Steam Wrap Up Season With Awards Night

It’s always bittersweet, the end of a season. This season, that end came what seems like MUCH later than in previous years for the Summerland Steam. The 2015/16 edition of the Steam, helmed again by Head Coach John Depourcq and staff, once again pushed the boundaries of the franchise’s comfort zone. For the third straight year they pushed further than ever before, this time falling in Game 5 of the Okanagan Shuswap Conference Final to the 100 Mile House Wranglers.

A young team this season, with just two 20-year-olds on the roster, the Summerland Steam came together as a group and put up one heck of a fight despite a hectic schedule. Including the final weekend of the regular season, the Steam played 20 games (1270 minutes, 4 seconds incl. OT) in 31 days. Their travel spanned nearly 2000KM on a bus in that time, and one bus ride to get to 100 Mile House for game 1 of the Conference Final that tested the meddle of every player, coach, and staff member on the trip.

The bottom line is that the 2015/16 KIJHL season goes down as the best in the 5 year Franchise History of the Summerland Steam. They won the most games (34) in the regular season that they ever have. They tied their point total (70) from the historic run of 2013/14 with 70, even though they got there a much different way. The organization saw records for both Total Regular Season Goals (Paulsen Lautard – 66) and Single Season Points (Jack Mills – 67) broken.

After that phenomenal regular season, the Steam proceeded to go deeper into the playoffs than they ever had before, beating the Kelowna Chiefs in round one and the Osoyoos Coyotes in round two. Unfortunately they fell short of their ultimate goal, losing in five games to the 100 Mile House Wranglers in the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference Final. After 17 playoff games in 27 days, nearly 1100 minutes played, 6 overtime games, and nearly 2000KM traveled, they finally exhaled this week and got a little bit of rest.

This past Thursday night at the IOOF Hall in downtown Summerland, the organization had one last chance to get together and celebrate what a great season this was for this franchise. After some kind words from team pastor and MC Rick Gay as well as Head Coach John Depourcq and GM Gregg Wilson, the hardware was handed out.

Here are the recipients:

TOP SCORER & REGULAR SEASON MVP – JACK MILLS

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Jack finished his final season of junior hockey by setting a new Franchise Record for Single Season Points with 67. He recorded 30 goals, only the second Steam player to do that (Kienan Scott, 32, ’13-14), and 37 assists to pass assistant coach Jordan McCallum (left of frame) for the franchise record. McCallum set the record with 65 points in 2012/13. Jack led the Steam in goals, assists, total points, and points per game average, as well as finishing in the top 10 in scoring for the entire KIJHL.

 

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR – MATT HUBER

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Matt Huber had a fantastic rookie season in the KIJHL. In 30 appearances, the 18 year-old from Calgary put up an 18-8 record, 2.04 Goals Against Average, and .918% Save percentage to go with SEVEN shutouts. Huber allowed two or less goals in 21 of his 30 appearances during the 2015/16 KIJHL Season, and was a big part of the playoff run the Summerland Steam put together. He and his goaltending partner Matt Kostiw provided Head Coach John Depourcq with two very, very solid options to go with night in and night out from the time Kostiw arrived on January 10th.

TOP DEFENSEMAN – ADAM JONES

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For the second straight season, Adam Jones was named the Summerland Steam’s Top Defenseman. For good reason. After putting up eight points (4g+4a) in 2014/15, Jones took a big leap in 2015/16. He played top-pair minutes for Head Coach John Depourcq, quarterbacked the first power play unit for much of the season, and put up 6 goals and 18 assists for 24 points while cutting his penalty minute total by nearly a third, from 60 in 2014/15 down to 46 in 2015/16.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER – MICHAEL MacLEAN

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The development of Michael MacLean during the 2015/16 KIJHL season was something to behold. A little tentative at the start of the season, MacLean really started to ‘turn the corner’ just prior to the Holiday Break. He began to get comfortable with KIJHL hockey and started to use his combination of size and speed to his advantage. For a big young man, at 6 foot 4 and 225 lbs, MacLean skates very well and has a great set of hands. As the year progressed he began to get comfortable using those tools, and eventually found himself replacing an injured Jarrett Malchow on the Yukon Line alongside Wyatt Gale and Riley Pettitt during the late stages of the season. If MacLean returns to the Steam next season, I would imagine with his blend of size and skill, he will have a chance to capture a spot in Head Coach John Depourcq’s Top 6.

SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR – LATHAN MCKINNEY

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An unfortunate situation forced then 19-year-old Lathan McKinney out of the Steam lineup late in the regular season, and cost him the entire playoffs as a result. The main thing is that the problem is now solved, and McKinney is recovering comfortably. In 41 games this season, McKinney posted a goal and seven assists for Summerland, but in the past two seasons combined, 85 games, McKinney has taken just 5 minor penalties. Yes, that’s just 10 minutes in penalties in two seasons. That’s pretty great, especially for a defenseman who is versatile, dependable, and brings a lot to the table. For those reasons, he was named the Summerland Steam’s “Sportsman of the Year” for 2015/16.

FAN FAVOURITE – CALVIN HADLEYDSC_0213

Judging by the response from his teammates when Calvin Hadley was named the Fan Favourite of 2015/16, I would be comfortable telling you that the guy they call “Hads” is a dressing room favourite as well. Hadley is beloved by his teammates, his peers, and his coaches because he’s a guy that doesn’t take a shift off. He’s a hard-nosed type player that teams don’t like to play against, and he’ll stick up for any teammate, any time there’s a need. That also endears him to the fans. In the playoffs his shot became a sort of ‘secret weapon’ for the Steam, as he scored some big goals for them with nothing more than a low, hard point shot.

Oh, and moments like these help endear him to teammates and fans, too:

 

 

PLAYOFF MVP – BRADEN ELIUKDSC_0217

The 2015/16 KIJHL Playoffs were a coming out party of sorts for Braden Eliuk. The 19-year-old from Kelowna, BC, put up 3 goals and 18 assists for 21 points in 17 games during the playoffs to lead the Steam (and the league) in scoring. During the regular season Eliuk posted 12 goals and 22 assists for 34 points and a 0.7 points per game average, which jumped to 1.2 points per game with his 21 points in 17 playoff games. For that, he was named the Summerland Steam’s playoff MVP. If he returns next year to the Steam, he’ll surely play top line minutes and be a BIG part of what the then 6th year franchise will want to accomplish.

 

There was one other award that WASN’T given out at the Awards Ceremony on Thursday night. That, of course, is the “Broadcaster’s Choice Award”. The Broadcaster’s Choice Award, formerly the Blogger’s Choice Award, is an award that is given to the player that doesn’t exactly fit into any of the other categories. I liken it to the ‘Unsung Hero’ award, and this year it goes to a very special hockey player.

BROADCASTER’S CHOICE AWARD – ALEX ‘GRIZZ’ WILLIAMS

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There wasn’t much debating this one. Alex Williams, the guy they affectionately call ‘Grizz’, doesn’t get a whole lot of recognition. He’s a guy that goes about his business so comfortably, so steadily, that you rarely ever have to talk about him. He’s a guy that’s well liked by almost everybody, with the only exception being opposing players. Grizz will put up a few points a season, but his voice and leadership in the room and on the ice is far more valuable than any amount of points could ever be. He’s defensively solid, by all accounts a great teammate, and a guy that’s willing to stand up to anybody that gets in his or his teammates’ dog house. He’s got a big beard, and an even bigger heart, and that just adds to what Williams brings to the table for the Summerland Steam. Those qualities are qualities that can’t be taught, and are also qualities that deserve more recognition than Grizz gets. For that, Joel, Mike and I have chosen Alex Williams as this year’s Broadcaster’s Choice Award winner.

Now for the always tough part:                            THE 20’S

 

PAULSEN LAUTARD

After 130 games, 66 goals, and 82 assists in a Summerland uniform, ‘The Captain’ is done in junior hockey. It’s been a great three seasons for the relationship between Paulsen Lautard and the Summerland Steam. He’s the Steam’s franchise leader in goals scored in the regular season, and a big part of what’s gone on in the town of Summerland in the last three years. At his best, Paulsen Lautard is one of the most dominant KIJHL players I’ve seen in my years in hockey. His blend of size, speed and skill is very nearly unmatched, and his leadership will be missed. Not only is he a huge asset on the ice, but a great one off of it as well. The Steam organization wishes Paulsen all the best in hockey and in life, wherever the future may take him.

Career Statistics, Regular Season: Penticton Lakers(2011-13), Summerland Steam (2013-16)

 

 

CAREER TOTALS

GP

167

GOALS

77

ASSISTS

91

POINTS

168

  • Leaves Summerland as the only player to wear the ‘C’ on his sweater for more than one season.
  • Leaves Summerland as the Franchise Leader in goals during the regular season with 66.
  • Leaves Summerland as the leader in Goals (66), Assists (82), and Points (148). Also sits 4th in Games Played (130) and 5th in Points Per Game Average (1.14)

JACK MILLS

 

When Jack Mills arrived to start the 2014/15 KIJHL season, almost every person in the organization knew immediately that they’d found a special player. Jack possesses a kind of skill set that could have had him playing at the CHL or BCHL level, if not for a couple of injuries the previous two seasons. He’s a superstar on the ice, as evidenced by his career numbers seen below, but more importantly he’s a guy that demands respect from his teammates and his peers. Whether it’s in the dressing room, on the ice, or out in the community, Jack is a guy that his teammates look up to and learn from. His passion for hockey is special, and he’ll do anything to win. Whether it’s scoring a big goal, killing a penalty, or laying out to block a shot with an already injured limb, he’ll do it, and that’s what makes him the player he is. Mills capped off the season with 67 points to finish in the top 10 in KIJHL scoring, lead the Steam, and break a franchise record previously held by one of his coaches, Jordan McCallum. He’s been a pleasure to watch from the moment he arrived here in Summerland, and the organization wishes Jack the best in whatever his bright future may hold.

Career Statistics, Regular Season: Summerland Steam (2014-16)

 

CAREER TOTALS

GP

100

GOALS

57

ASSISTS

66

POINTS

123

PTS P/G

1.23

  • Leaves the Steam sitting second All-Time to fellow 20-year-old Paulsen Lautard in Goals (57), Assists (66), and Points (123)
  • Jack sits second all-time in points per game average as well, with an average of 1.23 points per game.
  • Jack holds the single season record for points with 67 (30 goals, 37 assists) this past season.

 

 

Lastly, a big THANK YOU for following along with Trolley Talk again this season. This is a space that allows me a lot of freedom to do a lot of things to keep the hockey world up to date on all things Summerland Steam, and I appreciate everybody following along for another year. Stay tuned, as eventually (when I’ve got time) I’ll put together a highlight package of all of the wonderful moments this 2015/16 Summerland Steam squad gave us this year. It was the best year in the history of the Summerland Steam, and it’s only going to get better.

Signing off for 2015/2016, again, THANK YOU.

Steam Derailed by Wranglers

It all has to end at some point. For the Summerland Steam, the best season in franchise history came to an end with a trip to 100 Mile House to face the Wranglers in Game 5 this past Monday night.

In their 20th game (including final 3 regular season games) in 30 nights, 6 of which went to OT or 2OT, the visitors still came up with the game’s first goal. For the 15th time in 18 playoff games, the Summerland Steam got the upper hand by opening the scoring after a great start.

The Steam were able to beat Wranglers’ goaltender Zane Steeves with a long shot from Alex Williams. Josh Pilon and Michael McEachern did some good work down low to get the puck out to Williams, who let go of a long shot from the left point that found it’s way through traffic. This capped off a great start for the Steam, who looked to be dead set on making a mistake by a third party that ended Game 4 controversially a moot point. They did a good job to get pucks deep behind the Wranglers’ D, and were generating chances despite a lack of shots on net.

Unfortunately, that’s where the positives stopped for the Steam in Game 5. They would go to the intermission with the lead, but couldn’t hold off the Wranglers in the second period. Ryan Friesen would draw the Wranglers even with a power play goal that saw him find a loose puck and poke it through a pile (that Matt Huber was on the bottom of) to tie the game at 1. Huber argued his case to the officials, but was of course unsuccessful in his efforts to plead his case.

Nick McCabe would then fire a long shot on net that would beat Huber via deflection and stand as the game winner. After Summerland failed to clear the zone three, yes three, times, McCabe found a loose puck up near the blue line and fired it towards the net. It ticked off a Steam defender, and beat Huber on the deflection to put the Wranglers up 2-1.

Friesen would then add another power play goal late in the second to cap off the scoring and effectively put the ‘nail in the coffin’ of the Summerland Steam. Ironically, the guy who spent training camp and part of exhibition season with the Steam would be the guy to notch two goals in the game that ends their best season ever.

The visitors would attempt a comeback in the third, but couldn’t really generate much in the way off an offensive push. They were out of gas. Plain and simple. After 1090 minutes and 4 seconds of playoff hockey that spanned nearly 2000 KM on a bus, 17 games, 6 OT games, and only 27 days, they were finally out of gas.

It was a hell of a run.

Most people weren’t sure if the Summerland Steam would get through Round 1 of the KIJHL Playoffs against the Kelowna Chiefs, and they almost didn’t, but they came together as a group to get the job done.

Then came the ‘Knockout heard round the world’, as the Steam ousted the Osoyoos Coyotes, who many had already anointed the KIJHL’s Okanagan Shuswap Conference Champions. A squad from Summerland that had beaten Osoyoos just once in their last 16 regular season meetings, was able to put down the regular season Okanagan Shuswap Conference Champs in six games.

These are the kinds of things that bring a team and a community together. These types of things build not only character, but a strong bond between 24 young men that will last forever. For the first time, the Summerland Steam are Okanagan Division Playoff Champions, and they did it with a total team effort that saw them climb over even the most unbeatable of obstacles.

