York, Malchow Lead Summerland to Thursday Night Victory

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. 

Highlights:

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!

Steam Ready for Stretch Drive, Visit from Princeton Posse Thursday

19-7-1-3.

That’s where the Summerland Steam stand as the players take a much needed twelve days off. Sitting second in their division and among the league’s elite in both points and wins, the Steam have to be pretty happy with where they sit as they go into the break despite the final weekend.

The Steam finished their pre-Christmas schedule with an overtime loss in Kamloops on December 16th, and a comeback against Kelowna that came up just short on December 17th. Both games saw Summerland play well enough to win, but in both games small lapses cost them.

In Kamloops they got down 3-1 after two periods, and did good work in (very) small spaces at the Kamloops Memorial Arena to battle back and get a point. Everett Scherger (7), Michael MacLean (3), and Morey Babakaiff (2) scored for Summerland, while Evan Walls (11, 12) scored twice for the Storm. Former Sicamous Eagles’ captain Bryce MacDonald (3) also tallied for the Storm in regulation, and Devin Leduc (10) scored the OT winner. Matt Huber made 33 saves on the night, while Jason Sandhu stopped 37 at the other end of the ice for the Storm.

A night later, things got off to a much better start for Summerland as Ben Dietrich-Scammell (12) and Josh Pilon (13) sent the Steam to a 2-0 lead in Rutland against the Kelowna Chiefs. Kelowna, dressing only 15 skaters and really only using 12, showed great pushback near the end of the first period when Jason Village found a loose puck in the slot to get the Chiefs within one with his 12th of the year.

To start the second period, the Steam came out flat and the Chiefs picked up right where they left off. Josh Kobelka (7) and Jaden McNulty (4) were both left open on the ‘weak’ side of the ice, where pucks found them and then the back of the net just 4:06 apart to give the Chiefs a 3-2 lead.

Kobelka (8) would then add his second early in the third, followed by Village’s second (13) with 6:32 remaining to push the Chiefs ahead 5-2. Village’s second of the night was debated heavily, as it hit the back bar of the net and shot out so fast the referee had no idea it had gone in the net. While Kelowna celebrated Summerland was able to head down the ice during mass confusion on a 5-on-0, but were also confused and were unable to score. Play would go on for nearly 3 full minutes before a stoppage allowed referee Dustin Minty to confer with his linesman, call it a goal, and reset the clock to 6:32. Some around the arena said ‘we’d rather be up 4-2 with 3:00 left’, but the right call was made.

Off the ensuing faceoff, Steam captain Alex Williams fed the puck forward to Riley Pettitt, who used his speed to create a 2-on-1 and feed Wyatt Gale. Gale made a nifty move to beat the defender to the puck and pull it around a sprawling Tanner Marshall to get the Steam back within two and record his team leading 15th goal of the year.

Jarrett Malchow (10) would then get the Steam within one with 3:40 to go, scoring with a laser-beam one timer just :06 into a Steam power play. They would get another power play late to try and tie things up, but were unsuccessful and took a 5-4 defeat heading into the break.

After the game most went their separate ways for what is in total a 12 day break over the Christmas holidays. It’s a much needed one, as the Steam have played a lot of hockey thus far and have a lot left to go. The road that remains between them and the playoffs kicks off on December 29th, yes, a Thursday, when we reconvene at the Summerland Arena for the Steam to faceoff against the Princeton Posse.

It’s been a largely successful start to the KIJHL season for the Steam, and they should be proud of where they stand with 2/3 of the season passed by. Summerland sits perched among the league’s (and the province’s) elite. As you can see by the below images, the Steam are keeping pace with the most elite teams in the province, even after picking up just one of four possible points in their final two contests before the break.

screenshot_20161223-135724

Courtesy of Kimberley Dynamiters fan and blogger extraordinaire, Joshua Lockhart

 

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Courtesy of Campbell River Storm Play-By-Pay man Mark Berry. Rankings done every week

 

Prior to the Christmas holiday break, the Steam have been working hard to establish an identity. An extremely talented and deep hockey team, Summerland has all the tools to have success no matter who the opponent is, provided they put in a full 60 minutes. Right now they’re in the top10 in the province in win%,  and in a tie with the Creston Valley Thunder Cats for 4th in Josh Lockhart’s KIJHL Power Rankings.

