Small in stature, but big when it counts. That’s the story on the Kelowna Chiefs’ three goal scorers in Game 1, and it was just enough to take down the Summerland Steam in Double OT. Josh Kobelka and Jonathan Lee scored for the Chiefs in regulation, and Dakota Kittle netted the (controversial) OT winner 1:58 into double overtime to steal home ice advantage from the Steam. All three players stand at less than 5 foot 7 inches tall, but all played much bigger than that in helping Kelowna to a Game 1 victory.
The game had a strange feeling from the start, as it took both teams half the game to get familiar with one another and each get to ten shots on goal. Unfortunately for Summerland Matt Kostiw, who got the start in goal for Game #1, was forced out of the game due to an equipment malfunction just three minutes and change into the second period. Matt Huber came on in his relief, and gave the team solid minutes. The Chiefs were able to get two goals on him, both coming off defensive turnovers within 15 feet of the Summerland goal. Both ended up in the back of the net courtesy of a backhand into the top corner, and put the Chiefs out to a 2-0 lead in the mid-stages of the 2nd period.
Summerland would have a great third, struggling to beat Chiefs goaltender Brady Lenardon until the final three minutes. In the final three minutes, Paulsen Lautard cut the lead in half at 2:50, and Summerland had tons of time to mount the comeback. Just when it looked like they’d fall short courtesy of a penalty with 1:32 remaining, the Kelowna bench was assessed a bench minor for a late change on the same stoppage. Referee Dustin Minty had warned the Kelowna bench earlier in the game about the lateness of their changes, but decided he’d had enough in the closing moments of the third period.
With Kelowna already on the penalty kill, it pushed the situation to a 4-on-3. Summerland pulled their goalie to make it 5-on-3, and Jack Mills was able to find the back of the net with :48 remaining.
That would send us to some extra time, and a 10 minute period solved nothing. On to double OT we went, and it took just 1:58 for Dakota Kittle to end it with a shot from the left wing wall. The initial shot was stopped, but a net-drive from Luke Kalenuik resulted with the Kelowna forward in the goal crease, and Matt Huber unable to stop the puck from rolling up and over him into the net.
Thankfully it’s just game one and it’s not going to cost anybody their season, but it’s one of those things that Summerland wasn’t thrilled with and neither were the fans. Now it’s going to be a matter of the Steam putting the way Game 1 ended behind them and preparing for Game 2 on Thurdsay night at the Summerland Arena. The Steam need to be just a tad more polished from the start if they want to be successful against a Kelowna team that was physical, and did a good job of clogging the neutral zone and passing lanes in Game 1.
Mike and I (and hopefully Joel) will be live for pre-game at 7:15 on Thursday evening. We’ll break down Game 1, and get set for Game 2 with coaches interviews and a highlight package.
Game highlights will be live here when I get them finished: