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.
- 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.