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.