📸 Victoria Rich Photography
It’s an outcome that people familiar with these two hockey teams would expect. The Osoyoos Coyotes, the top team in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference this season, were able to ‘hold serve’ against the visiting Summerland Steam, the second place team in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference, and take a 2-0 series lead with two wins on home ice. After six days off and being able to sit comfortably while watching Summerland and Kelowna wear each other down, the Coyotes were ready to play on Tuesday night.
So was Summerland.
After a grueling 7 game series with the Kelowna Chiefs that ended with a dagger from Wyatt Gale, Summerland moved on to round two and the waiting Osoyoos Coyotes. Though surely tired from the long haul with Kelowna, the Steam showed up with nearly their best in Game 1.
The two teams got underway Tuesday at the Sun Bowl Arena in Osoyoos, and played one of the best games of the season. They went back and forth all night long before finally finding a winner almost halfway through the 11pm hour after 22:13 of overtime.
Mike MacLean got the scoring started in the Okanagan Divison Final, banging a loose puck past Coyotes’ goaltender Adam Jones just prior to the eight minute mark of the first period of Game 1.
The Steam would hold the lead into the final minute of the period, when Austin Cleaver was the beneficiary of a good bounce off a blocked shot. On the power play, Cleaver was able to find a puck that had fallen straight to him, and make a shot over Steam starter Matt Huber to tie the game at 1 with :46 left in the first frame.
The score would stay tied at one through the middle 20 minutes, although both teams had chances to untie the score. The entirety of the game was fast, high skill hockey with a little physical play mixed in just to keep things interesting.
Scott Robinson would in fact untie the score just 1:05 into the third period. On a power play, Robinson would take a pass off the rush on the left wing side, and beat Adam Jones to give the Steam a 2-1 lead. That lead would last :53 seconds before Coyotes captain Dan Stone would pot a powerplay goal of his own, locating a long rebound to the right of Matt Huber and slamming it into the back of the net.
Carter Robinson would then get the Coyotes their first lead of the game, scoring just 2:45 into the third period before things settled a little bit.
Summerland’s Konsta Jaske would tie the game at three just prior to the halfway point of the third period, sending a fluttering slap shot on net from the blue line. Jones simply whiffed on it in the Coyotes net, and all of a sudden we had ourselves a 3-3 tie.
Judd Repole would then get lucky at the other end. After driving deep into Summerland territory, Repole threw a puck out front of the net. It ended up bouncing through Huber, giving the Coyotes their lead back with 8:14 to play.
The score would stay that way into the dying moments, despite a big push from Summerland. Wyatt Gale would finally break through and score with 1:14 remaining, locating a loose puck in the goal crease and tying the game at 4.
Just like that, we were set up for a little (or a lot of) overtime. Through the first 10 minutes it was all Coyotes. They outshot the Steam, who looked to be wearing, by a 9-2 margin. After the flood, we started 20:00 of 2ot, and it took 12:13 before we had a winner.
The winner was the Osoyoos Coyotes, courtesy of Austin Cleaver’s second of the game. After Austin Steger moved the puck into Summerland territory, he sent a puck towards the net front. Cleaver was there to direct it on net where Matt Huber made the first stop, but Cleaver poked in the rebound to give the Coyotes a 1-0 series lead.
They would take their 2-0 series lead on Wednesday night in a Game 2 that was much less exciting. Summerland was better than the previous night, and Osoyoos was worse, but they got the same result thanks to Adam Jones tending their goal.
Connor Onstein would open the scoring in Game 2 for the Coyotes, driving wide on a Summerland defender and beating Matt Huber with a backhand shot 5-hole. By Huber’s reaction, something tells me he wanted it back, but it wasn’t the difference in the hockey game. If he felt he should have stopped it, he’s definitely built up some equity in the past three weeks.
The score would stay 1-0 in the Coyotes favour until the middle of the second period. That’s when Riley Pettitt and Wyatt Gale went to work on the forecheck. They were able to pry the puck loose, and Gale walked out into the circle with it. He was able to find some space, and went bar down over the left shoulder of Adam Jones to tie the game at one.
Like so many times before, the Coyotes used their powerplay to make the difference in the game. Jackson Glimpel would score on a tip in front of Matt Huber in the late stages of the second period, giving the Coyotes a 2-1 lead that they would nurse home to victory.
Summerland was good again in this game, and I’d say for the second game in a row they were good enough to win. Adam Jones was the difference for the Yotes, standing tall under pressure and making key saves on some very good Summerland opportunities.
The Steam will use the first of just two off days in this series on Thursday to try and find new ways to beat the Coyotes keeper before Game 3 on Friday night.
Being down 2-0 in this series shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone. The home team is supposed to win on home ice and if the road team can steal one early in a series, it’s a big bonus to play with. Summerland was just about able to steal two.
The “official” shots on goal in Osoyoos would tell you otherwise, but these two games were tight. The official shots from the two games in Osoyoos saw the Coyotes outshoot the Steam 102-68, and I can promise you that those numbers are wildly incorrect based on my shot charts. Yes, I keep shot charts for every game, and I had the shots much closer at 89-77 Coyotes, which reflects the way these two games were played, tightly.
I don’t believe I’ve seen a single game in my tenure where the road team has outshot the Coyotes on home ice, whether that road team is the Kelowna Chiefs, Princeton Posse, Kamloops Storm, or the Summerland Steam.
These two games were super tight, and super entertaining. From a fan point of view, I hope we get a few more of those before this series ends. I don’t think any member of either team will admit it, but I think there’s a mutual respect for the talent on each side between these two teams. We’ve seen very little post-whistle extra curricular activity in these first two games, and no egregious penalties or really any penalties at all. That’s a good sign.
Summerland will look to turn the tables with their home ice this weekend, although they may still be a little banged up.
They’ve been a bit undermanned so far in this series. They’ve played the first two games of the series without Braden Eliuk or Jarrett Malchow, and it remains to be seen if either will be able to play Friday in Game 3. It is also a possibility that they’ll be without Mike MacLean on Friday night, due to another (soft) hit to the head penalty.
If I were to make up a video reel of every hit to the head penalty accrued by MacLean this season, there might be two out of six that were warranted. The other four are called solely because of his size compared to the player he hit, A.K.A., ‘big guy penalties’. It’s really a shame that the referees across the league aren’t able to differentiate, because the constant threat of penalty and suspension can take away from a kid’s game very quickly. MacLean was great in the first two games of this series, and hopefully he’ll be able to continue his strong play alongside Wyatt Gale and Riley Pettitt as this series continues.
One thing to hope for if you’re the Summerland Steam is for a couple lines to get hot. Gale and Pettitt with whoever they play with will surely ‘drive the bus’ for the Steam, but the support system has to be there if they want to get back in this series. Head Coach John Depourcq has A LOT of talent to work with on his bench, even missing a couple marquee forwards, but it’ll be up to the players to make their talent work for them and pick up a couple of wins on home ice.
Game 3 and 4 shift to Summerland on Friday and Saturday nights. Friday is a regular 7:30pm start time with our Pre-game show going at 7:15. Saturday night will be a special 7:55 start time, so our pre-game show will start at 7:40.