On Friday night the Summerland Steam hosted the Kelowna Chiefs for a third time in this KIJHL season. For a third time at the Summerland Arena, the Steam put together a complete effort and came away with a 4-2 victory for their effort.
In the fifth meeting of the season between the Steam and the Chiefs, the home team won the game for the fifth time. For the second consecutive time though, the road team opened the scoring. Josh Kobelka cracked a 0-0 deadlock with 2:58 remaining in the first period, converting on a Kolten Carpenter shot that was headed intentionally wide of the net. The puck slung out the other side of the goal, where Kobelka went roof on Steam starter Matt Huber to give the Chiefs the lead. It looked as though the Chiefs would take that lead into the first intermission despite being heavily outshot.
On Summerland’s 22nd shot of the period, Everett Scherger was able to beat Chiefs starter Tanner Marshall on a wrap-around with just :12.9 seconds left in the first frame. After a faceoff win from Braden Eliuk and a shot from Calvin Hadley at the point, Scherger was able to find the loose puck at the side of the net. Instead of forcing it to the front, he smartly took it around the back and wrapped in his 8th of the season to tie the game at 1.
To start the second it was Matt Huber’s turn to keep his team in the game. Tanner Marshall had done it in superb fashion for the Chiefs in the first period, and Huber, not to the same extent, had to do it in the second. Just over a minute into the period Josh Kobelka found himself all alone with 20 feet between he and Huber. He made a move to his forehand, and then to his backhand, but Huber stayed with him all the way and stuffed the attempt on the glove side.
Huber then made three or four saves in the coming minutes to allow Summerland to get their legs back, and they rewarded him for it. With 7:02 remaining in the period Riley Pettitt would notch his 13rh of the season to give the Steam the lead. The play would start in the Summerland end with Konsta Jaske sending a pass up the left wing for Wyatt Gale. Gale then moved it to Pettitt who found himself with a clean look at Marshall in the Kelowna goal. He made no mistake, beating Marshall low to the blocker side to give the Steam the lead.
Wyatt Gale would then add his 17th with 4:35 remaining in the second frame to extend Summerland’s lead to 3-1. After some sustained pressure in the Kelowna zone, Summerland was able to cycle the puck around in the corner and find Gale out front. They’d worked so well on the cycle that they’d sucked the extra Kelowna defender in, and Gale found himself with all sorts of real estate in front of Tanner Marshall. He made no mistake, burying a shot low to the blocker side to extend the Summerland lead.
That would do it for the scoring until the final minute when Cole Williams would add an empty netter, his 10th goal of the season, to extend the lead to 4-1. Brett Witala would notch his league leading 23rd as time expired to make the final score 4-2 in favour of the home team.
This was a good hockey game. From start to nearly the finish, the two teams behaved themselves and took limited runs at one another until the final six minutes. In those final six minutes the standard stuff began to happen, but it wasn’t anything malicious. Both benches, both coincidentally missing their head coaches for very different reasons, kept their cool. Kelowna was without both Head Coach Jason Tansem and Assistant Dave Andrusiak, and Summerland played the game without Head Coach John Depourcq behind the bench.
At one point Assistant Coach Olli Dickson of Summerland and newly returned Assistant Coach Lenny Rampone of the Kelowna Chiefs were asked to leave the bench by referee Kevin Crowell for jawing at one another. They came nearly nose to nose between the benches before being asked to leave. I don’t believe any penalties were assessed to either man.
Summerland had a good night. They did a good job to neutralize the majority of the guys that do the damage for the Chiefs. Witala ended up with a goal, as did Kobelka, but even those were isolated incidents. Summerland did good work to make sure those big guns stayed to the outside and didn’t get any ‘Grade A’ scoring chances.
With a tough stretch of games coming up in their next five contests, Summerland will have to get used to holding off the big guns of other teams. In their next five games they’ll see the Osoyoos Coyotes twice, Kelowna once, Chase once, and North Okanagan once. All of those teams have potent forwards and great goaltending that could pose problems if the Steam don’t bring their ‘A’ game.
They’re looking to close on the Coyotes at the top of the Okanagan Division, and will definitely need those two wins in the two games they play against them this month. The Coyotes keep on winning, much like Summerland does, and it’ll be a race to the finish with four head to head matchups left.
The first of those two meetings will come Friday in Osoyoos, and we’ll have a preview for you sometime mid-week this week to get ready for that clash. Summerland will not return to home ice until they play the North Okanagan Knights on Tuesday, January 17th.