Photo published by the Revelstoke Review shows Steam defender Konsta Jaske exiting the ice after taking a cheap shot and tussling with Revelstoke’s Dace Norman.
It’s not too often that early in a KIJHL season you can say two teams from different divisions have seen each other twice and officially ‘have a hate on’ for one another. That’s the case with the Summerland Steam and the Revelstoke Grizzlies. For whatever reason, the two teams don’t like each other, and it’s showed in both games they’ve gone head to head so far this season.
Prior to their first of two visits to the Revelstoke Forum this season, the Summerland Steam continued to roll with a Friday night victory at home against the Princeton Posse.
The Posse have been an enigma for the Steam so far this season. Two of Summerland’s four losses, one in each regulation and overtime, have come to the Okanagan Division’s fifth place team, and it hasn’t been for lack of trying. In 3 regular season games against the Posse thus far, the Steam have led on the shot clock from start to finish, and have had no luck beating Posse goaltender Chandler Billinghurst. In two previous meetings to Friday night, the league’s highest scoring team heading into the weekend had only beaten Billinghurst twice.
On Friday night, they were able to beat the Posse starting goaltender three times on route to a 3-1 victory. Jeremy Hite scored his first as a member of the Steam just 3:15 into the first period, getting Summerland the goal they so badly missed out on 5 days prior on thanksgiving Sunday against the same Posse team.
In that game last Sunday, Summerland was thwarted early and then got unlucky. On Friday night, they got that early goal and kept their foot on the gas. Billinghurst, however, was up to the task, making life increasingly difficult for the Steam. Summerland outshot Princeton 18-10 through 2 periods, but still only had a 1-0 lead.
Just 41 seconds into the third period, Tristyn Olson (who else) got the Posse back to even, beating two Steam defenders and then Jared Breitkreuz with a nifty move to tie the score. The tie would last just over two minutes, as the Summerland power play would strike at the 17:03 mark. Michael MacLean potted his second of the season, banging in a rebound off a shot from Steam newcomer Konsta Jaske to give the Steam the lead.
Immediately following the goal, on the ensuing face-off, former Penticton Minor Hockey Midget AA Vees teammates Morey Babakaiff (Summerland) and Nick Graham (Princeton) decided to drop the mitts. They’d been after one another for the better part of two games, and finally decided to settle it with fists. It didn’t go well for Nick Graham, as they squared off, locked up, and Graham was promptly dropped by the heavy right hand of Babakaiff. Both were assessed 5 minute majors for fighting, game misconducts, and additional game misconducts for a ‘staged fight’ by referee Edwin Weightman. Both now sit their team’s next three games for the offence.
A minute and twenty six seconds after the MacLean goal, Josh Pilon netted his sixth of the season on a nifty tuck play to make the game 3-1. The Steam would hold the two goal lead until the final minute when Owen Reith scored his sixth of the year to pull the Posse within one. That would be as close as Princeton would get, as Summerland would skate away with a 3-2 victory.
Summerland took their two points, and headed for Revelstoke on Saturday where a whole different can of worms was opened. The Steam got off to another good start, opening the scoring courtesy of Calvin Rout’s third of the season and first of two on the night. Konsta Jaske would increase the Steam lead to two just over halfway through the first period with his first KIJHL goal, a power play goal, in only his 2nd game.
In the second period when things got heated in a hurry, Jaske was right in the middle of it. Not because he chose to, but because he was targeted. Both teams were at each other from the opening faceoff of the second period, and after Calvin Rout put the Steam up 3-0 just 1:55 into the period while already on the power play, the parade to the penalty box intensified. It culminated at 8:06 of the second period, when Revelstoke’s Dace Norman took a cheap shot, and Jaske was on the receiving end.
With the puck coming out from behind the Steam goal and up the right wing boards, Jaske was expecting a pass. As it went past him, Norman charged 5 strides across the blue line to target the head of the Finnish-American Steam defender, sending him flying in a heap into the side boards. No arm went up in the air from anybody wearing stripes, and Summerland’s Andrew York took exception. Though much, MUCH smaller than Norman, York confronted the Revelstoke player only to be met by two other Grizzlies. Jaske then got involed, as did Steam Interim Captain Riley Pettitt, and the ensuing melee caused a long delay.
After the delay finally ended and we started playing hockey again, Summerland looked unphased. The visitors put their focus solely on the game of hockey in order to come away with a 5-2 victory. Braden Eliuk scored a pretty power play goal to make the score 4-1 Summerland, and after Jon Vandermolen made it 4-2, Everett Scherger swatted a puck the length of the ice into an empty net to seal the deal at 5-2.
What all the goonery means is that in addition to the injuries to Alex Williams, Wyatt Gale and Jarrett Malchow, the Steam will be without Riley Pettitt and Konsta Jaske next weekend against the Osoyoos Coyotes and the North Okanagan Knights. Both players are big losses for two important divisional road games on Friday and Saturday.
The Steam continue to lead their division AND the Okanagan Shuswap Conference, right now by 3 points in the conference and 4 points in the division, but they’ve played more games than everyone else. Osoyoos, who sits in second place in the Okanagan Divison, is 4 points back with 3 games in hand. It may still be early in the KIJHL Season, but all of a sudden the head to head matchups within the division are becoming vitally important in deciding who is going to take home the banner at the end of the regular season.
Thirteen games into the 2016/17 KIJHL Season, it’s interesting to look at the Summerland Steam’s stat line. A team that is usually very good against their division, Summerland is just 2-2-0-2 in 6 games against divisional opponents. They are, however, displaying some form of dominance over the Doug Birks Division with a 7-0-0-0 record.
Their 9-2-0-2 record is impressive in itself, but it becomes even more impressive when you notice that Summerland has been without one key piece of their lineup or another for all but the first game of the season. Steam captain Alex Williams has been injured for the majority of the first part of the season, as have 20 year-old forwards Wyatt Gale and Jarrett Malchow. Steven Fiust, Calvin Hadley, Jeremy Hite, and a host of others have also missed time due to injury early on.
“It’s good to go through this now,” says Steam GM Gregg Wilson when asked about the injury bug, “It gets everybody in the game, maybe playing a role they wouldn’t otherwise get to play, and we get to come together as a team to try and keep winning while we go through this part of the schedule. Every team gets hit with injuries throughout the season, and I think it’s something that if well managed, helps bring a team together as the season goes on and builds chemistry.”
Wilson went on to say that it’s a possibility that the Steam will get Jarrett Malchow and Wyatt Gale back sooner rather than later, but said there is no timeline for captain Alex Williams.
The Steam will soldier on, heading to the desert for the first time this season on Friday night to face the Osoyoos Coyotes. They’ll then go North on Saturday to Armstrong’s to play the North Okanagan Knights. Summerland will play their next home game Friday, October 29 vs the North Okanagan Knights at 730 at the Summerland Arena.