The Summerland Steam have been playing remarkably good hockey during the first 2/3 of the KIJHL season, and deserve their ranking among the top teams in the province. Equipped with four forward lines that can both score and defend, six defensemen that play specific roles and do so very well, and two goaltenders that both sit in the top 10 in the KIJHL goaltending ranks, Summerland just needs to continue to tow the line.

They lead the league on the PK, they’re in the top 10 on the power play and in the ‘goals for per game’ category, and 3rd in the KIJHL in team Goals Agaist Average. As far as standings are concerned the Steam sit with 42 points, 5th in the KIJHL and 2nd in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference only to Osoyoos, who has 45. Summerland is also second in the KIJHL and first in their conference in home winning percentage at .800% with a 12-1-1-1 record. Through the first 2/3 of the KIJHL season and 15 of their 23 home games played, Summerland has only lost once in regulation. It came at the hands of the Princeton Posse, 3-1, on Thanksgiving Sunday. Only the Kimberley Dynamiters have a better home record at 16-1 through 17 home games played prior to the Christmas break.

Coming out of the break, Summerland will face a Princeton Posse team that is scrapping for their playoff lives already. The Posse got off to a rough start this KIJHL season, going 5-15-0-2 in 22 games under Head Coach/GM Geoff Goodman and Assistant Coach Lance Vaillancourt. On November 15th the pair were relieved of their duties and replaced by new Head Coach and GM Mark McNaughton.

In nine games since McNaughton took over the reigns of the Posse wagon, the team has responded by going 3-4-1-1. Though not a sterling record, you’ll notice they’ve accumulated points in more games than not since the takeover of a new regime. A big reason for this is their goaltending.

Yes, the Princeton Posse have a goals against average of 3.45 as a team. However, starting goaltender Chandler Billinghurst is the reason (in my mind) that they win games. On a team that has eight wins in 31 tries, Billinghurst carries a personal goals against average of 2.42. That stat in itself is good, but then you notice the save percentage of near 93.5% that Billinghurst keeps while seeing an average of nearly 38 shots per start in 15 starts.

Two of the Posse’s eight wins on the season have come against Summerland. One in overtime by a score of 3-2 and one in regulation in Summerland 3-1 on October 9th. Both of these games belonged to Billinghurst, and he’s somebody Summerland will have to watch for on Thursday night when the two teams meet again in Summerland for the final time this season.

The Steam have run into trouble with Princeton’s speed in five meetings so far this season. They’ve won three of those five meetings, but have struggled to contain the likes of Tristyn Olson and Owen Reith who generate a ton of speed for the Posse and have an ability to beat defenders to the outside.

Summerland will need to make sure they’re quick out of their zone on Thursday night and not allow Princeton any ‘second chance’ opportunities. They’ll need to be strong on walls and make sure they aren’t trying to complicate things too much while coming through the neutral zone.

This is what cost them in the two games prior to the break, and it’s something they’ll surely be looking to fix. Summerland will look to get ‘back on track’ so to speak, after the only weekend of the season so far where they’ve come up with less than half the points available to them.

Puck drop on Thursday night goes at 7:30 and is presented by Nesters Market Summerland. They’ll have some giveaways, and a turkey bowl going on during the first intermission. Hopefully you had a good holiday break with your family, and now it’s back to hockey!

 

Steam Ready For Pre-Christmas Finale

After a successful home and home against the reigning Keystone Cup Champion 100 Mile House Wranglers this past weekend, the Summerland Steam are back to work prepping for their final action before the holidays. Heading for the break, this group can look back fondly on what can only be considered a successful first half of the 2016.17 KIJHL season. 

They have the second best team goals against average in the KIJHL at 2.21 goals allowed per game, best in their conference. They’ve got the second most points in the division and the conference next to the Osoyoos Coyotes, and they’re only 2 points back. They’ve got the number five ranked power play, and the number one ranked penalty kill in the KIJHL and are +41 in the goal differential department through 28 games. 

