📸: Vicky Rich
Three very different hockey games have the Summerland Steam out to a 2-1 series lead in their first round series with the Kelowna Chiefs. For the third straight year, the Steam and the Chiefs face off as the 2vs3 matchup in the KIJHL’s Okanagan Division Semi-Final. For the third straight year, the Kelowna Chiefs came out and picked up a victory in Game 1 of the series, in Summerland. This season, they opened the KIJHL playoffs with a 3-2 win that saw them play a perfect road game on the way to victory. They were able to clog the neutral zone, make it difficult for Summerland to get through transition cleanly, and capitalize on their chances when they came up.
The Chiefs top line of Brett Witala, Jason Village, and Josh Kobelka drove the bus for the Chiefs in Game 1, and led them to victory. Brett Witala opened the scoring on a 2-on-1 courtesy of a pass from Jason Village. Witala took it off his skate, without making a kicking motion, and it bounced past Steam goaltender Matt Huber. Ryan Pereverzoff would then make the Chiefs lead 2 on a sharp angle shot over the short-side shoulder before Summerland would mount their comeback.
Riley Pettitt would get the Steam on the board, picking up a rebound and waiting out Chiefs goaltender Tanner Marshall and beating him up high to cut the lead to one before the end of the first period. Early in the second, Jarrett Malchow would take advantage of a Kolten Carpenter turnover, and blast a slapshot over the shoulder of Marshall to tie the game at 2.
It would remain that way until the dying moments, when Witala and Village would strike again on another 2-on-1. This time it was Witala carrying the puck, and he did well to create a rebound off of Matt Huber for Jason Village to bang into an empty cage with 2:10 remaining. The goal would stand as the winner, and the Chiefs would ‘steal’ one in Summerland.
Game 1 Highlights:
In Game 2 it was a much different Steam hockey team. They got off to a good start, opening the scoring courtesy of Wyatt Gale just :50 into the hockey game, and didn’t let the Chiefs control the neutral zone like they did in Game 1. Gale was able to pry a puck loose from traffic behind the goal of Tanner Marshall, make a move out front, and stuff the puck into the net before Marshall was able to pick him up.
Konsta Jaske would then pot a powerplay goal to make it 2-0. After a puck was worked to Braden Eliuk at the left point, he made a cross ice pass to Jaske, who fired a shot that changed direction off a deflection from a Kelowna defender. After changing direction, the puck rolled past Tanner Marshall, who could do nothing but watch helplessly as he slid across the crease.
Josh Kobelka would then get the Chiefs on the board with a powerplay goal of their own before the end of the first period, with just 3:11 remaining, to cut the Steam lead to just a goal at the end of the first period. In the second Summerland added to their lead. Wyatt Gale would net his second of the night after a mad dash up the ice, stepping over the blue line and finding some space to beat Marshall high over the glove for a 3-1 Summerland lead.
After that, with just :51 seconds remaining in the second period, was when the series turned on it’s ear. Prior to this time the series had been a little tentative, with two teams feeling each other out and playing an exciting, end to end style of hockey. At this time though came the first major penalty of the series. It came to Calvin Hadley, as he barreled through the Kelowna goal crease and flattened Tanner Marshall, of course drawing a crowd and starting a melee. Marshall was forced from the game and potentially the series by the hit, which is very unfortunate for the young man who had a terrific season to date for the Chiefs as a 16-year old. Hadley was assessed a 5 minute major for Goaltender Interference, a game misconduct, and a two game suspension for the offence that put the Chiefs (understandably so) on edge.
The Chiefs would get another power play goal early in the third. They cashed in on their 5 minute power play using the same play as their other power play goal in the game, by sending a superb pass to the back door to find the open man. This time that man was Brendan Mongey. Jason Village would draw the primary assist on the goal, making a great pass through traffic to find Mongey at the side. Mongey would bank the puck off of Huber, and into the back of the net to bring the Chiefs back within one.
