After six back and forth, up and down, ‘hit ‘Em in the mouth’ type hockey games to open the KIJHL Playoffs, the Summerland Steam and Kelowna Chiefs are headed to Game 7 for the second time in three seasons.
One will go on. One will go home.
After Splitting the first four games of this series right down the middle, the Steam and the Chiefs went back to work on Thursday night in Game 5. After losing Game 4 by a 7-4 score that was all Kelowna, all the time, Summerland came out and went to work on the Chiefs in Game 5. They picked up a 6-2 victory and a 3-2 series lead, only to have the Chiefs come back with the counterpunch to the tune of a 6-0 drubbing in Game 6 to tie the series once again.
That takes us to a Game 7. The best spectacle in sports will take on new life as the scene shifts to somewhat neutral, and much larger ground than any of these players are used to. Due to the work being done on the District of Summerland’s water system, there is no ice available this weekend at the Summerland Arena. Instead the Summerland Steam will play host to a Game 7 against the Kelowna Chiefs at the 5,500 seat South Okanagan Events Centre on Saturday night. Home to the BCHL’s Interior Division Champion and Western Canadian Championship Host Penticton VEES, the SOEC is a beautiful facility. The Vees don’t open the BCHL playoffs at home until March 17th when the second round of the BCHL Playoffs begin, but their building will be used on Saturday night. If the rest of the series is any indication, the Summerland Steam and the Kelowna Chiefs are about to put on a show for any Vees fans not wanting to wait until March 17th to watch playoff hockey.
In this series thus far we’ve seen two different versions of each of these hockey teams. Both the Steam and the Chiefs have played good hockey AND bad hockey in this series through six games, and you better believe both teams will bring their best on Saturday night. Both will want to set tones early and use their forecheck to create pressure.
Both have shown a propensity to take penalties in this series and if that’s the case on Saturday, the game is in the hands of the Kelowna Chiefs. A Chiefs power play that went 1/46 in the 8 game regular season series has scored at least once in every game of this series, and has looked dangerous. It will be wise for Summerland to play Kelowna at 5v5 as much as possible and keep their emotions in check.
Summerland will have to contain the line of Jason Village, Brett Witala and Josh Kobelka if they want to win, as they’ve done the bulk of the Chiefs’ scoring through six games.
Likewise, the Chiefs will want to contain the Steam’s Yukon Line for the same reason. It seems whoever has had home ice advantage and the last change in this series has been successful, and utilizing that will be vital in a Game 7 situation.
The Steam are the “Home Team” for Game 7, though they won’t play the game in their home rink. It will be a different feel, no doubt, but at the end of the day a Game 7 is a Game 7, and all 40 players that dress WILL be ready to go.
Puck drops from the SOEC IN PENTICTON at 7PM on Saturday night. Joel and I will be working all afternoon to make sure our equipment set up is ready to go so we can put on the best broadcast possible, with the Coastal Eye Clinic Pre-game Show kicking off at 6:45pm.
Strap in, and enjoy all the wonders of Game 7.