The Steam hold a 19-6-1-2 record overall, and close out the pre-Christmas schedule with a 12-1-1-1 home record in 15 home games. There are eight home games remaining before the playoffs, and that’s where the schedule gets tough. They’ll see the Osoyoos Coyotes on home ice three times, the Kelowna Chiefs twice more at the Summerland Arena, and Chase, Princeton, and North Okanagan one more time each. Not an easy home schedule, as all but one of those teams (either North Okanagan or Princeton) will be a playoff team come the end of February. 

That’s a ways away. 

For now the Steam will focus on the road ahead, which leads them to Kamloops and then to Kelowna to close out their pre-Christmas schedule. They’ve seen the Kamloops Storm once this season, picking up an overtime victory courtesy of a Steven Fiust breakaway goal. Kelowna, a much more familiar foe, they’ve seen three times and picked up two wins by 4-3 and 4-1 scores at home. 

Those two games will be vastly different, and both will require Summerland to stick to their game plan and do the things that Head Coach John Depourcq and his staff have been teaching all season. 

In Kamloops on Friday, the Steam will see a very young Kamloops Storm team that skates well, moves the puck, and is extremely well coached by Head Coach Ed Patterson and assistant Kyle Panasuk. They’re young, as Kamloops usually is, because they have so many players move on every single season. But just because they’re a young team doesn’t mean a whole lot. The Storm sit 2nd in the Doug Birks Division, trailing only the Chase Heat, and look well poised for another run to the playoffs.

There are several young players for Kamloops that will likely be tapped for the Top Prospects Showcase on January 14th in Kelowna. One player to watch in particular for the Storm is ’99 born defenceman Garrett Ewart. When the Storm visited the Summerland Steam early in September, Ewart was already a guy to watch for. As a 17 year old defenceman, you’d expect a kid to get his feet wet in Jr Hockey, make sure to limit mistakes, and not take too many chances.

 Not Ewart

The kid has done nothing but be impressive for the Storm this season in both ends of the rink, racking up 35 points in 28 games and leading the team in scoring while being a steady defender that plays in all situations. 

He along with Evan Walls, Nate Pelletier, and recently returned 20 year-old Mitch Friesen help to keep the Storm going strong, and will likely do so Friday when the Summerland Steam visit the old Kamloops Memorial Arena. 

Kamloops’ goaltending situation has become more clear in recent weeks as well. After losing starter Aris Anagnoustopolous to the Prince George Spruce Kings of the BCHL early in November, the Storm had been using Affiliate Players as backups and even to start some games. Nearing the December 1st deadline, they brought in 20 year-old Jason Sandhu from the Nelson Leafs as well as 19 year-old Kolby Pauwels from Sicamous to stabilize the situation. The two have done so, and the Storm continue to climb the standings. 

After the Steam play the Storm on Friday, they’ll see a much more familiar, and much different, foe in Rutland Saturday in the form of the Kelowna Chiefs. The Chiefs are totally the opposite of the Kamloops Storm team the Steam will see Friday night, and it’s important for Summerland to not change their game plan. 

Having seen the Chiefs three times already this season, and getting ready to see them five more times before the end of the regular season, the Steam (and the rest of the league) are taking notice of the Chiefs game and know what to expect.

With 1411 penalty minutes through their first 28 games, the Chiefs are amassing an average of 50.39 penalty minutes PER NIGHT. They’re doing this by racking up fighting majors, misconducts and major infractions like head contact, charging, spearing and slew footing that come with automatic misconducts and ejections.

Just this weekend, for at least the second time in this KIJHL season, the Chiefs found themselves in two line brawls on successive stoppages in play. In both instances on Saturday night against the North Okanagan Knights these started with Chiefs players, first captain Josh Johnston and then Elliott Pickrell, picking up instigator AND Aggressor penalties for their roles in each one.

Kelowna is a talented hockey team, there’s no question about it. In 3 games against Summerland this season so far, all but one have been one goal games and all three have been (mostly) entertaining affairs. 

