Steam Fill the Net in Two Weekend Victories

To start the 2017/18 KIJHL season, if someone would have classified the Summerland Steam as an ‘offensive juggernaut’, this broadcaster would have placed money on the opposite. With the majority of their experience playing on the blue line and in goal, most close to the Summerland Steam organization figured they would be winning games by 2-1 or 3-2 scores.

Instead, a young and inexperienced offense led by just a couple of veterans, Everett Scherger, Morey Babakaiff, and converted defenseman Scott Robinson, has become that offensive juggernaut that few expected. Through six regular season games they’ve scored 31 times, averaging 5.17 goals per game while giving up just 13 goals against. Firing on all cylinders, they were able to roll over the Sicamous Eagles and Kamloops Storm this past weekend, outscoring the two opponents 13-4 in the process.

After pouring in eight goals against Sicamous Friday in an 8-2 victory, they added 5 more in a 5-2 victory against Kamloops on Saturday. They’ve scored more goals than everybody in the KIJHL but the Grand Forks Border Bruins, and lead the league in goal differential at a whopping +18.

The eight goal outburst on Friday against Sicamous came after a 6-0 romp of the same Eagles in their last game the Saturday prior. In the 8-2 home win Friday, Summerland got hat-trick efforts from both Everett Scherger and Lukas Jirousek, while getting a goal each from newcomers Blake Holowaty and Simon Snyman.

Holowaty also had an assist in his Steam debut, and followed that up with a two goal, one assist effort the next night against Kamloops. In that game Wyatt Kelly notched his first KIJHL goal, while Cody Swan and Riley Smoler also scored for the home team.

Matt Huber took home both victories on the weekend, stopping 26 of 30 combined shots over the course of both games. He wasn’t busy, or tested often, but he made the saves necessary to pick up the victories and keep the Steam out ahead of the rest of the Okanagan Division before divisional play really starts this weekend.

It will be interesting to see how the Steam fair as they begin play against their own division on Friday night. Their six games thus far, all against Doug Birks Division opponents, have been a good test for a young hockey team and shown that they can flat out play. They’ll get their first taste of the division’s elite when they face the rival Osoyoos Coyotes at home on Friday before heading into Rutland to play the Kelowna Chiefs on Saturday night.

They’ll lean on the veteran presence of their defense in that pair of games, surely, but these types of opponents are exactly the reason for looking to bring in a forward like Blake Holowaty. Veteran leadership up front was something that Summerland had been looking for since the beginning of preseason, and it looks as though they’ve found it in the 20-year old Penticton native. He notched five points in his first two games, and was the best player on the ice for the majority of both hockey games. He’s a great addition to the forward group, and will provide some guidance to the younger players getting used to the pace and physicality of Jr. B hockey.

The Coyotes team that Summerland will see on Friday night will be a lot different than years past. They’re younger, and seem to be in a much more ‘score by committee’ mode than anyone is used to seeing from a Ken Law led hockey team early in the season. They’re waiting on the return of superstar Colin Bell, who is helping protect our province and fighting wildfires in the Cariboo region. They’re expecting him to return sometime in October, and will get much more dangerous when he does.

The Kelowna Chiefs, however, are laden with firepower in the form of team captain Brett Witala and forward Brody Dale. Dale, who spent the back half of the 2016/17 season with the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL, leads the KIJHL in points per game average through three weekends at 3.3 points per game. He’s only played three, and has five goals and five assists in those three games. Summerland will need to defend Kelowna’s top line to the fullest extend if they want success against the rival Chiefs. The Chiefs had been handling all tests up until Saturday night, when they ran into penalty trouble in Chase. The Heat scored six times on the power play on route to a 7-0 victory over Chase’s former franchise, the Chiefs.

Summerland will look to continue their strong play, and it starts with the defensive side of the puck. They’ve done well to limit their turnovers in their first six games, and are doing well to clear the puck from the zone on the first attempt. They’re letting their goaltenders see the puck, and making sure second and third opportunities aren’t available for would be attackers in front of the net. They’re also doing well to stay out of the box, which will come in handy especially against the Coyotes and their propensity to victimize the Steam penalty kill.

Overall, a 5-1 start to the season is what the Steam were looking for in their six games against the Doug Birks Division. They’ll now get fired up to see the Coyotes and the Chiefs for the first of AT LEAST eight times this season, and see how they stand up against the opponents they’ll see the most over the course of the season.