The third period of course produced more fireworks, as we were sure to see some retribution from the Chiefs for the Hadley run at the end of the second frame. It came in the person of Ryan Pereverzoff, in two instances in a matter of minutes. In the first, Pereverzoff did a good job to chase down a 2-on-1 and break up a potential scoring opportunity for Wyatt Gale. He followed the great play though with an extremely late, malicious check on Gale into the end boards while the puck was being moved out of the Chiefs zone. There was a solid count to four between the time he puck left Gale to the time he got hit, so much so that the puck was so far gon the referee was none the wiser.
Pereverzoff and Andrew York then got tangled up, sat for two minutes, and on his next shift Pereverzoff started a melee in the crease of Matthew Huber. While following through on a shot that found it’s way into the mesh above the glass, Pereverzoff found himself in prime position to give Matt Huber a shot. From a knee while following the shot through, Pereverzoff gave the Summerland goaltender a push in the chest that sent him backwards and started a dust up behind the Summerland net.
With 2:20 to play, an odd time for a play like that to take place with his team down a goal, Pereverzoff sat for just :11 before Summerland capitalized on the power play to give themselves a 4-2 lead with just 2:09 to play. Calvin Rout would be the guy to score the power play goal, his first of the playoffs, as he found a loose puck out front of Brandon Gaucher and stuff it through him. They would hold the lead and win the game by the same score to even the series at 1.
Game 2 Highlights:
As the series shifted to Game 3 in Rutland, things got a whole different level of heated. Both teams were extremely physical in a game that saw Summerland play the perfect road game this time. They did good work to keep Kelowna’s top tier talent in check, kill any power plays the Chiefs had, and pick up a 3-1 victory to take a 2-1 series lead.
Wyatt Gale opened the scoring with just :26 remaining in the first period, on the power play, as he took a pass off his skate that bounced into the net behind Chiefs starting goaltender Brandon Gaucher. Gaucher, taking the place of the injured Tanner Marshall, was good for the Chiefs in this game but not quite as good as Matt Huber at the other end. Huber allowed just one on this night, a goal to Ryan Pereverzoff early in the second period that tied the game at one.
Morey Babakaiff would score just 2:08 later for Summerland, which would stand as the game winner after the Steam were able to shut the Chiefs down in the back half of the hockey game. Summerland’s Jarrett Malchow would hit an empty net with :11 remaining in the third to round out the scoring, but they had to play the last 15 minutes of the game without one of their top players.
Riley Pettitt would be removed from the game after a stoppage at 14:29 of the third period. With a penalty already coming to Tyson Taylor for Charging on Matt Alcorn, Kelowna’s Brendan Mongey took a 5 minute major for Head Contact and a game misconduct. Pettitt, the victim of the Mongey hit, was bloodied and slow to get up on the play, but did skate off under his own power. It will be interesting to see if Pettitt is able to return to the series for Game 4 tomorrow night in Rutland. Mongey will likely sit for Game 4, as I believe there is a mandatory one game suspension for any major head contact penalty.
Speaking of head contact penalties, Summerland’s Mike MacLean is eligible to return to the Summerland Steam lineup for Game 4 on Tuesday night in Rutland. He’s been missing since February 18th, serving a 3 game suspension that has now run it’s course. MacLean will be a welcome addition to the Steam lineup as they played without Jarrett Malchow in game 2, and Josh Pilon in game 3.
It remains to be seen if Riley Pettitt will play on Game 4 after taking the Mongey hit, or if Josh Pilon will return from whatever kept him out of game 3. The Steam did, however, get team captain Alex Williams back for Game 3. Grizz saw limited duty, and the coaching staff will ease him back in as he returns from injury.
Battling sickness and injury is nothing new for the Summerland Steam, and that’s the case right now. They’ll look to build their lead to 3-1 and take the Chiefs to the brink of elimination on Tuesday night in Game 4 from the Rutland Arena. Puck drop is 7pm on Playfullscreen.com with Justin McCartney.