Steam Open Season With Win Over Western Champs

Leading into the 2016/17 KIJHL season, Head Coach John Depourcq and GM Gregg Wilson of the Summerland Steam were pretty confident that they’d put together a good mix of players. Those players wasted no time showing what they could do, as they opened their schedule with a statement win to the tune of 7-2 over the defending KIJHL, Cyclone Taylor Cup, and Keystone Cup Champion 100 Mile House Wranglers.

I had a chance to talk with both coaches prior to puck drop. Both were excited about what they had and lauded the ‘process’ of getting the season started. Both interviews can be found on soundcloud.com or below:

John Depourcq:

Dale Hladun:

With upwards of 15 new faces in their lineup, the Wranglers struggled to keep pace with the veteran laden lineup of the Summerland Steam on Friday night. From the start the pace was quick, and Wranglers goaltender Clay Stephenson was busy. He faced twelve shots in the first period, and stopped eleven. The only shot to elude him was a screened shot from Calvin Rout, who walked to the middle at the top of the circle and rifled a shot high over the glove of a stunned Stephenson. Rout’s first of the season gave Summerland a 1-0 lead heading to the first intermission.

The Steam picked up right where they left off to start the second, as Wyatt Gale would notch his first of the year while shorthanded just over five minutes into the period. With rookie Mathew Alcorn in the penalty box for high sticking, Gale and teammate Steven Fiust forced a turnover at the Wranglers’ blue line and forced it deep into the offensive zone. While Fiust raced towards the loose puck, Gale beat his man to the front of the net and met the pass from Fiust for the chip in.

With the score 2-0, the Wranglers showed a little push-back and tested Steam starter Matthew Huber. Huber, a returnee from last year, was solid as he needed to be on Friday night, stopping 23 of 25 shots he faced on the night.

Steam rookie Everett Scherger would convert a beautiful pass from fellow rookie Morey Babakaiff to make it 3-0 Steam before the Wranglers would beat Huber. Just :08 after Scherger notched his first KIJHL goal, Justin Bond would break the goose egg with a beautiful shot low to the glove side of Huber to cut the lead to 3-1.

That two goal lead would last just fifteen seconds for the Steam though, as Riley Pettitt would restore the three goal lead with his first of the season. Jarrett Malchow did great work to get the puck into the offensive zone, where Pettitt beat his man to the loose puck and chopped it past Stephenson to make it 4-1 for the home team.

Pettitt would then convert his second of the game on the powerplay, pulling the puck out of a pile in the corner, sliding off the wall and beating Stephenson over the glove to put the Steam up 5-1 going to the third period. Josh Pilon would put some ink on the scoresheet early in the third, converting a beautiful pass from teammate Steven Fiust to put the Steam up 6-1 and essentially ice the victory.

After Garrett Hilton scored for the Wranglers to make the score 6-2, Riley Pettitt would complete his hat trick by beating Stephenson high over the glove to complete the scoring at 7-2 with exactly a minute remaining.

 

Here’s the Highlights:

The home team was in control for the majority of Opening Night, and there was plenty of excitement in the building on a night where Summerland IGA was providing a barbecue for ticket holders and collecting donations for the Summerland Community Food Bank. The Steam will try and build on a positive start to the season when they take the ice again next Friday night at home against the Revelstoke Grizzlies.

 

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