Led by Paulsen Lautard and Jack Mills, the team’s only two 20 year old players, the Steam accomplished things this season that were firsts in franchise history. Lautard set the Steam’s all-time record for goals recorded during the regular season with a career total of 59 on January 3rd. He’d end up with 66 and holds the record to himself. Mills, on the other hand, set the franchise record for points in a single season with 67. He tied the record with two assists on February 19th against the Princeton Posse. He then broke the record the following night with an assist against the North Okanagan Knights in Armstrong, and pounded home his 30th goal and 67th point of the season on it’s final day, February 21st, on home ice to set the record for good.

For Lautard and Mills the ending to this series is especially bittersweet. Having been here three seasons and two seasons respectively, the Steam’s two 20-year-olds have helped the franchise reach new heights. With their on-ice performance, off-ice dedication and leadership the two have helped shape the Steam into a proven winner and a positive influence on the community of Summerland. Their teammates, coaches, and Steam fans adore them both, which says all you need to know about the two veteran forwards. They have the ability to electrify, particularly when playing together, and were a lot of fun to watch ‘do their thing’ over the past couple of years.

As for the rest of the Steam, they deserve every bit of recognition they get. They had a heck of a season, the best in franchise history, and 22 of them will be eligible to return next year. Here’s a quick list of some of the accomplishments as a team this season:

  • 2nd place finish in Okanagan Division. 4th top two finish in five seasons.
  • Most wins in a regular season in franchise history with 34.
  • Tied for most points in a regular season with 70 (2013/14)
  • Beat Kelowna and Osoyoos to reach the Okanagan Shuswap Conference Final for the first time.
  • New Franchise Leader for Total Goals in Regular Season: Paulsen Lautard, 66
  • New Franchise Leader for Single Season Points: Jack Mills, 67
  • New Franchise Leader for Shutouts in a Single Season: Matt Huber, 7

The Steam wrapped things up with a pretty bow on Thursday night with an awards banquet at the IOOF Hall in downtown Summerland. Stay tuned for a list of winners as well as a season ending wrap up.

 

Wranglers Win Game 3 In OT, Take 2-1 Series Lead

After a grueling trip to the South Cariboo for games 1 & 2 of the Okanagan Shuswap Conference Final, the Summerland Steam came home feeling pretty good about themselves. They earned themselves a split in two road games with the 100 Mile House Wranglers up in the South Cariboo, and took to the ice for Game 3 looking to take a series lead on Friday night at home.

Here’s how that went:

What resulted was a 5-4 loss for the Steam, in overtime, in a game that they probably feel they should have had. Stephen Egan, the captain of the 100 Mile House Wranglers notched the OT winner on a great pass from Tyler Povelofski to give the Wranglers back their series lead.

Thoughts:

    • The Summerland Steam got off to a good start in this game. They opened the scoring for the 13th time in 15 playoff games, and looked sharp early.
    • 100 Mile showed some good push back after Summerland opened the scoring, and got two goals on two bad giveaways in the defensive zone by the Steam.
    • Ryan Friesen would add the only goal in a second period that saw the two teams go back and forth without much success. Summerland controlled possession through the first two periods, but found themselves down 3-1 on three defensive mistakes .
    • Summerland would be the ones to push back in the third, and even took the lead courtesy of goals from Paulsen Lautard, Michael MacLean and Jack Mills.
    • They would then take a penalty and give up the lead on a back door pass to Tavis Roch to tie the game at 4 with just a few minutes left.
    • Summerland would then be given a 5 minute power play after Cole Zimmerman was barred from the game for a headshot on Jarrett Malchow. With 3:46 remaining in the game, Malchow stepped over the blue line and into a slapshot. As the puck left his stick, you can see in the video below that Zimmerman adjusts his angle and comes at Malchow at nearly 90 degrees. He gets his elbow up into the face/chin area of Malchow, an unsuspecting opponent who doesn’t see Zimmerman coming to blindside him. Here’s the clip:
  • Both referees (goodness only knows how) originally missed the hit, but one of the linesman made sure to mention what he saw during a lengthy referees conference while Malchow was being tended to on the ice, motionless.
  • The ensuing 5 minute power play turned out to be moot, as it was just as fruitful as all of Summerland’s other power play’s on the night.
  • A power play that’s been the best in the KIJHL in the playoffs fell silent on Friday night in Game 3. They went 0-for-6, but could have been 3-for-6 if not for some bad ‘puck luck’.
  • Jack Mills and Riley Pettitt generated a GLORIOUS chance for Pettitt to end it right before the Wranglers went the other way and scored in OT. Adam Derochie was great for 100 Mile in last night’s game, stopping 38 of 42.
  • The playoffs are all about having a short memory. There’s lots of road left to travel and it starts tonight with Game 4, as Summerland tries to even the series and force a Game 6 back at the Summerland Arena on Tuesday night.
  • Make sure to come down prior to Game 4 for the Summerland Steam’s Tailgate Party in the Summerland Arena parking lot, presented by Nesters Market. All proceeds from food and drink sales go to the Summerland Royalty Program!

Huber Sensational as Steam Steal Home Ice Advantage

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File Photo of Matt Huber. Photo: Sarah Mayer

After a nightmare trip to Game one, and an ending that wasn’t so bright, the Summerland Steam started off well in Game two at the South Cariboo Rec Centre. With the 100 Mile House Wranglers out to a 1-0 series lead thanks to a Cole Zimmerman goal in Double OT, the Steam came out with a purpose in Game 2 looking to even the series at one.

In Game one, the Steam looked road wary. After their bus broke down and caused their four hour travel day to turn to eight, they were able to put up a gutsy effort and hang in thanks to a stellar goaltending performance form Matt Huber. Jarrett Malchow and Keenan Scott scored the goals, but they weren’t enough as a perfect shot from Zimmerman gave the Wranglers the 1-0 series lead.

To start Game two, Head Coach John Depourcq sent the Yukon Line to the ice for the opening face-off. His hunch was rewarded, as just :30 seconds into the game Jarrett Malchow notched his 6th of the playoffs to give the Steam an early lead. Off a d-zone clear, Malchow found himself on a 2-on-1 with Riley Pettitt. Pettitt showed good patience to wait out the sprawling Wranglers defenseman and feed Malchow, who beat Zane Steeves in the Wranglers’ net.

Paulsen Lautard would then add to the Steam lead with 7:30 gone in the first off a feed from Jack Mills to put the visitors up 2-0. The Steam had a great first period, playing solid defensive hockey and taking the puck to the net on more than a handful of occasions.

They would go to the break leading 2-0, and it would be up to Matt Huber and the defense from that point on. I can’t possibly overstate the importance of the performances Matt Huber put in during the two games in 100 Mile House, because he was that good. He was sensational again on this night, in Game Two, and shut the door on the Wranglers save for one long shot that took a deflection in front.

