Game 1’s in the Okanagan Division Semi-Finals once the regular season ends.

The Steam got off to a good start on Sunday. They did well to keep play in the offensive end and not overwork starting goaltender Matt Kostiw in his 2nd consecutive start for the Steam. Despite outshooting the Chiefs early on, the score remained tied until the midway mark of the period. With 10:20 remaining in the opening stanza, Riley Pettitt potted his 17th of the season on a good cross-ice pass.

The play started with a good keep at the line from Lathan McKinney. I’m not sure how many times that particular line has come up in this blog over the course of the season, but the short answer is: A LOT. McKinney did a good job to hold the line at the right point, and fired the puck back behind the Kelowna net tended by Josh Tetlichi. Summerland’s Braden Eliuk was the first on the puck, and he did a good job to get the puck back to the point for Adam Jones. Jones had a very quick look at the net before finding Pettitt at the left post, where he was able to put a one timer behind Tetlichi to put Summerland up 1-0.

The score would stay that way into the second period, but it wouldn’t take long for the Chiefs to get even. Josh Johnston would be the one to get the goal, scoring with a shot from the right wing off a rebound to tie things up at 1. Jonathan Lee and Joel Scrimbit would draw assists on the newly minted assistant captain’s 4th of the season. The goal may have been tipped off a Summerland stick on the way to the net, as it looked as though goaltender Matt Kostiw was in position to make the save.

After the goal that tied the game, Summerland found themselves in some penalty trouble. They took 5 straight penalties, 2 of them double minors, and found mixed results on the PK. They killed most of the 5 penalties, but Kelowna was able to get on the board thanks to a Jonathan Lee goal. Lee notched his 13th of the year from the exact same spot Pettitt scored from in the first period. Kelowna did great work to move the puck around the zone before Josh Kobelka made a cross-crease pass to Lee who banged it home. New Chiefs captain Josh Baird would draw the second assist on the goal after doing good work to spot Kobelka.

The lead would last just 1:57 for the Chiefs, as on the same PP they scored on (a double minor), Adam Jones would steal the puck and make a dash to the Kelowna net. Shorthanded, Jones put some pressure on the Chiefs defense and was able to come away with the puck. Down the left wing, Jones was 1-on-1 with Tetlichi in the Chiefs net, and made no mistake going five-hole with a pretty move for his 3rd of the year.

The Jones goal tied the game at 2, and also ended the string of penalties for the Steam. The tie would last late into the third period, but Braden Eliuk wasn’t going to let this thing get to OT. With 2:11 left, the 18-year-old Kelowna native, playing in his hometown, put the Steam ahead 3-2. A mad dash down the right wing wouldn’t work out for the Steam, but Eliuk did well to hold onto the puck and find a pass. He skated all the way around the back of the net before dropping the puck off for Riley Pettitt in the corner.

Pettitt would wait for pressure to come before giving the puck back to Eliuk. His initial shot was stopped by Tetlichi, but he couldn’t corral the rebound and Pettitt poked it loose to the crease. There, Eliuk cleaned up the leftovers for his 7th of the year. It would prove to be the winner, with Jack Mills potting his 23rd of the season into an empty net with :42 remaining.

Matt Kostiw was good again for the Summerland Steam in his 2nd consecutive start. He’s now 2-0 with a GAA of 1.00 and a .962% Save percentage in his 2 starts with the Steam. I wouldn’t guess who the coaching staff will go with in net when the Steam host the Osoyoos Coyotes on Friday night, but Kostiw has proven in his first two starts that they have two good options in he and Matt Huber. Huber has been solid all season long in playing with now his third “full time” goalie partner.

The Steam will go back to work on Friday, January 22nd when the Osoyoos Coyotes come to town. It’ll be the 7th meeting of the season between the two teams, and the first of two games for the Steam on home ice this coming weekend. They’ll play the Chase Heat on Sunday afternoon at 2PM at the Summerland Arena, and will have discounted tickets available.

If you’re planning to come to the game Friday night and watch the Steam and the Coyotes battle it out, plan to come Sunday afternoon as well! If you come to the door on Sunday with a ticket purchased for the game on Friday night at the Summerland Arena, you’re going to get your Sunday game ticket for just $5! You can’t beat that!




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