When their energy is channeled in the appropriate direction, the Chiefs ‘have the horses’ to skate with any team in the conference without question. They’ve got top end KIJHL talent at all positions including goaltender Tanner Marshall, defenceman Joel Scrimbit, and forwards Brody Dale and Brett Witala. The problem is that those top end players, particularly Dale and Witala, are no exception to the penalty minute crisis the Chiefs create for themselves recently.

Witala is a dynamic hockey player that sits in the top 5 in KIJHL scoring. He may be one of the best skaters, and best one-on-one players in the league. Unfortunately, he’s also one of five Chiefs in the top 6 in the KIJHL in penalty minutes. The only non-Chief in the top 6 in penalty minutes is Steam Forward Mike MacLean.

Dale, meanwhile, was extremely disciplined until returning from a recent stint with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers. In five games since returning to the Chiefs, Dale has taken three head contact penalties, including two in one game against the 100 Mile House Wranglers on December 2nd and a major in the final five minutes last Saturday against North Okanagan.  Of the 77 penalty minutes racked up by the 17 year-old from Quesnel, BC, 65 have come in the past five games he’s played in.

This isn’t uncharted water for the Kelowna Chiefs. It’s been a concern all season for the rest of the league, and it only gets worse as the games go on. The Chiefs have run their total to 1411 PIM, or an average of 50.39 per game through 28 games, and I decided it might be worth it to see how this total can actually be possible. 

I went back through boxscores for all games this season, and noticed some pretty astonishing things. The Chiefs have only nine games out of 28 (a shade under a third of their games played) in which they HAVEN’T taken either a major penalty or penalties that BC Hockey considers ‘predatory’ (Kneeing, clipping, butt-ending, Head contact, etc).

In total, the Chiefs, 3rd in the Okanagan Divison standings, have taken 54 penalties that fall into these categories in the 28 games they’ve played. Subtract the 9 games they haven’t taken one, and that’s 54 in 19 games. That’s nearly 2.5 of these types of penalties per game on average, including 9(!!) minor+misconduct or major Head Contact penalties. 

I reiterate, because I know this going to incite outrage from certain readers: these are just facts. Nothing more. 

As previously stated, when the Kelowna Chiefs put their minds to the task at hand, playing against the best in the conference, they hold their own. They are a TALENTED Hockey team that’s strengths include their top 6 forwards, and probably the best 16 year-old goaltender in the league in quite some time.

However, this penalty minute situation is beginning to be a growing concern for those around the league, and might need to begin to be monitored. Teams are now preparing for Kelowna as if the main goal is to not get hurt, which is something that it not good for the league or it’s players.  

Going into the Rutland Arena on Saturday night, the Steam will be mostly healthy. They will be facing what will likely be a Kelowna lineup filled with Affiliate Players due to the suspensions of Tyler Love, Brody Dale, Kolten Carpenter and Ty Dornn, all picked up last Saturday in two separate brawls with North Okanagan.

Tyson Taylor will be eligible to return from a second consecutive ‘accumulated instigstors’ suspension, so it is likely the Chiefs will be without at least those four regulars suspended from Saturday. 

Summerland will get Mike MacLean back this weekend after missing the past 2 games due to suspension as well as they head for the holiday break.

Puck drop for both of Summerland’s games this weekend is 7pm, first at Kamloops Memorial Arena Friday, followed by the trip to Rutland on Saturday. Both games will be available on playfullscreen.com. 

Steam Take 3 of 4 Points in Home & Home with 100 Mile

Jarrett Malchow celebrates a goal during the 2016 playoffs. Credit: Sarah Mayer


On any weekend, 3 of 4 points is usually enough to send a team home happy. It was for the Summerland Steam this weekend, although I’m sure they felt they deserved the full 4. 

In a rematch of last season’s Okanagan Shuswap Conference Final, the Summerland Steam played a home and home series with the 100 Mile House Wranglers on Friday and Saturday. On Friday night in front of a good crowd at the Summerland Arena, the Steam started well and outshot the Wranglers 23-4 in the first period. Unfortunately one bad defensive zone turnover and one bad penalty both ended up behind Steam starter Jared Breitkreuz.

With just under seven minutes gone in the first period, the Wranglers were able to take advantage of a turnover in the middle of Summerland’s D zone, and create a mini 2-on-1 from about 40 feet out. Rob Raju fed team scoring leader Justin Bond, who went high to the glove side of Breitkreuz for his 13th to put the Wranglers up 1-0. 