The deflection would come with 10:51 gone in the 2nd period off of a long point shot by Wranglers defenseman Todd Bredo. Bredo lofted one from 52 feet that took a deflection off some part of Justin Bond in front, and found it’s way past Huber to close the gap to one.

It was all they would get, as Huber would stand tall through the back half of the second and through the third to preserve Summerland’s 2-1 victory. In the past two contests, Huber’s faced 66 shots, and allowed just four goals against. That’s a 2.00 GAA and a .939 Sv% against one of the best teams in the KIJHL, in case anyone was counting.

The Steam forwards had their chances on this night as well. They did good work to get pucks deep and go to work, making things tough for the Wranglers’ defensemen all night long. They made life tough for Zane Steeves in the Wranglers’ goal, as he was was nearly equally as good for the Wranglers as Matt Huber was for the Steam. Ultimately, the Steam were able to get one more past him for a victory in Game 2, and will come home from the South Cariboo with a split and home ice advantage.

Now they must take care of their own, win their home games, and not look back. The Steam played what I would count as a “perfect road game” on Wednesday evening. What I mean by that is they capitalized on a couple of opportunities, didn’t allow TOO much until a late push from the Wranglers, and came out with a victory.

They’ll need to come out with a good start in Game 3, because the Wranglers will surely be ready to roll. I bid everybody a great day off, and we’ll see you for full pre-game at 6:45PM on Friday night from The Station at the Summerland Arena.

Wranglers Take Early Lead Despite Huber’s Heroics

The Summerland Steam traveled north on Tuesday night, and into uncharted territory to play the 100 Mile House Wranglers in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference Final. This is the first appearance in the Conference Final for both teams, and in the first period they both came out rather tentative.

With 100 Mile House having 4 days off opposed to Summerland’s one day off, the Wranglers looked a little fresher in the first five minutes. Of course that could also be due to the delays in Summerland getting to 100 Mile due to bus trouble, but it doesn’t matter. Game time is game time, after all, and the Wranglers were sharp early. It was Summerland though that would score the opening goal of the game and the series, the 8th time in 10 games that they’ve done so.

Keenan Scott would be the guy to get the goal, his first of the playoffs, as he was able to step into the slot on a power play and wire a wrister past Wranglers goaltender Zane Steeves. Jack Mills and Riley Pettitt would record assists on the opening goal of the series.

The lead lasted just :32, however, as the Wranglers were able to tie things up thanks to Alex Hanson. Hanson found a loose puck in the slot and recorded his 2nd of the playoffs, beating Matt Huber from about 15 feet out. Justin Bond would record the lone assist.

What would closely follow the equalizing goal was a near 30 minute delay to fix the glass down to the left of Wranglers goaltender Zane Steeves. Once they got it fixed, we got back to action and played nearly 10 minutes before the Wranglers took a 2-1 lead. Ryan Friesen would be credited with the goal, off a scramble in front of Matt Huber that somehow ended up in the back of the net.

The Wranglers would go to the room with a 2-1 lead and a 13-8 shot advantage through the first period, but Summerland would come out with a little better effort in the second. They started with some good pressure, and sustained it on a power play through the middle of the 2nd period. That power play would only last a minute before a penalty was called on Calvin Hadley for what I considered to be a clean hit in open ice on Brett Harris.

Wranglers captain Steven Egan took exception to the hit, and chased Hadley around to the other side of the ice. The two talked for a moment before deciding to shed the mitts, and Hadley filled in Egan with right hands and upper cuts before taking off for an early shower.

The Steam would kill the Hadley penalty, and get the game back to square immediately afterwards. Jarrett Malchow was able to locate a loose puck flipped out of the Steam zone and found himself with a breakaway. He made a nice move to the backhand and beat Zane Steeves on the blocker side to tie the game at 2.

The two teams would go to the third in a 2-2 tie, but the busiest person in the arena in the intermission might have been Steam Athletic Trainer Jessica Slivka. Raphael Bassot and Jarrett Malchow both went down in period number two, needing medical assistance. Malchow was able to stay in the game, but Bassot was not seen again in Game 1 until late in the third period.

That third period would yield no scoring, but would see Matt Huber make a couple of very key saves to keep the game tied and force overtime. Summerland had their chances as well, but were unable to beat Zane Steeves and the 100 Mile House defense.

Overtime number one, a ten minute frame, would yield as much scoring as the third period did: none. Again it was one Matthew Huber who made a couple of very key stops to keep the Wranglers from winning, and again Summerland had their chances but couldn’t pot one. They even had a power play early in the first ten minute overtime, but were unable to beat Wranglers goaltender Zane Steeves.

At the other end, the Wranglers had their chances, the majority of them on this night, and Matt Huber was equal to task. The Wranglers were finally able to beat him at 10:35 of OT2, as a turnover at the offensive blue line for Summerland turned into a 2-on-1 the other way. The Steam defenseman did a great job to break up the 2-on-1, but the puck rolled right to Cole Zimmerman fresh off the Wranglers bench. He beat his back-checker into the zone and beat Huber with a low shot to the blocker side to send the Wranglers to a Game 1 win by a score of 3-2 in 2OT.

Summerland looked tired tonight. They didn’t quite hit the wall, but you could tell that the one day off in between games, plus the adversity they faced today with their bus troubles and delays played a factor. Matt Huber was by far the sharpest member of the team, making 41 saves despite not being able to stop the last shot. He made several five-bell stops in the third period and overtime that kept the Steam in the game, and did all he could to buoy them until they could get a goal. Unfortunately they weren’t able to and he takes a loss, but he certainly deserved better.

Summerland as a whole was tired, and you could tell. They did their best to hide it and put their best foot forward tonight, but you could just tell they were fighting it just a little bit. The nice thing about the playoffs is they can get a good sleep tonight, and go back to work to even this series at 1 coming home for Games 3 & 4 on Friday and Saturday.

 

STEAM, WRANGLERS GET SET FOR HISTORIC CONFERENCE FINAL

They say life is a series of firsts, and the 2016 Okanagan Shuswap Conference Final is one of those firsts for the KIJHL. Two teams, both having spent 5 years or less in their respective communities, will battle one another for a Conference Title. The Summerland Steam and the 100 Mile House Wranglers enter the Okanagan Shuswap Conference Final each for the first time, and both feeling pretty good about their recent results.

The Wranglers dispatched the dark-horse, dare I say ‘cult favourite’ Chase Heat in just 5 games in the Doug Birks Division Final. This came on the heels of a somewhat surprising 5 game series victory over the perennial Doug Birks Division powerhouse Kamloops Storm. The team from the South Cariboo plays a ‘rough N’ tumble’ type game, displaying strong physical skills and great goaltending from the tandem of Zane Steeves and Adam Derochie. They’ve also got a few guys, including former Summerland Steam Forward Brett Harris, who can really put the puck in the back of the net.