‘Rivalry Weekend’ starts Friday night, a 7:30 puck drop from the Summerland arena against the Osoyoos Coyotes. Joel and I will have full pre-game with audio from both coaches starting at 7:15PM on!





Steam Release One, Sign Two Ahead of Weekend Home Set

As the Summerland Steam begin to settle into the 2017/18 season, like most teams, the early season tinkering continues. Some roster moves can be extremely easy to make at this point in the season, and some can be extremely difficult. Steam Head Coach John Depourcq and General Manager Mike Rigby had to make one of those extremely difficult ones this week when they released 4th year defenseman Cole Williams. Williams, a native of Kelowna, BC, has spent the past three seasons with the Steam, and departs after being a big part of the team that went to the conference finals two seasons ago.

“It’s a sad day when you have to say goodbye to any player, but especially when it’s a player that has the pedigree and the personality of Cole Williams,” Steam GM Mike Rigby said, “But with our situation with our 20-year olds all being defenseman and one goaltender, we felt it was necessary to get more experience up front, which caused us to have to make a very difficult decision with one of our defenceman. We wish Cole the very best in whatever life and hockey have in store next for him, and we thank him for everything he did on and away from the ice for the Summerland Steam during his time here.”

Now a free agent, Williams was (rightfully so) snapped up extremely quickly, signing on the dotted line with the Kelowna Chiefs, his hometown team, less than 24 hours after his release. He was Summerland’s award winner as their Top Defenceman in 2016/17, and he’ll be missed in white, red and black. 

The experience up front for the Summerland Steam that GM Mike Rigby speaks of comes in the form of 20-year old Forward Blake Holowaty.  Holowaty was signed this week after spending the past two seasons in the NOJHL, with hopes he will bring some added firepower to the forward corps of the Summerland Steam. 

A former Osoyoos Coyotes forward, Holowaty was the captain of the NOJHL’s Iroquois Falls Eskimos last season, tallying a total of 19 goals and 60 points in 75 games over parts of two seasons in the league.

A native of Penticton, BC and a product of both Penticton Minor Hockey and the Okanagan Hockey Academy, Holowaty spent the 2014/15 season with the Osoyoos Coyotes before heading out east to play in the SIJHL and NOJHL. In his one KIJHL season he recorded 9 goals and 21 points in 44 games whilst being a rookie on an absolutely loaded Osoyoos Coyotes squad. He’ll bring a big chunk of offense and leadership to a Summerland Steam squad that needs it up front.

On the defensive side of the puck, the Steam have signed South African born Simon Snyman to take the place of the departing Cole Williams. Snyman, 18, is also the product of Penticton Minor Hockey and the Okanagan Hockey Academy. As a defenceman, Snyman tallied 40 points in 100 games played across three divisions of the CSSHL over the past three seasons. He skates well and makes a great first pass, and will surely see some special teams action under the tutelage of Coach John Depourcq and his staff.

Both players will be available to play this weekend, with Summerland hosting a pair of home games on Friday and Saturday night. They’ll host the Sicamous Eagles Friday at 7:30, and the Kamloops Storm on Saturday at 7:30. Both broadcasts will start 15 minutes prior to puck drop, with pregame going at 7:15pm on 

Steam Split Weekend Set, Run for a Cause On Sunday

The Summerland Steam continued to get out to a great start on the second weekend of the KIJHL calendar. After winning both to open the KIJHL season on September 8th and 9th, they split the second weekend of the season with a home loss and a road victory.

On Friday night the Steam faced their stiffest test yet, a bigger, older Revelstoke Grizzlies squad. When speaking with Steam Head Coach John Depourcq prior to the game, he said he was excited to see how his team came out against that kind of team, and said it would be “fun to play against a team who is older and more experienced than we are.”

There wasn’t much fun to be had in the first period of that game on Friday night. Revelstoke goaltender Giovanni Sambrielaz was the star of the show all night long, but not for what he was doing inside his crease. It was his play outside the crease that had everybody in the arena fired up, and it got in the heads of Summerland players early on.

The Steam did not get out to a good start. They took a penalty early on and allowed Revelstoke to take the lead on a powerplay goal from Ullar Wiatzka. Wiatzka was the recipient of a great pass from former Kelowna Chiefs defenceman Joel Scrimbit, now starring for Revelstoke, and Wiatzka was able to snap a wrister over Steam goaltender Matt Huber.