Garrett Hilton would add another goal with 7:24 remaining in the period to put the Wranglers up by 2, despite being heavily outshot. The Hilton goal began with a point shot on the power play that was partially blocked. Steam centre Calvin Rout did great work to get out and cover the defenceman through a maze of bodies, but he was able to get the shot off. Rout was able to block it partially, but the puck fell right onto Hilton’s stick and he went roof on Breitkreuz for his 11th of the season and a 2-0 Wranglers’ lead.

They would take their lead to the break, but Summerland would battle back in the second frame. Just 4:08 into period two, Cole Williams notched his 8th of the season, beating Wranglers starter Clay Stevenson through traffic. Morey Babakaiff would add the only assist on the tally that brought Summerland back to within one. 

Calvin Hadley would do the same with 8:24 remaining in the second for his 2nd goal of the season. After good work down low from Everett Scherger, Riley Pettitt freed the puck up and fed the point to Hadley. Hadley would put the puck towards the net, and got a little help from a Wranglers defenceman, who tipped it into his own net. 

Besides those two blemishes on each side, the goaltenders were perfect. Stevenson was the busier of the two, as Summerland outshot 100 Mile 50-22 on the night. Two goals each was all the two teams would get, and through regulation time the game remained tied at 2. That’s how it would end, tied at 2, as both goaltenders made sparkling saves in OT to preserve the tie. 

Breitkreuz in particular made four unbelievable saves to keep the Wranglers from walking away with the extra point. He was almost rewarded late in 3v3 OT as Brogan Lautaurd made a solo dash up the ice, but Lautaurd couldn’t beat the goal post and the game ended in a 2-2 tie. 

For Summerland the extra point could have been grabbed if not for missed opportunity. Of note, the Steam’s usually dangerous power play (5th in KIJHL) went 0-for-9, including a 5 minute power play assessed after Braden Eliuk was forced from the game thanks to a blind side hit from Wranglers forward Sam Bosek. Bosek was tossed for the head shot and subsequently suspended two games for the infraction. 

The hit would cause Eliuk to miss Saturday night’s return contest in 100 Mile House, but he wasn’t the only one. Cole Williams would also miss the game, and Summerland would go with just 16 skaters. 

Those skaters did everything right on Saturday night, and never trailed on route to a 4-2 victory. Jarrett Malchow netted his 8th in the first period, and his 9th with :37 remaining in the second that would stand as the eventual game winner. Ben Dietrich-Scammell scored his 12th of the season, and Morey Babakaiff got his well earned first KIJHL goal to give the Steam some insurance in the third. Matt Huber made 26 stops to backstop the Steam to victory.

Both of Malchow’s goals were very similar. Set up on the half wall, he was able to find a lane and bury a shot over Clay Stevenson in the Wranglers goal. Dietrich-Scammell scored by virtue of a back-door tap in, and Babakaiff was the recipient of a beautiful pass from Everett Scherger to bury his first KIJHL goal. 

The win and the tie on the weekend move Summerland to a 19-6-1-2 record through 28 games, good for 41 points. They sit 2nd in the Okanagan Divison and the Okanagan Shuswap Conference and will look to continue chasing the Osoyoos Coyotes, the only team ahead of them. They carry a .732% winning percentage through 28 games, second only to Osoyoos in the conference and third overall behind the Beaver Valley Nitehawks and Osoyoos Coyotes. 

As it always seems to, it looks like certainly the division and potentially the conference will come down to the head to head matchups between Summerland and Osoyoos. There are four of those left, three in Summerland, all in the new year.

As we barrel towards the holiday break, the Steam are the best ‘Special Teams’ Team in the KIJHL, sitting fifth on the power play and first on the penalty kill at nearly 92%. They also have the second best team goals against average in the KIJHL at 2.21, trailing only the Beaver Valley Nitehawks at 2.04, and are top 5 in goal differential at +41 as well.

Things are going well for the team from Summerland BC, and they’ll roll towards the break with two final games before they get ‘twelve days of Christmas’, aka, a 12 day holiday break between games. 