Harris, along with Justin Bond and former Steam camp invitee Ryan Friesen lead the Wranglers up front. The three have combined for 34 points (12 goals, 22 assists) in 10 games, and do the bulk of the scoring for the reigning Doug Birks Division Champions.

The Wranglers play in a tough barn, the South Cariboo Rec Centre, which is usually full of 500-800 die hard Wranglers’ fans. This makes things difficult for opposing teams coming into the home building in 100 Mile House, and the Summerland Steam should expect no less with the Wranglers making their first appearance in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference Final.

Under Head Coach and General Manager Dale Hladun, the Wranglers have an identity. They make you pay both on the scoreboard as well as on the boards. They’re physical, possibly more physical than any team the Summerland Steam have seen this season, and spent the second most time shorthanded in the entire KIJHL during the regular season. The only team to be shorthanded more were the Grand Forks Border Bruins, so this might be an area that the Summerland Steam can capitalize on if they’re able to draw a few penalties.

Speaking of those Summerland Steam, their road to their first appearance in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference Final hasn’t been an easy one, either. They started with a 6 game slugfest with the Kelowna Chiefs, and then had to switch gears to be the underdogs against the Osoyoos Coyotes. With their track record against the Coyotes well documented, they surprised a lot of people by dispatching of the Regular Season Okanagan Division Champs in 6 games.

They’ve gotten to where they are now with a unique combination of defensive stiffness and a willingness to put the puck in the net. They’ve scored the most goals in the playoffs, but they’ve also allowed the most goals in the playoffs. Thankfully, they’ve been able to clamp down in their own zone when it’s been required, and have found themselves with a spot in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference Final.

The Steam find themselves in a unique situation heading into this series with the Wranglers, but it’s one that Head Coach John Depourcq’s coaching style lends itself to. With only one day between the end of the Okanagan Division Final and the start of the Conference Final, the one thing Head Coach John Depourcq says to us in every pre-game interview is going to be imperative for Summerland:

“Play our game and we’ll be fine.”  – Steam Head Coach John Depourcq

They haven’t had time to prep for the Wranglers. They only have the memories of a 3-2OTW and a 2-1 win in regulation in mid-November to look back on, and if they can duplicate those results in Game 1, they’re going to be fine.

Game 1 goes tonight from the SCRC, while Game 2 goes tomorrow night at 7PM. Game 3 & 4 will be played in Summerland at the Summerland Arena at 7PM on Friday night and Saturday night this coming weekend. Tickets are available now at Nesters Market in downtown Summerland.

STEAM TAKE DOWN COYOTES TO WIN OKANAGAN DIVISION CROWN

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Jarrett Malchow and Braden Eliuk celebrate Malchow’s goal on March 13th vs Osoyoos. Original Photo: Sarah Mayer

Sunday night was one of those special nights if you’re a Summerland Steam fan. After beating the Osoyoos Coyotes just once in their last 16 regular season meetings, the Steam would cap off the Okanagan Division Championship with a convincing 6-4 victory for their third victory in a row.

It was an outcome that nobody expected, Summerland beating Osoyoos, but the Steam showed they were for real and the regular season means nothing when it all comes down to the playoffs. They showed that straight away with a 5-0 trouncing in Game 1. The Coyotes then showed some pushback and took Games 2 & 3 by 6-2 and 7-4 scores, and all of a sudden they had some confidence and their swagger back.

In game 4, Summerland was able to pull off a 5-4 OT win thanks to a Jack Mills goal in the final minute of the first OT. That was the ‘TSN Turning Point’ on the entire series, as Summerland would button down the defensive zone and win 4-3 in Game 5, before coming home for Game 6 with a chance to close it out. That’s where we sat heading to Sunday night, and the Steam knew that if they played the same way in Game 6 as they had in Game 5, they’d be successful in Game 6.

It wasn’t all rosy at the Summerland Arena on Sunday night, as the Coyotes jumped out to an early 2-0 lead and looked to have a little jump to start the game. Rainer Glimpel opened the scoring on a power play just pripr to the 7 minute mark of the first period. The Coyotes captain took a pass from Dan Stone and beat Matt Huber five-hole to give the ‘Yotes the lead.

Judd Repole would then add to it near the midway mark of the period, locating a loose rebound out in front of the Summerland net to push the Coyotes’ lead to 2-0. This effectively took all the air out of a full Summerland Arena and silenced the biggest crowd of the season. The Summerland Steam had trouble in the first period, looking a little sloppy and out of position. After the Coyotes went up 2-0, it looked like the Steam were just going to try to get to the end of the period down 2-0 and regroup in the intermission.

The Yukon Line had other ideas, however, as a good breakout allowed them an opportunity in the final minute of the first period. Wyatt Gale didn’t record an assist on Summerland’s first goal of the night, but he was an imperative piece of the puzzle. He made a great little play on the left wing boards in the defensive zone to push the puck to the middle for Keenan Scott. Scott then moved out of the zone and found Jarrett Malchow on the right wing side. He had a step on a defenseman, and fed a puck back to the middle for Riley Pettitt, who was on his way to the net. Pettitt did great work to beat his defenseman to the puck, and beat Brett Soles on the blocker side to cut the Coyotes’ lead in half.

The goal in the final minute gave Summerland some life, and in the second period they went to work and took the game over completely. A four goal second period gave Summerland an insurmountable 5-2 lead, and they did a fantastic job of locking down and allowing nothing in front of Matt Huber for the final 40 minutes.

Braden Eliuk would tie the game at two six minutes into the second period thanks to a cheeky little back pass from Jack Mills. Malchow then added a power play tally to give the Steam the lead, taking a feed from Braden Eliuk at the point and beating Brett Soles on the power play. The Malchow goal was then followed promptly by Jack Mills hammering a puck into the top corner to make the score 4-2. After getting in on a breakaway thanks to a great stretch pass from Paulsen Lautard, Mills couldn’t beat Soles. The Coyotes’ goaltender flashed a little leather to stop the Steam’s regular season leading scorer, but that wasn’t where the play stopped. The puck popped loose to the corner, where the Steam went back to work. A good forecheck from Lautard and Braden Eliuk freed up the puck, and Eliuk found Mills in the slot. Mills had all the time in the world as he found himself open in the slot, and he one-timed the pass into the top corner above a sprawling Soles.

Matt Huber would then make a save on a shorthanded breakaway from Bobby Larue just after the Mills goal made it 4-2. On the power play, the puck popped loose off the Steam defense and Larue found himself all alone. He made a quick move and tried to shoot five-hole, but Huber closed it up just in time to make the stop. That in itself was the game saver in my opinion, and Summerland allowed the Coyotes nothing after that point.

Wyatt Gale would add another in the final minute of the second, making the score 5-2 and allowing Summerland to go into defense first mode for the remainder of the game. Summerland did great work to minimize the amount of chances the Coyotes had in the back half of the game, and did well to keep pushing forward as a five-man unit.

