After a two win weekend this past weekend, the Summerland Steam were straight back to work on Tuesday night as they hosted the North Okanagan Knights. The two teams played last Saturday to a 6-2 decision in favour of the Steam in Armstrong, and went back at it again Tuesday night at the Summerland Arena. Summerland came into the game looking to pickup their 5th straight victory and move their home record to 15-1-1-1. They did so, picking up a 7-5 victory in a game that went back and forth nearly all night.
Summerland got off to a hot start on Tuesday night, peppering Knights goaltender Daniel Paul in the first five minutes and using a good forecheck to impose their will inside North Okanagan territory. Calvin Hadley was able to open the scoring for the Steam with his third of the season just a few minutes into the first period. After that good forecheck from the Steam, Morey Babakaiff was able to get th puck to the point and head for the net. Hadley was able to blast a shot through traffic and off a body, by Daniel Paul for a 1-0 Summerland lead.
The opening goal came with 12:01 remaining in period 1, and Summerland wasn’t finished. They would score two more, Andrew York’s sixth of the season on a deflection at 8:04 followed by Matt Alcorn’s second of the year and second in as many games at 7:35. The two goals, both long shots through traffic, came just :29 apart and put Summerland out to a 3-0 lead.
It wasn’t long though before North Okanagan had an answer. Chris Pederson, recently acquired by the Knights from the Chase Heat, was able to score on a long shot of his own through traffic at 5:59 to tally his first KIJHL goal and pull the Knights back to within two after a period of play. The period was dominated by the Summerland Steam, as they outshot the Knights by a 14-5 margin and held their 3-1 lead.
Everett Scherger would make it 4-1 with his 11th of the season, shorthanded, at 7:05 of the second frame. While on the PK, Scherger put his unbelievable ability to pursue the puck on display and stripped a puck off goaltender Daniel Paul in behind the North Okanagan goal. He was able to beat Paul back to the far post with a wrap around to put Summerland up 4-1.
The Scherger goal was the only bright spot for Summerland in period two, as they paraded to the penalty box and allowed the Knights to gain back some momentum. North Okanagan was able to capitalize at 5:11 on the power play when Cameron Welch made a move to get Steam starter Jared Breitkreuz out of position before banking the puck in off him for Welch’s fourth of the season.
Dean Whitcomb would pull the visitors within one at 3:48 when he scored his 13th of the season to make it a 4-3 game. In between the many Knights powerplays in the second period, Whitcomb found himself all alone in front of Breitkreuz. He made no mistake in stopping the point shot from Pedersen, dragging the puck around a sprawling Breitkreuz, and tucking it into the empty cage.
With the score 4-3 and the clock winding down in the second period, Summerland was sent to the PK on a LATE slashing call by referee Lyle Hinds. Matt Alcorn was the culprit, and he argued his way to the penalty box and slammed the door. When he slammed the door, he and Jarrett Malchow (also in the box) got a glass shower. The glass in the penalty box door smashed into a million little pieces, forcing an early intermission and extended delay as the arena staff got things cleaned up and replaced. They did a wonderful job and limited us to about a 25 minute delay before we got underway with the final 21:12.
Ben Dietrich-Scammell would be the next to tally, notching his 16th of the season on a nifty cutback with 14:43 remaining in the third period. North Okanagan, however, had an answer and it came in the form of Cameron Welch’s second of the night and fifth of the season. Welch was able to pick a puck up out of the corner and find his way into traffic in the slot. There, he beat Jared Breitkreuz to get the Knights back within a goal and make the score 5-4 with just over 11 minutes remaining.
Riley Pettitt would take his turn next, scoring what would stand as the game winner with 9:22 to play. After a good breakout, the Yukon Line moved their way through neutral ice three abreast. Wyatt Gale fed the right side to Jarrett Malchow, who carried over the blue line and fed a pass onto the tape of a streaking Riley Pettitt. Pettitt was able to guide the puck in at the back post for his 16th to extend Summerland’s lead to 6-4.
Dean Whitcomb would score again, his 14th, to make it 6-5 with 5:46 to play before Pettitt scored again on a Summerland powerplay to close things out with 1:45 to play and make the final 7-5.
This game as a whole was a little bit loose, as you could tell by the combined 12 goals. Only two of those goals, one for each team, came on the power play. They gave each other opportunities, combining for 12 total powerplays, but were mostly unsuccessful in their efforts with the man advantage. Despite the five goals against, the Steam were pretty good in most areas of the ice. They worked hard on the forecheck and did well to create offense off the rush, but the area that their problems occurred in was the five foot perimeter around their own net. Four of the Knights five goals were scored from that area, and the fifth was scored because there was traffic in that area. Summerland will need to work on that in practice this week if they want to have a chance to win their next home game, this Friday against the Chase Heat.
The Heat bring a much different element to he game me than a lot of teams in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference. Head Coach Brad Fox and the Chase Heat staff have put together a great blend of skill and smarts, as well as size and goaltending, to compete in a tough Doug Birks Division. Right now the Heat lead that division with a 24-9-1-2 record and 51 points, 5 points clear of the 100 Mile House Wranglers.
They’re led by a mix of veteran KIJHL Players and young talent, and can beat you in a lot of different ways. Michael Fidanza leads the team in scoring, and sits sixth in the KIJHL and third in the conference in scoring with 51 points (14G+32A). The special part about Chase though, is that it’s not only Fidanza you have to worry about.
The Heat have 9, yes nine, players that average nearly a point per game or better. Josh Bourne (KIJHL Top Prospects Game Participant), Kaden Black, Pat Brady, Spencer Farstad, Zach Fournier, Kolten Moore, Travis Beaubien, Cody Hodges, and Mason Palaga all average .90 points per game or higher. That’s a deep hockey team.
Chase’s depth will come in handy Friday night in Summerland as Hodges will miss the game due to suspension and Michael Fidanza is listed on the KIJHL website as day-to-day with a lower body injury. This could impact Head Coach Brad Fox’s line combinations, but with how deep Chase is it shouldn’t be too much of a concern.
If you manage to neutralize all of Chase’s offensive threats and create some of your own, well, you still have to find a way to beat Nic Bruyere. In 28 appearances this season, Bruyere carries a 2.88 goals against average and a .915% save percentage. The 20 year- old Burnaby, BC native is a 3 year KIJHL veteran that holds a career win-loss record of 44-27-4-3 in 76 appearances to go with a 2.60 goals against average and .920% save percentage in over 4500 minutes played.
He’s been the great equalizer for the Chase Heat for the bulk of the past two seasons, and the Summerland Steam will have to find creative ways to beat him on Friday night if they want to win.
For my money, he’s the best goaltender in the KIJHL and comes up clutch in big moments. That’s what you want from your goaltender and that’s what Chase gets on a consistent basis.
Bruyere is a big goaltender, but moves deceptively well for his 6’1″, 210 Lb frame. Summerland should look to get traffic in front of him and fire away from the blue line, much like Tuesday night against North Okanagan. Josh Pilon and Mike MacLean, in particular, are two big bodies that Summerland should look to have drive the net and create problems for the Chase Heat below the hash marks.
It should be a great game Friday night between two powerhouses in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference. Puck drop goes at 7:30 at the Summerland Arena. Joel and I will have the Coastal Eye Clinic Pre-Game show coming your way on playfullscreen.com starting at 7:15 with audio hopefully from both coaches.