Before they get to that, they get to go out on the road for the last time in the calendar year 2016, as they’ll head to Kamloops and Kelowna next Friday and Saturday. 

They’ll return from their break with a Thursday home date, December 29, against Princeton. 

Power Goes Out on Steam’s Perfect Weekend

Some would argue that the Summerland Steam have played so well through November and into December that only an act of mother nature could stop them. Well that’s what happened last Friday night in Armstrong, as the power went out at the Nor Val Centre. 

The Steam went 6-2 in November, and looked to start December off on the right note Friday night with a visit to the North Okanagan Knights in Armstrong. Josh Pilon opened the scoring with his 12th of the season just :59 seconds into the hockey game before Brady Marzocco replied on the power play for the Knights a short time later. The Marzocco shot that beat Steam starter Matt Huber was one of only 5 in the first period the Steam net minder saw. 

Before the end of the period, Brogan Lautard would convert his second of the season on a pretty back-door feed from Riley Pettitt to give the Steam a 2-1 lead headed to the dressing room after one. 

Everett Scherger would notch his 5th of the season near the midway mark of the third on the power play, before Ben Dietrich-Scammell tallied his 10th to put the Steam up 4-1. Two shots by North Okanagan in the first 16 minutes of the second period brought their tally to seven on the night for Matt Huber to stop, and he made the majority of them look easy. 

With 4:01 remaining in period 2, things got weird. The power went out to most of the Nor-Val Centre in Armstrong, and the status of the remainder of the game was up in the air. After about a 40 minute delay, it was decided that the remainder of the game would be postponed to a later date as the status of the power remained unclear. 

It is likely that the two teams will finish the game the next time Summerland visits, which is January 14th. They will play the remaining 24 minutes of the game dated December 2nd, picking up with Summerland leading 4-1 with 4:01 remaining in the second period. The two teams will then play their regularly scheduled game set to take place that evening. It’s a weird scenario, but nothing the two teams can’t handle. Summerland is in a good spot leading 4-1, and will do their best to close that game out on January 14th.

After the power debacle on Friday night, there was no shortage of electricity Saturday as the Kelowna Chiefs came into the Summerland Arena. For just the third time this year, the Steam and the Chiefs went head to head in a clash between two of the top teams in the KIJHL’s Okanagan Divison. 

The game got off to a fast start, with both Matt Huber and Chiefs goaltending standout Tanner Marshall making saves and getting into the game early. It turned out to be a choppy first period, marred by penalties and post-whistle skirmishes. One of these skirmishes was especially special as Kelowna Chiefs forward Tyson Taylor, in his first game back after suspension for accumulated instigator penalties, jumped Steam Forward Steven Fiust. 

After Fiust made a hit on the wall in neutral ice on the puck carrier, Taylor, Taylor immediately shed his gloves and started throwing. Fiust, wanting no part of a fight or early shower, did not throw a punch in the exchange. Instead Fiust dropped his gloves and held on to the jersey of Taylor in an effort to defend himself, trying to get distance from the 20-year old Chiefs’ forward. Both were assessed fighting majors anyway, Taylor the instigator as well, and banished from the game

For the Chiefs, who lead the league in penalty minutes by a landslide, it was the first of four major infractions on the night. In addition to the Taylor instigator and fight, Dakota Kittle was tossed for slew footing and Zachary Whitehead and Tyler Love both took head contact penalties. These are malicious penalty calls, and each one was applauded by Chiefs players and staff as they happened throughout the course of the game. 

The lone bright spot in an otherwise terribly played first period was a goal from Chiefs leading scorer Brett Witala. Witala made a nifty move to pick up a pass between his legs at the Summerland blue line, and was able to step over the line and beat Matt Huber with a 50 foot laser beam into the top corner. It went in and out so fast, a lot of people didn’t think it went in the net. Witala’s 20th of the season with just over two minutes remaining in the first period gave the Chiefs a 1-0 lead going to the break. 

From the start of the second period onwards, it was the Wyatt Gale show. The Steam forward tied the game at 1 on a breakaway near the midway point of the second period, beating Tanner Marshall five-hole for his 12th of the year. Everett Scherger would follow that with his sixth of the year, on the power play, to give the Steam a 2-1 lead heading to the second intermission. 

