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.