Summerland would go to the locker room with their 5-2 lead, feeling pretty comfortable with where they were at. In the third, they continued what they did in the second period and it showed. They didn’t allow much, moved up and down the ice as a five-man unit, and allowed Matt Huber to see everything until the final few minutes.

The four goal second period b Summerland ended the night for Coyotes’ starter Brett Soles. Stephen Heslop, not seen in game action since the 2nd period of Game 4, would step in for the third period. He made a couple of saves on Steam partial breakaways by Michael McEachern and Jack Mills to keep the score within reach for the Coyotes.

The third period would yield no scoring until the closing minutes. With over 5 minutes remaining, Coyotes Head Coach and GM Ken Law pulled Heslop for an extra attacker in a last-ditch effort to get some offense. The Coyotes would then receive a power play, but Adam Jones would dump a puck into an empty net on the ensuing face-off to round out Summerland’s side of the scoring and make it 6-2. Braeden Tuck and Matt Adams would add late goals for the Coyotes to pull the score to 6-4, but it wouldn’t be enough.

Highlights:

The Summerland Steam are 2016 Okanagan Division Champions. That’s fun to say. They were finally able to exercise their mental demons and beat those Osoyoos Coyotes that had their number for the last three seasons. The Coyotes are a great hockey team, but the Steam showed that even the greatest of teams can be beaten if you play them the right way.

Summerland is a good hockey team too, and they surprised a lot of people with their series win and Okanagan Division title. They didn’t surprise me, though. When these twenty three young men play to their potential, they’re as good as any team in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. They’ve got an uphill battle to climb, but if they keep pushing and playing the way they played against Osoyoos, they’re not going to be easily stopped.

Speaking of those Coyotes, I’d like to take a second and thank the Coyotes organization for another great season and another great rivalry. All the people in the Coyotes organization that I’ve come in contact with over the past couple of years have been some of the best people in the KIJHL, and they make spending time around this league and this division a whole lot easier and a whole lot more fun.

I’d also like to congratulate the Coyotes veteran players, particularly the 20-year-olds, who graduate from Junior hockey after one of the best years in Osoyoos Coyotes history. Rainer Glimpel, Bobby Larue, Stephen Heslop, Brett Soles and Steele Anderson were a huge part of what the Coyotes accomplished this season, and finished strong with good performances during the playoffs.

For the Summerland Steam, it’s now on to the Okanagan Shuswap Conference Final against the 100 Mile House Wranglers. They only had one day to prepare, as an off-day Monday is all they’ll get before taking to the ice Tuesday night at the South Cariboo Rec Centre in 100 Mile House. Puck drop will go at 7PM.

 

OKANAGAN DIVISION FINAL NOW A BEST OF 3

Photos: Sarah Mayer

Man, have we come a long way since the last post to Trolley Talk. With the grind of the playoffs it isn’t easy to come up with something after every game, so let’s get started on a recap now that we’ve got an off-day.

We left off after Summerland was able to hammer out a 5-0 shutout victory in Osoyoos in Game 1. While the severity of the result was unexpected, Summerland played well and put together a full 60 minutes in the shutout effort that saw Matt Kostiw stop 35 Coyotes’ shots and Wyatt Gale record a hat trick. Calvin Hadley and Michael McEachern also chipped in with goals to help the cause.

Highlights: Game 1

Game 2 was a little different story. As a matter of fact it was a MUCH different story, as this time it was Bobby Larue with a hat trick that sent the Coyotes to a 6-2 victory to even the series at one. The Summerland Steam played a good 35 minutes in Game 2, but the 25 minutes they took off cost them the game. Larue was able to record a natural hat trick within 9 minutes of the second period to turn a 2-1 game into a 5-1 game very quickly.

The ‘Yotes would add one in the third, as would the Steam, to round out the scoring at 6-2. Jarrett Malchow and Wyatt Gale scored the tallies for Summerland, while Carter Shannon, Judd Repole, and Drew Carter added to Larue’s hat trick to round out the scoring.

Game 2 Highlights:

In Game #3 we saw much of the same from both teams. Summerland opened the scoring thanks to Calvin Hadley just 1:57 into the game. Dan Stone would then capitalize on a Coyotes power play to even the score at one. Stone would strike again, this time shorthanded, and put the ‘Yotes up 2-1 after a period. The Coyotes would then take advantage of a 9 minute lapse in the second period, much like they did in Game #2, as Rainer Glimpel put them up 3-1 just :09 into the second period.

Josh Pilon would pull Summerland back within one on the power play, but that was as close as Summerland would get. It took just :06 for the Coyotes to score twice near the midway mark of the second period, as Hunter Johnson and Judd Repole scored back to back to again send a 3-1 game to a 5-1 game very quickly. Just 3:20 later, Reid Wilson would score at the end of a Coyotes power play to make it 6-1.

Summerland would show a little push-back in the third, closing the gap to 6-4 on goals from Josh Pilon (his second of the night) and Andrew York.

Game 3 Highlights:

In Game 4 it was a different story again, as Summerland was able to put a full 60 minutes together. They gave up the first goal, a power play goal to Rainer Glimpel, but had a great first period and took the lead with two goals in 1:11 from Calvin Hadley and Braden Eliuk. The ‘Yotes would tie things up before the end of the first period, as Reid Wilson beat Steam starter Matt Huber on the power play from the slot.

The Coyotes scored four times in Game 4, three of which came on the power play. The ‘Yotes went 3-for-3 on the power play.

Riley Pettitt would put the Steam back out to a 3-2 lead just :12 seconds into the second period. It would spell the end for Coyotes’ starter Stephen Heslop, who had zero to do with any of the three goals scored on him in Game 1. The first, a bomb from Calvin Hadley, found it’s way through traffic and past Heslop. The second was a shot from the slot that hit a body in front, then hit Heslop, and fell to Braden Eliuk who knocked it in. The third, Pettitt’s goal that spelled the end for Heslop, was a giveaway by the Coyotes in their own end of the ice that resulted in a clean shot for Pettitt from 12 feet out.

Brett Soles would enter the game, and Heslop would leave the bench completely for the duration of the second period. Personally, I didn’t think Heslop deserved to be given the hook, but Head Coach and General Manager Ken Law obviously saw differently and wanted to make the change.

The change worked, as the Coyotes drew even just 5 minutes later thanks to some hard work from Hunter Johnson. Johnson fought off two Steam defenders behind the net, stepped out in front and had two whacks at a loose puck to beat Huber and tie the score.

The ‘Yotes would then take the lead with another power play goal, their third of the night, courtesy of Cody Allen. Allen ran a little interference on the way into the zone, knocking down Calvin Hadley. That allowed the ‘Yotes to get set up, and Allen found himself at the end of the hammer that put the Coyotes up 4-3 with 11:18 remaining.

Summerland would answer back by carrying the play, and then eventually having a shot find it’s way through off the stick of Adam Jones. Jones’ first of the playoffs brought the game to a 4-4 tie, and we would require overtime to solve Game 4.

