With back-to-back losses on January 22nd and 24th in the rear view mirror, the Summerland Steam picked up a couple of big wins this past weekend. Both came to the tune of a 6-2 score, and both in convincing fashion against two pretty good hockey teams.
On Friday night they climbed off the bus at home with a 6-2 victory thanks to 4 points (1g+3a) from Josh Pilon and 3 points (2g+1a) from Braden Eliuk, among other things. Jarrett Malchow returned to the Steam lineup on Friday in Revelstoke after missing 16 games due to injury, and scored in the Steam victory.
The visitors went 1-for-1 on the power play in Revelstoke on Friday, and rode the momentum into Kelowna on Sunday night. In that game they came away with a win by the same score over the Kelowna Chiefs, 6-2. In a game that was billed correctly as a ‘playoff preview’, the Steam controlled from start to finish and did a great job to force mistakes by the Chiefs. Forcing mistakes and controlling possession are two things Summerland is very good at, and on Sunday night they managed to get under the Chiefs’ skin pretty quickly.
Riley Pettitt got the scoring started for the Steam on Sunday night, notching his 18th of the season on a pretty three-way neutral zone passing play that sent him in alone. The play started from the left Steam goaltender Matt Huber, and was moved by AP defenseman Matt Alcorn to the right wing boards to Jarrett Malchow. Malchow proceeded to send a 60 foot pass through the neutral zone to Jack Mills, who one-touched it through to Pettitt. Pettitt found himself 1-on-1 with Chiefs’ netminder Cody Murray, and beat him with a backhand-forehand move over the blocker to give the Steam a 1-0 lead.
The Chiefs would tie the game in the final minute of the first period after a Steam d-zone turnover allowed a glorious opportunity for Kelowna. Jackson Siemens made no mistake, burying his first KIJHL goal to even the score at the end of the first.
Summerland would take control in the second, but not before they found themselves down a goal. That goal came courtesy of Dakota Kittle, his 5th of the year, as he found a rebound in front of Matt Huber and deposited it into a yawning cage to give the Chiefs a 2-1 lead.
The Chiefs’ lead would last about 6 minutes, but at that point Summerland’s power play (yes, you read that correctly) took over the game. Josh Pilon would collect his 6th on a power play near the mid-mark of the period as he went to the net and dug up some trash. By trash I mean the puck, as Wyatt Gale put it into a maze of bodies in front of the Kelowna goal. Pilon was in that maze of bodies, and was able to locate the puck and force it past Murray to tie things at 2.
The Steam would then take the lead for good with 6:21 remaining in the second period on a goal that was somewhat contested by the Kelowna bench. After a waved off icing, Kelowna goaltender Cody Murray came part way out of his net to retrieve the puck. With Josh Pilon and a Kelowna defender bearing down on him, he only went halfway. The defender gave Pilon a bump on the way in, but unfortunately it was bump directly into Murray. Murray had time to get up, retrieve his stick, and get back in the net as the play went around the left wing boards.
Wyatt Gale did a great job to pick the puck up and get it back down below the goal line, where Summerland does their best work. Gale and Pilon were able to work the puck out front to a wide open Braden Eliuk, and he was able to beat Murray with an 18-foot shot for his 11th of the year. It would stand to be the winner, but Summerland wasn’t done there.
The power play came alive, as previously mentioned, and they’d connect three more times with the man advantage before the night was through. They’d connect on the power play once more before the end of the second period thanks to Jarrett Malchow. After some good work down low, Malchow moved the puck to the wall for Jack Mills. Mills then moved it to the point for Adam Jones, who made a good move to juke a defender and create some space. Jones was allowed to waltz down the left side and feed Malchow for a tap in at the back door. Malchow’s 2nd in as many games and 9th of the season would send the Steam to a 4-2 lead through 2 periods.
In the third we saw a little of everything, except for Kelowna goals. Matt Huber shut the door en route to his 14th win, and the Steam added a couple of power play goals to round the score at 6-2. Jack Mills would get the scoring started in the third exactly 4:00 in, on another power play, with his 26th of the season. Mills’ team leading 26th was made possible by a good net drive from Jarrett Malchow, who dropped the puck off for Mills and went straight to the net. Mills was able to rip a shot post-and-in on Cody Murray to give Summerland a 5-2 lead.
After the Steam’s 5th goal, the fists started to fly, and from a couple of unlikely combatants. First it was Raphie Bassot and Jeff Schlegel going toe to toe, followed closely by Scott Robinson and Jaden McNulty just 45 seconds later. For Bassot, he collected his first penalty minutes of the season on his 17th birthday in the tilt.
Summerland would add another power play goal late, with just 3:22 remaining to round out the 6-2 score. It started down in the corner with Jack Mills and Riley Pettitt throwing the puck around. Pettitt was able to step out of the corner and feed it cross-zone to Adam Jones, who lifted a shot up and over Murray for his 5th of the year.
It would spell the end of the night, and the end of a very successful weekend for the Summerland Steam. They’ll have to keep improving though, because it doesn’t get easier from there as they head down the stretch. They’ll embark on 3 home games in 4 days this coming weekend, and the opponents are stingy. The first, the Osoyoos Coyotes, are 6-1 vs the Steam this season and will visit the Summerland Arena for the 4th and final time this Friday night at 7:30. On Saturday night the Steam will host a rematch with the Revelstoke Grizzlies, who they beat 6-2 on January 29th. Finally, on Monday afternoon, February 8th, the Steam will host the Princeton Posse at 2PM to close out Family Day Weekend.