Clark Nelson would extend the Revelstoke lead to 2-0 in the middle stages of period one, and then things really got interesting. Enter Giovanni Sambrielaz.

Not long after the Nelson goal, Sambrielaz ventured behind his goal to retrieve a loose puck. After moving it to a defender, he ‘ran a pick’ on Steam Forward Cody Swan, and referee Bobby Williamson bit on it. He whistled the Steam forward for goaltender interference, which led to a Cole Golden goal to extend the lead to 3-0 after a period.

Remember, two goaltender interference penalties in the same game by the same team results in a suspension for the coach, as well as an ejection and suspension for the player who commits ONLY the second offence.

Once the first call was made, Sambrielaz turned up the dial on the aggression when it came to puck moving. He was trying to initiate contact every single time the puck came near him, and at one point even grabbed a Steam player at the top of the crease and pulled him down on top of himself to try and get a call.

Finally, after Bailey Tamminga exited the penalty box and found himself chasing a loose puck, Sambrielaz got his second call. As Tamminga was all alone, Sambrielaz came charging out of the crease after the loose puck. As the puck and Tamminga crested the top of the circle, Sambrielaz dove forward, spreading out a-la-Dominik Hasek in his prime, and finally got his call.

Tamminga went end over end over top of the Revelstoke goaltender, the arm went up, and Bailey Tamminga was ejected from the hockey game due to incurring the second goaltender interference ‘penalty’ in the same game.

Steam Head Coach John Depourcq had a conversation with Williamson, who told him at the time that it was ‘textbook’. Williamson then arrived at the Steam bench nearly 4:00 of play and another Revelstoke power play goal later to notify the team that he would be speaking to Sambrielaz to say ‘enough is enough’.

After that conversation occurred it was time to play more hockey, and once that happened it was all Summerland. Unfortunately, they’d found themselves in a 4-0 deficit, and were forced to try and mount a third period comeback.

Lukas Jirousek would open the Steam side of the scoring just over a minute into the third period, capitalizing on a miscue by Sambrielaz behind his net. He would then score again six minutes later, but it wasn’t enough to come back and Summerland would go on to lose 4-2.

Though it wasn’t the result they wanted, surely Summerland was happy with their effort in the final 4o minutes against a much more seasoned team. The experience showed the next night, as Summerland continued to work their way through the early part of their schedule in Sicamous.

They bounced back from the night previous, putting a 6-0 beatdown on the hometown Eagles and outshooting them 51-26. Brandon Peacock got his first KIJHL start and posted a shutout, only being really tested a handful of times in what was a pretty lopsided game from start to finish.

Sam Jones (1), Cody Swan (1,2), Everett Scherger (1), Lukas Jirousek (5), and Cole Williams (1) all tallied for the Steam. Newcomer Ryan Allen tallied three assists in the win in just his second game with the Steam after a trade from the Osoyoos Coyotes earlier in the week.

After the bus ride home Saturday night from Sicamous, there was no rest for the Steam as they were up and out in the community on Sunday morning. The team took part in the local Terry Fox Run in downtown Summerland on Sunday as a group, and will get ready for battle again next weekend.

The Steam will go back to work on practice ice before playing a pair of home games on September 22nd and 23rd. They’ll face the same Sicamous Eagles on Friday, before hosting Kamloops on Saturday night. They were able to beat Kamloops 6-2 in their only meeting of the season thus far.

We’ll have pre-game for both of those contests starting on at 7:15 each night before puck drop at 7:30!


Steam Trade Goaltender Breitkreuz to Wranglers Amid Flurry of Roster Activity

The Summerland Steam have traded goaltender Jared Breitkreuz to the 100 Mile House Wranglers. In exchange for the Summerland native, the Steam acquired the playing rights to 18-year old defenceman Nick Nordstrom.

“The decision to trade Jared was extremely difficult,” says Steam General Manager Mike Rigby, “But 100 Mile called looking for a #1 goaltender and specifically asked about Jared’s availability, and with that opportunity in mind for his growth we could not say no.”

Breitkreuz, the Steam’s only Summerland born player, will take the opportunity to get a little more playing time than he would have playing alongside Matt Huber in the Summerland crease.