In overtime, it was the Steam’s game to lose. They outshot the Coyotes 5-1 in the extra frame, and the fifth and final shot came off the stick of one Jack Mills, to send Summerland to a 5-4 overtime win and a 2-2 series tie.

Game 4 Highlights:

 

Series thoughts:

  • At least one of the teams has made a goaltending change in each of the first four games of the series. In Games 1 & 4 it was the Coyotes, in Games 2 & 3 it was the Summerland Steam.
  • At 5-on-5 Summerland’s been the better team in the last couple of games. The Coyotes power play has been “violently effective” as Mike Swanson put it in our game 4 broadcast, going 6/22 overall but 5/9 in Games 3 and 4 in Summerland.
  • The Steam, meanwhile, have gone 6/19 on the power play throughout the first four games of the series.
  • It’s been tough to pinpoint this series, as a whole. All four goaltenders have played quite a bit, and both teams have shown cracks in their game.
  • Both teams have seen their depth come to play. The Coyotes top line has been rolling ever since the return of Bobby Larue in Game 2, but they’ve also had the likes of Hunter Johnson, Carter Shannon, Colin Bell, and Judd Repole contributing at key times as well.
  • For Summerland the Yukon Line has been their best, no doubt, but Braden Eliuk is tied for the league lead in points with 13 in the playoffs. He, Jack Mills and Paulsen Lautard have been steadily getting better and better as the playoffs continue, and Josh Pilon has proven to be a fantastic add for Head Coach John Depourcq and the Summerland Steam down the stretch and now into the playoffs.
  • If Summerland is going to be successful in what is now a best of 3 series with one of the best teams in the KIJHL, they can’t take periods off like they did in games 2 and 3. A full 60 minute effort has proven that they can hang with the Coyotes and stand as one of the top 5 or 6 teams in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. They just have to be consistent in their 60 minute effort.
  • In MY opinion and nobody else’s, they’ve played a full 60 minutes in 5 of 12 games against the Coyotes this season. In those games, they’re 3-2. They played a full 60 on November 28th and lost 5-2 (with 2 empty net goals). They played a full 60 on January 10th and they won 3-2. They played a full 60 on February 5th and lost 2-1.
  • In the playoffs, they’ve played 2 of 4 games with a full 60 minute effort, and won both of them. 5-0 and 5-4 in OT.
  • Game 5 goes Saturday night at 8:35PM at the Sun Bowl. Game 6 goes Sunday at 6:30PM at the Summerland Arena. That broadcast will be my third of the day, as I will have the call on Fasthockey.com of the CSSHL Bantam Prep and Elite 15s Finals of the CSSHL playoffs at the SOEC, so bear with my surely scratchy voice.

 

GALE’S HAT TRICK, KOSTIW’S GOOSE EGG LEAD STEAM TO GAME 1 VICTORY

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Matt Kostiw makes a save and swallows a rebound in 2nd period action of Game 1 of the Okanagan Division Final on Saturday night. Photo: Jen Jensen, Osoyoos Coyotes

 

 

On Saturday night, the Summerland Steam headed south down highway 97 to start the Okanagan Division Final against the Osoyoos Coyotes. If the season series was any indication of what we were going to see in Game 1 we were set for a fast paced, hard fought game. We got that, it was just a different result than fans have come to expect from this season series.

In the regular season, the Coyotes won 7 of 8, but in Game 1 of the Okanagan Division Final the Summerland Steam came out ready to change that. What ensued was a full 60 minute effort from the visitors that saw them up 2-0 after a period, despite being outshot 17-6 in the first frame.

Wyatt Gale got the Steam on the board with 10:51 remaining in the opening frame thanks to some good forecheck pressure. Gale did a good job to get the puck into the Coyotes zone, and forced the retreating defenseman to make a rush play up the right wing boards. Steam captain Paulsen Lautard was able to beat his man there, and wrap the puck back behind the Coyotes’ net. Riley Pettitt retrieved the loose puck, and passed it to Gale who beat Coyotes starter Brett Soles to give the Steam a 1-0 lead.

Michael McEachern would add to the lead just over three minutes later, as he found himself in the slot with the puck and an open net thanks to a lucky bounce. After Braden Eliuk (the birthday boy) won a draw in the offensive zone, Keenan Scott had a shot at net from the right point. It bounced off a player in the circle, and fell right to McEachern who beat Soles to give Summerland a 2-0 lead.

It’s the fourth game in a row Summerland found themselves out to a 2-0 lead, and this time they were able to hold onto it. They would get out of the remainder of period one with the lead, and that was thanks in large part to Matt Kostiw in the Summerland goal. He was outstanding in the first period, making all 17 shots look very, very easy to stop.

He was equally good in the second, stopping all nine shots that came his way while Summerland added another goal. Stephen Heslop came out to replace Brett Soles to start period two, after Soles allowed two on six shots in the first period. Summerland would score the third goal of the night with 4:26 remaining in the second. This one counted as a power play goal, Wyatt Gale’s second of the night, as he beat Heslop with a backhand up into the top corner. The puck was worked around on the Steam power play, and an eventual shot on net was stopped by Heslop. The puck fell right at the feet of Gale at the right post, and he was able to lift it up and over a sprawling Heslop to extend the Summerland lead to 3-0.

They would take that lead to the third, thanks again to Matt Kostiw who made several key saves in the second to keep the Coyotes scoreless. He would continue “seeing beach balls” in the third, stopping all 35 shots he saw in the game for a shutout.

Summerland would clamp down defensively in the third, and add two more goals to their cause for a 5-0 victory. Gale would record his hat trick with 11:37 remaining in the period, making a nifty little move in front of Heslop. Calvin Hadley would then step into a shot from the point in the closing moments, and beat Heslop with a low, hard shot to close out the scoring at 5-0.

 

Thoughts:

  • Summerland went into Osoyoos in Game 1 with a checklist, and ticked all their boxes. They played a full 60, they scored first, they were solid defensively, and they were (semi) disciplined. They took 6 minor penalties, but were able to kill all of them without giving up too many opportunities. Their best players were their best players on this night, and it showed.
  • The Steam played a near perfect road game on Saturday night. They weathered the storm in the first period, capitalized on their opportunities, and kept the Coyotes in check for the majority of the night. By my count the Coyotes only had one odd man rush all night long, and Matt Kostiw made sure he snuffed that out.
  • Summerland did a good job to keep the Coyotes to the outside. They only gave up 6 high quality scoring chances from the ‘high danger area’ in front of Matt Kostiw, and he was up to task on all of them. The majority of Osoyoos’ shots came from the outside, and Kostiw was to task.
  • Summerland did great work to not allow second chance opportunities. They were able to clear the front of their net of both bodies and pucks, and not allow Kostiw’s heart rate to jump when he did let out a rare rebound.
  • Kostiw continues to be a pillar of strength for the Summerland Steam. He’s been very good since joining the Steam on January 10th, and has been stellar to the tune of a 1.42 Goals Against Average and a .952% Save Percentage. He was named the series star for Summerland in round 1, and he looks to be continuing that in round 2.
  • Alex Williams has been by far Summerland’s top defenseman through 7 playoff games. Often undervalued and not talked about a whole lot, Williams brings a ‘workmanlike’ attitude to his game. He goes out, gets the job done, and gets little to no credit because it’s a consistent effort. He keeps his teammates in check, stands up for them when they need to be stood up for, and answers the bell whenever he needs to.
  • Jarrett Malchow took a massive open ice hit from Cody Allen at the start of the third period. With Summerland up 3-0 he left the ice, and did not return to the game. As far as I know he’ll be available to the coaching staff for Game 2 on Monday night and there are no lasting effects.
  • Game 2 goes Monday night at 7:35 at the Sun Bowl. Summerland will surely look to do the same thing as they did in Game 1, and see if they can come home for Games 3 & 4 up 2-0 in the series.