In the third, the parade to the penalty box for the Chiefs continued, and Summerland would never relinquish their lead. Gale would notch his second of the night and 13th of the season, on the power play, on a beautiful deflection in front of Tanner Marshall to put Summerland up by 2. He would then complete the hat trick for his team leading 14th of the season to finish the scoring off at 4-1. 

The victory pushes Summerland to a 2-1 record against the Chiefs this season, with the home team winning every meeting so far. The two teams will meet again December 18th in Rutland, in Summerland’s last game before the holiday break. 

Highlights: https://youtu.be/qumnmzZ8QZU

The Steam would finish off three games in five days on Tuesday night with a visit from the Princeton Posse on tap. The Posse, 1-1-1-1 under new Head Coach Mark McNaughton, came into Summerland looking to continue a run of strong play that saw them beat Kelowna, and tie 100 Mile House in recent games. 

The Posse had six wins in 26 starts coming into Tuesday night, but 4 of those 6 wins have come against Summerland, Osoyoos, and Kelowna. That tells you they come to compete, and on Tuesday night, Chandler Billinghurst was the star of the show. 

A 2.57 goals against average and .927% save percentage on any team is considered to be great numbers. Doing it on a team with just six wins is flat out excellent, and on Tuesday night Billinghurst was the reason the Posse stayed in the game. Through two periods, the Summerland Steam outshot the Posse 28-11 but the game was scoreless headed for the third period.

In the third, Billinghurst did his best to hold the Steam off, but the Summerland power play was able to beat him with 7:02 remaining. Morey Babakaiff played catch at the point with Cole Williams had the puck returned to him, and found a lane to the back side. Babakaiff threaded a pass onto the stick of Jarrett Malchow, who hammered a one-timer into the open cage for his 7th of the year.

Josh Pilon would add his 13th of the year on another power play just a couple of minutes later to double the lead for Summerland, and they wouldn’t look back. Ben Dietrich-Scammell would salt the victory with his 11th into an empty net with 1:12 remaining.

Jared Breitkreuz got the start in the game for Summerland, and made saves on all 18 shots he faced, including two breakaways from Princeton’s Tristyn Olson for his second shutout of the year. Breitkreuz takes his goals against average down to 0.80 and his save percentage up to .957% in five starts and five victories.

Highlights:

The two points for Summerland pulls them into a tie for the division and conference lead with the Osoyoos Coyotes, though the Coyotes hold 2 games in hand. The Steam will get a taste of the top of the conference this coming weekend, as they’ll see the 100 Mile House Wranglers for a home and home Friday and Saturday. 

The Wranglers are second to the Chase Heat in the Doug Birks Division with 31 points, and provide a certain ‘stiffness’ and grit that isn’t seen around much of the league. They’re a much different team than the one Summerland beat 7-2 in their season opener, and it’s sure to be a hard fought two games.

The reigning Western Canadian Champion Wranglers, coached by Dale Hladun, have had a good year after a bit of a rocky start. It took them a few games to get started, but they’ve worked themselves up the Doug Birks Division standings into second place behind the Chase Heat. The Doug Birks is a rough and tough division, and the Wranglers bring a brand of physicality that Summerland hasn’t seen much of this year. It will be interesting to see how they handle it and what changes they make to their game plan come Friday night. 

The Wranglers will be looking to have a more successful trip to the Okanagan next Friday than this past weekend. They came up empty in Kelowna on Friday before blowing a 3 goal lead in Osoyoos on Saturday to lose 4-3 in OT. They then played to a 3-3 tie in Princeton on Sunday afternoon and headed home with just two of a possible six points. They followed that up with a 4-1 loss to the Kamloops Storm in Wednesday night. 

Friday night will be Summerland’s second “Fill The Net” food drive to support the Summerland Food Bank. The Steam and the Summerland Minor Hockey Association will be collecting donations to help families in need, as well as draw Summerland Minor Hockey’s annual cash raffle!

If you can’t join us at the rink, join Joel and I on playfullscreen.com starting with full pre-game at 715.