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.

 

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