As the 2017/18 KIJHL season draws near, the Summerland Steam are beginning to put together a roster on paper that should compete for a division championship on the ice.
With the players who are eligible to return, including 2017 Rookie of the Year Everett Scherger, Top Defenceman Cole Williams, Most Improved Player Morey Babakaiff, and Team MVP Matt Huber, things already look promising for Head Coach John Depourcq. Add into the mix the commitment of Okanagan Hockey Academy defenseman Bailey Tamminga and all other potential returnees, and you’ve got the makings of a pretty solid hockey team.
The Steam added to their strong recruiting class recently by coming to a mutual commitment with 16-year old forward Lukas Jirousek. Jirousek played two games at the end of the 2016/17 season for the Steam as an affiliate player, and looked comfortable in the ice time he received.
The 6’4″, 185lb forward from Whitehorse, Yukon (yes, another one!) spent the past two seasons in the Pacific Coast Hockey Academy program. In those two seasons, Jirousek spent his years playing a season in each of the Elite 15 and Midget Prep divisions of the CSSHL, averaging 0.5 points per game over 47 career games.
In 2015/16, playing on an Elite 15 squad that went 7-24-0-4, Jirousek notched 6 goals and 5 assists for 11 points in just 18 games played.
After moving to the Midget Prep program for the 2016/17 season, Lukas found himself on a team that went 6-23-0-1 in 30 regular season games, and failed to qualify for the CSSHL Playoffs. During that season, Jirousek tallied 6 goals and 7 assists for thirteen points in 29 games.
The most impressive stat of the bunch, perhaps, is penalty minutes. For a young man that is 6″2, 170lbs as a 15-year old in the CSSHL, the fact he accumulated just 6 penalty minutes in 29 games and used that big frame effectively to play dependable minutes is something to take note of.
“We’re very excited to have a mutual commitment with Lukas,” says Steam GM Mike Rigby, “He showed really well in limited time here last season as an affiliate player and we’re thrilled to potentially have him full time for the 2017/18 KIJHL Season. He’s a big young man that moves well and creates offense with a good hockey sense and great set of hands.”
Jirousek has grown 2 inches and put on 15lbs since the end of last season while training with Allout Hockey over the course of the summer. He entered last season at 6’2″ and 170lbs (according to CSSHL.ca), and is now reportedly closing in on 6’4″, 185lbs. All out Hockey is the same training program used by previous Steam standouts Jarrett Malchow and Wyatt Gale, as well as Kamloops Storm forwards Kole and Kaine Comin, all products of the Yukon Territory.
Not only is Lukas getting bigger and stronger in his training programs, but he’s also continued his strong summer with a great showing at a recent prospect showcase in Whistler. There he tallied 14 points in just five games against other players born between 1999 and 2002.
Upon his arrival in Summerland, Jirousek will join a strong group that should surely compete once again at the top of the Okanagan Division. A strong class of eligible returnees, mixed with a talented group of rookies should have the Steam excited about what 2017/18 can turn out to be.
They’ll look to start strong, with eight of their first ten games against opponents from outside their own division. Their only divisional games in the first month come on back to back nights on September 29 at home vs Osoyoos, and September 30 in Rutland against the Kelowna Chiefs.
The Steam will play two exhibition games prior to the start of the season, September 1st in Osoyoos, and September 2nd in Summerland.