“Jared has shown that he has the potential to excel at this level,” continued Rigby, “and as hard as it is to say goodbye to a person and player of Jared’s quality and character, it will be good for his development. Both on the ice and off the ice it will be a new experience for him, and it will be great for him to get more playing time in front of great fans like they have in 100 Mile House. The Summerland Steam organization thanks Jared for everything he did for our organization and within our program over the past few years.”

In return for Breitkreuz, the Steam acquired the playing rights to 1999 born defenceman Nick Nordstrom. Nordstrom, from Terrace, BC, spent last season with the 100 Mile House Wranglers.
After acquiring his rights from the Wranglers, Steam General Manager Mike Rigby swung a deal with his fiercest rivals, the Osoyoos Coyotes, sending them Nordstrom’s rights in order to acquire 17-year old defenceman Ryan Allen.
Allen spent the 2016/17 season with the Coyotes, tallying 3 assists in 38 games as a 16-year old while seeing limited duty on an experienced hockey team. He moves well for his size, can bring a physical edge, and sees the ice well, which will all be big assets to the Steam’s defence corps.
At 6’3″, 210lbs, he becomes Summerland’s biggest defender, and figures to slot in somewhere on the left side as early as Friday when the Steam host the Revelstoke Grizzlies.
To fill the vacant goaltender spot left by the trade of Jared Breitkreuz to 100 Mile House, the Summerland Steam have signed 17-year old goaltender Brandon Peacock. Peacock spent the pre-season with the Steam and looked very good in his one appearance. A resident of Quesnel, BC, Peacock has spent the past three seasons in the Okanagan Hockey Academy program. Last season he posted a 3.24 GAA and .896% save percentage while playing for the Okanagan Hockey Academy Midget Varsity White squad where he put up a 12-6-1 record.
Summerland will take the ice again on Friday, September 15th at the Summerland Arena when the Revelstoke Grizzlies come to town.

Rookies Power Steam to First Weekend Surge

The start of a new season is always an exciting time of year. The hustle and bustle of getting everything prepped and ready, getting new players situated with their surroundings both on the ice and away from the arena, and getting them familiar with one another is a challenge every team faces in the early going. For the Summerland Steam, this season brings a whole lot more of that than they’re used to.

For the first time in the last four seasons, the Steam start the season with more rookies than they do veterans. A young group is something that the coaching staff and team personnel were both excited and nervous about going into Friday’s home opener against the 100 Mile House Wranglers, and they showed themselves well in a 4-3 victory.

Scott Robinson opened the scoring for the Steam on the power play, taking a feed from Steam rookie Niall Lawrie and beating Wranglers goaltender Hayden Lyons to give Summerland a 1-0 lead. Cody Swan would draw the second assist. 

Cairo Rogers, a native of Penticton BC, would then get in on the scoring act in the final minutes of period one. He found himself wide open in front of the Wranglers’ net and did well to pot a pass from fellow Steam rookie Riley Smoler to put the Steam up 2-0. Scott Robinson would draw the second assist on Rogers’ 1st KIJHL goal. 

Once down 2-0, the Wranglers fought back. Travis Gook scored on a long point shot in the final minute of the first, and Todd Bredo would do the same nearly five minutes into the second, tying the game at 2. 

Riley Smoler would take matters into his own hands in the third, scoring the only two goals of the period to push Summerland back into a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Matt Huber made 19 saves for his first victory of the season, and the Steam looked to continue rolling on the road in Kamloops on Saturday night.

Kamloops Memorial Arena has been kind to the Steam in the limited number of times they’ve played there, and it was again Saturday night as they skated away with a 6-2 win. 

Peachland, BC native Ethan Grover led the way for Summerland with two goals and three points, while Luke Jirousek netted two goals of his own. Scott Robinson and Morey Babakaiff added a goal each, and Matt Huber continued his strong start to the season with a 21 save effort for his second win in as many nights. 

The Steam were able to take advantage of a Kamloops team that had two forwards playing defense on the first weekend of the season, and walked out of Kamloops with 2 points and a perfect weekend. 

Summerland will go back to practice ice this week in search of more team bonding and work with Head Coach John Depourcq’s systems. They led the league in scoring 10 goals over two games on opening weekend, which will surprise some, but it’s something to build on nonetheless. They’ll see game action again next Friday, when the Revelstoke Grizzlies pay a visit at 7:30pm.