With how short on time we are in the KIJHL Playoffs, there isn’t a lot of time to dive into the ins and outs of any particular game. Things are going to hasten now, as the first two games are in the books of every series across the KIJHL. The Summerland Steam earned a split on home ice in the first two games of the Okanagan Division Semi Final with the Kelowna Chiefs, and the series now shifts to Kelowna for Games 3 & 4.
This is the point in the KIJHL playoffs where things come to being a grind. After burning one of only two off-days in the series after Game 1, the Steam and the Chiefs will now play three games in three days before another off-day on Sunday. The first of those three was last night, a 2-1 victory for the Summerland Steam on the strength of a Calvin Hadley game-winner with 14:39 remaining in the third period. That goal put Summerland up 2-0, and Kelowna fought back with a goal from team captain Josh Baird in the closing minutes. Jack Mills also scored for the Steam, his second goal in as many playoff games.
Matt Kostiw picked up the victory and was very good for a second straight night, making 16 saves on 17 shots in the win. Highlights for both Games 1 and 2 are right here, and I’ve got some thoughts on Game 2 to follow:
Highlights from Game 2:
Highlights from Game 1:
Thoughts – Game 2:
- Summerland had a much better start to the game than they did in Game 1, but still didn’t have a great first period.
- Kelowna is doing a great job clogging the neutral zone and forcing Summerland to play the dump and chase type of game.
- Summerland was a much better team in the Face-Off circle in Game 2. They went 27/44 on Face-Offs, for a 61% win% on the draw. Faceoffs were what caused them to have to mount a comeback in Game 1, as both Kelowna goals in regulation came off draws in Summerland’s D-zone.
- The Steam also did a better job on the transition in the final two periods of Game 2. They made their own lives easier by ‘making the simple plays’, and found themselves in possession of the puck for much of the night.
- Matt Kostiw was as good as he needed to be on Thursday night. The Chiefs didn’t test him much, and only once or twice from the ‘high danger’ triangle out in front of the net. Kostiw was only beaten once, in the dying minutes of the third period when Kelowna cut the lead to one.
- Summerland is still taking too many penalties. They’ve been on the kill 13 times in the first two games, and will have to shore that up if they want success. Their best chance to beat the Chiefs is not by giving Kelowna an average of 6.5 power plays in each game. That’s the thing that will eventually come back to burn them if they’re not careful.
- On the subject of taking penalties, Tyler Love is firmly planted on the back of Jack Mills. Mills could care less, as he’s got two goals in two games anyway despite the best efforts of Kelowna’s ‘Super Pest’.
- Love and Mills were at it from the opening faceoff in Game 2, each taking unsportmanlike conduct penalties just :11 seconds into the game.
- In Game 2, Love (whether by choice, or by coaches’ instruction) completely abandoned anything to do with actual hockey related activities, and just stuck to the back (or the front) of Jack Mills. In an attempt to get Mills off his game, Love continually got his stick and gloves up in the face of Summerland’s leading scorer, but ended up -2 on the night for his efforts.
- For the Chiefs, Brady Lenardon has been good in the first two games. He hasn’t been tested much, seeing just 24 shots and 19 shots, respectively, but he’s been up to task in the Kelowna goal crease.
- It will be interesting to see what the two coaches in this series do with three games in three days, particularly with their goalies. Both teams have two (or three) capable netminders, and with three games in three nights followed by only one off day, there’s a good chance we could see multiple goaltenders over the next three days.
Puck Drop on Game 3 goes tonight at 7:00 from the Rutland Arena. Catch Justin McCartney and the crew on playfullscreen.com if you can’t be in the arena!