Steam Down Chiefs With Rematch Looming Saturday

The Summerland Steam and the Kelowna Chiefs don’t like each other. That much can be said as fact. When you play a team nearly thirty times in two seasons including playoffs, that can happen, and it usually produces pretty good hockey. It has so far in 2017/18, as the Steam and the Chiefs met for the third time on Tuesday night at the Summerland Arena.

Their first meeting was a 5-2 Summerland victory that included an empty net goal, and the last two have been one goal Summerland wins, with the last one coming in overtime and Tuesday night’s game ending in a 4-3 score in regulation time.

It’s a matchup of 1st and 4th in the Okanagan Division standings, but these games are always tight and filled with fire.

Summerland came in after going 1-1 on the weekend, falling 4-2 in Chase on Friday before coming up with a big 5-2 win over Princeton at home on Saturday night. They’d been doing it recently without four big time bodies in their lineup as Blake Holowaty, Luke Jirousek, Morey Babakaiff, and Bailey Tamminga had been out of the lineup dealing with various ailments.

Tamminga and Babakaiff returned to the lineup on Tuesday, giving a big boost to Summerland both on offense and defense. The Chiefs are having their share of injury trouble as well, as they played on Tuesday with just 15 skaters.

Despite having the short bench, the Chiefs got out to a good start as 18-year old rookie standout Juanre Naude beat Matt Huber high over the glove just 3:15 into the first period on the Chiefs first power play. Naude made a great solo dash up the ice, beat two Summerland players and used his speed to get around the outside edge, before beating Matt Huber high on the short side to give the Chiefs the early advantage.

The first fifteen minutes of the game was all Kelowna Chiefs, outshooting the Steam 8-2 in that time span and being led up front by big minute man Brendan Mongey. Mongey, counted on to play all over the ice in the absence of injured Chiefs captain Brett Witala, was all over the place in the first period. He started the game centering a line between Naude on the right side, and former Summerland Steam defender Cole Williams on the left side. Williams, normally a defenseman, has made the move up front for the time being as the Chiefs skate missing five forwards.

With Kelowna dominating play through the first period and doing a great job using their speed through the neutral zone, it looked like it might be a long night for the Summerland Steam. Just as the Chiefs were about to finish a great period of hockey, a myriad of penalties allowed Summerland to gain some momentum back. These weren’t penalties that resulted in man advantage situations, but penalties that took both Mongey and Chiefs defender Jarin Sutton off the ice. Sutton and Ethan Grover got tied up and were each assessed two minutes, while Mongey stepped off the bench to involve himself in an altercation and picked up a 10-minute misconduct for his trouble.

Summerland was then able to exploit the middle of the ice to tie the game at 1 in the final minute of the first period, courtesy of Sammy Gabriel’s first KIJHL goal with just :47 on the clock. A good hold at the offensive blue line by Niall Lawrie started the play, and Sam Jones got three cracks at a shot before a puck finally ricocheted to Gabriel in the slot. He was able to beat Chiefs starting goaltender Aris Anagnastopoulos on the blocker side to tie the game and send the teams to the dressing room locked at a goal apiece.

Summerland had a much better second period than they did in the first. They carried the majority of the play, but found themselves trailing when Julian Fodor notched his second of the year for the Chiefs just 4:12 into the frame. Morey Babakaiff would draw the Steam back even just 2:08 later, taking a cross-zone pass from Bailey Tamminga and beating Anagnostopoulos on the short side to tie the game at 2.

Summerland would then take the lead late in the second period thanks to their captain, Sam Jones. He received a pass up the right wing wall from forward Liam McLaren, and was able to dance two Chiefs defenders before making a perfectly placed shot past a standing Anagnostopoulos to give the Steam a 3-2 lead.

That lead would stay safe through the remainder of the second and most of the third period, and Summerland would have a chance to build on it courtesy of this hit from Chiefs F Brendan Mongey:

Mongey would be assessed a 5-minute major for Head Contact plus the attached game misconduct, as well as a Match Penalty on the play, and resulted in a 5-minute power play for Summerland. The victim of the hit, Steam defenseman Bailey Tamminga, was helped off the ice and down the tunnel where he went through the appropriate testing for a concussion. He was able to return to the game about twelve minutes after the hit, but only played a couple more shifts on the night.

Summerland would get nothing out of their power play, despite having 2 minutes of 5-on-3 during that span, and the Chiefs gained some momentum from the kill. They pushed forward, and finally broke through thanks to the recently returned Aidan Bar-Lev-Wise. He picked up a loose puck in the right wing corner and from an angle we all thought impossible, slipped it into the top corner on the short side above Matt Huber to tie the game at three with 6:12 remaining.

It looked like we were destined for another overtime matchup, as neither team looked very interested in taking chances at goal in the final few minutes. Summerland, however, got the opportunity they needed with just under three minutes remaining. Morey Babakaiff was able to pick off a clearing attempt from Kelowna goaltender Aris Anagnostopoulos on the left wing boards. He had a shot at goal that Anagnostopoulos did a great job to get back in the net for, but the rebound popped straight out front to a waiting Ethan Grover in the high slot. He made no mistake, pounding his fifth of the season into the back of the net to give the Steam their lead back with 2:45 to play.

It was all Summerland needed as they would hang on for the 4-3 victory thanks to a blocked shot by Everett Scherger, who used his face to deflect a puck away at the final buzzer to secure the Summerland victory. The two points saw Summerland to have their lead atop the Okanagan Division climb to nine points. That nine point gap over the second place Osoyoos Coyotes could evaporate very quickly, however, as the Coyotes have built up four games in hand. They’ll use one of those games when they take on the Princeton Posse on Friday night while Summerland is idle.

The Steam will take Friday night off this week and enjoy Summerland’s 30th Annual Festival of Lights. Lights come on at 7, but with all the fun activities and food happening downtown, it will surely be a full night event that will end with fireworks sometime between 8 and 9pm.

The Steam are back in action again Saturday night at home against these same Kelowna Chiefs, and I’d venture to guess that you won’t want to miss it. Joel and I will have full pre-game starting at 7:15pm on http://www.playfullscreen.com ahead of a 7:30pm opening face-off at the Summerland Arena.

 

 

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