STEAM, COYOTES RENEW #97SOUTH RIVALRY IN OKANAGAN DIVISION FINAL

Well, here we are again. Almost exactly one year removed from last season’s Okanagan Division Final, and the same two teams are getting set for it again. The rivalry between the Summerland Steam and the Osoyoos Coyotes is a great one, and it’s playoff series’ like the one from last season that make it so. These two teams have good games almost every time they play, despite some of the scores, and last year’s playoffs were a great look into what this season series can really turn into. Let’s go back for a second:

The 2015 KIJHL Okanagan Division Final was one that saw the Coyotes jump out to a 2-0 series lead on a tired Summerland Steam club. The Steam, having played a hard fought first round series with the Kelowna Chiefs that ended in a 2-1 Game 7 victory, had just one day to prepare for the Okanagan Division Final. They hung in the first game, losing 4-2 by way of two shorthanded goals from Coyotes Forward Brett Jewell.

Summerland then hit the wall in Game 2, and took an 8-2 defeat in their 9th game in 12 days. They would regroup in Game 3, taking a 3-2 victory in triple overtime on a goal from Cole Woodliffe. Paulsen Lautard scored twice in that Game 3. In Game 4, Summerland broke out for a 6-2 victory to tie the series at 2, and showed some life with a complete effort top to bottom.

The effort was for naught, though, as Osoyoos would win Game 5 at home by a 5-2 score, and then come back to Summerland and derail the Steam with a 3-2 game 6 series clincher. Colin Bell scored twice in that game, and ultimately sent the Coyotes through to the Conference Final where they were defeated in five games by the Kamloops Storm.

Great rivalries like the one between the Steam and the Coyotes are born from series’ like these. Two teams who are close in proximity playing one another potentially seven times in a ten day period, to go along with the eight times they’ve already faced off in the regular season.

These are two unbelievably talented hockey teams, and playoff hockey seems to bring out the best in them. On one side you’ve got the Coyotes, an extremely skilled, deep hockey team that brings their best on a consistent basis. Especially, it seems, against the Summerland Steam. They’re proven winners and are extremely well coached and disciplined, and are as close as you’re going to find to a ‘juggernaut’ in the KIJHL.

On the other hand you’ve got those Steam, who are equally as deep and talented, they just have trouble beating the Osoyoos Coyotes. In 52 games during the 2015/16 season the Summerland Steam lost 16 games in regulation time. 7 of those came to the Osoyoos Coyotes. That means their win% against the rest of the KIJHL was .727%. That’s an elite number, and their only stumbling block now sits in front of them in the Okanagan Division Final of the KIJHL Playoffs.

During the 2015/16 KIJHL Regular Season the Steam were only able to beat the Coyotes once, on January 10th, by a score of 3-2. That victory came on the strength of a Calvin Hadley goal with 5:59 to play that sent Summerland to a comeback victory.

It was their only win in eight tries against the Okanagan Division and Okanagan Shuswap Conference Champion Coyotes, but it was also their only COMPLETE effort of the season series. When you look at the scores from the season series in 2015/16, it looks as though Osoyoos ran away with all but two games. The score, however, doesn’t always tell all and in this case when you look at boxscores it just tells you that Summerland had mental lapses and penalty trouble in 6 of 8 regular season meetings.

In the only two close games, Summerland allowed just two goals in each, and didn’t have the 6 or 8 minute letdown they’ve been prone to against the Coyotes in the past. In 3 of the 4 meetings between Summerland and Osoyoos that I had the privilege to call in 2015/16 the scores were close until the third period.

In their first 3 visits to the Summerland Arena, Osoyoos beat Summerland 6-2, 4-0, and 7-2. 13 of the Coyotes 17 goals came in the third period at the Summerland Arena, which tells you something. As far as totals go, the Coyotes scored exactly 50% of their 38 goals in the series in third periods. 19 of them. Whether fatigue or otherwise, Summerland’s third periods have to be better against the Coyotes. Simple as that.

If Summerland can do some of these things, they’re going to hang in this series just fine. If not, it could be a pretty short one. Five things that I think (my opinion, no one else’s) will make them successful against a very deep, talented, well coached Osoyoos Coyotes team are these:

  1. Limit Power Play Opportunities – If Summerland can stay disciplined, find the physical line and stay on it without stepping over, they could be in good shape.
  2. Play A Full 60 – This is one of those things that’s said it seems like every night, regardless of who the opponent is. For Summerland it’s important to get out to a good start, and carry that through the game by using 4 lines and 6 D.
  3. Contain Coyotes’ Top Line – The line of Rainer Glimpel, Bobby Larue, and Braeden Tuck have absolutely dominated the Summerland Steam this season. They’ve combined for 41 points in eight games. Glimpel (5G+12A in season series) led the KIJHL in scoring with 85 points (30G, 55A) during the regular season, and is in my opinion the smartest hockey player in the KIJHL. Summerland will have to find a way to limit the damage he does to them in this series if they want to be successful
  4. Use The Forecheck – The Summerland Steam are at their best when they use their combination of size, speed and skill for the greater good. By the greater good I mean getting the puck deep, using their speed to close on opposing defenseman and winning puck battles down low.
  5. Best on Best – In this series, the Summerland Steam’s best players NEED to be their best players if they want a shot to beat the Osoyoos Coyotes. Watching them all year and most of these players in this series for the past couple of years, I can tell you that when Summerland plays the system their coaching staff has in place, they hang with these Coyotes. They can handle these Coyotes, and they might even have a chance to beat these Coyotes. They have it in them, they just have to bring it and bring it from the start.

     The difference between the Regular Season and the Playoffs is paramount. There is no time to recover from one bad game, and heck, it’s tough to even recover from one bad period. Especially against the best team in the conference and the two-time defending conference champions.

Everything in the playoffs is amplified, and it makes for better games, better competition, and eventually turns these young men into better people and better hockey players. It’s important to not overthink things, and although hard to do, we’re still talking about 16-20 year old kids doing what they love to do, and that’s to play hockey.

So have a look at the schedule, grab your tickets, and let’s get this thing going.

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