Out of the gate, a Thursday night game right after a 12 day layoff started just how you’d expect. Quiet. Both the Summerland Steam and the Princeton Posse, playing their first games in 12 and 13 days respectively after the Christmas break, were tentative in the first ten minutes. The two starting goaltenders, Jared Breitkreuz for Summerland and Bobby Milligan for Princeton, didn’t face too much action in the first ten minutes.
Once that ten minute mark hit, Summerland in particular woke up. They poured 16 shots on net in total, nearly all in the second half of the period, while Princton managed 11. Both goalies were up to the challenge though, keeping it a 0-0 game after a period.
In the second period the goals started to come in quick succession. The two teams combined for 6 goals in the period, 5 by Summerland, and 5 of the 6 goals came in a 7 minute span. Andrew York started things off with his 3rd of the season, banging in a rebound off a shot by Konsta Jaske from the point. York’s third of the season and first of two on the night, assists by Jaske and Scott Robinson, would open the scoring and put Summerland out to a 1-0 lead.
Jarrett Malchow would then pound home a power play goal for his first of two on the night to give Summerland a 2-0 lead. After good work to move the puck up ice quickly on the power play, Riley Pettitt circled the zone and fed the puck to Cole Williams at the point. He found Malchow on the back side, where he was able to rifle a shot through Bobby Milligan for his 11th goal of the season.
York would then add his second of the night and fourth of the season to put the Steam up 3-0 with a great shot over the blocker of Milligan in the Posse goal. After the puck was moved out of the Summerland zone, Scott Robinson skated up the right wing side with it. The big man displayed his great set of hands by sending a perfect saucer pass into the slot for York to skate onto, and he made no mistake.
Off the ensuing face off it was Princeton’s turn to get in on the scoring fun. Princeton did good work to force a turnover in the neutral zone, and we’re able to sneak in on a 2-on-1. Anderson Saarela would be on the business end, depositing his 5th past a sliding Jared Breitkreuz to get Princeton on the board and within two.
That would last a matter of seconds, as Jarrett Malchow would collect his second of the night and 12th of the season to put the Steam up 4-1 and restore the three goal lead. Malchow was able to find some room in the slot after a good cycle, and take a pass from Riley Pettitt. Malchow made no mistake, dropping to a knee and going high on Milligan.
As the period wound down, most in the building thougt the Steam would go to the dressing room after two periods with a 4-1 lead. With :10 on the clock and the puck in his own zone, Alex Williams managed to find Pettitt up theft wing side with a stretch pass. Pettitt then fed through to a streaking Wyatt Gale, who found himself on a clear cut breakaway from the blue line in. The team leader in goals, Gale made no error, making a moves and sliding the puck through the five-hole with just :3.6 left on the clock in the second period for his 16th of the year.
The third was much like the first two periods, minus the goals there were in the second. Summerland continued to force shots on goal, but were only successful once in scoring. That goal went to Calvin Rout on a power play near the midway mark of the period. Riley Pettitt would collect his fourth assist of the night as he fed the puck down low to Wyatt Gale. Gale then found Rout in the slot where he was able to beat a helpless Milligan for his 8th of the season to round out a 6-1 final score.
Jared Breitkreuz picked up his 6th win of the season, stopping 23 of 24 shots directed his way. Bobby Milligan took the loss, stopping 43 of 49 Summerland shots. Despite the six goals against, Milligan had a decent night and was the reason Summerland didn’t hang a double digit number on the scoreboard.
The win moved Summerland to 20 wins and 44 points on the season, 5 points back of the Osoyoos Coyotes and 10 points clear of the Kelowna Chiefs in the Okanagan Division standings. The three will see a lot of one another down the stretch as Summerland sees Kelowna and Osoyoos four more times each, and Kelowna and Osoyoos see each other three more times as well. Lots will be decided in those divisional games, and it should be a fun finish to what’s already been a fun season.
With the win over the Princeton Posse, Summerland finishes the month of December with a 4-1-1-1 record in 7 completed games, and lead 4-1 in that December 2nd game that was postponed due to a power outage against the North Okanagan Knights. That game, with 4:01 remaining in that second period, will likely be complet on January 14th when Summerland makes their next trip to Armstrong to play th Knights at the Nor-Val Centre. It is likely that they will play the remaining 24:01 of the December 2nd game, and then proceed like it is a normal game day.
The 14th of January is also the day of the 2017 KIJHL Top Prospects Showcase in Kelowna, BC. In this game, scouts and team representatives from the Jr A and CHL ranks will watch the best ’99 and ’00 born players the KIJHL has to offer show their best in a best-on-best scenario. It is a 2pm start time at Rutland Arena, and will complicate matters in Armstrong as both teams have players taking part.
Jason Shaigec, Dean Whitcomb, and Brady Marzocco will play from the North Okanagan Knights, and Morey Babakaiff will take part representing the Summerland Steam. It will be interesting to see if any make the return trip to Armstrong to play for their club teams that night.
Coming into January the Steam have 16 games left to complete, including the December 2nd affair. Half of those games will come against the Kelowna Chiefs and the Osoyoos Coyotes. If the Steam can manage a .500% win percentage in their final 16 games, they’ll surely start the playoffs on home ice. If they can manage to win their head to heads with Osoyoos, in particular, there is a good chance they could bring home a division championship banner at the end of the regular season and potentially a conference championship banner as well.
As of the morning of December 31, the Steam trail only the Coyotes in the conference standings and are 4th in the KIJHL with a .710% win percentage. The team is currently in a stretch that sees them play just one game, Thursday night’s 6-1 win over Princeton, over a 20 day period. They’ll get back to their regular workload starting January 6th when they play host to the Kelowna Chiefs at the Summerland Arena.
We hope you had a great holiday season with your family, and we’re happy to have you along for the stretch drive to the playoffs!