Chiefs Win Return Match as Division Standings Tighten

After a 4-3 victory over the Kelowna Chiefs on Tuesday night last week, the Summerland Steam expected them to come back hard on Saturday night looking for a victory. Meeting for the second time in under a week and fourth time in 47 days, the two teams have become familiar with one another and are playing each other extremely tough as of late. Summerland had won all three meetings coming into Saturday night, with all three being closely played games.

Both teams being incredibly shorthanded offensively on Saturday night, the game left a little to be desired in that offensive category. Kelowna was without leading goal scorer and captain Brett Witala, as they will be for some time as he recuperates from a broken thumb/hand, as well as diminutive forward Brendan Mongey. Mongey, as talented as they come offensively and a gifted special teams player, was suspended 6-games by the KIJHL for this hit on Summerland defenseman Bailey Tamminga in the previous matchup on Tuesday night:

The Chiefs were also missing Lane Paddison, Devin Sutton, and starting goaltender Aris Anagnostoupolos. Max Gaudet would start in place of Anagnostopoulos and be forced to make just 19 saves.

For Summerland they remained without Luke Jirousek, Blake Holowaty, and Everett Scherger, as well as defenceman Noah Kallichuk. All are listed as day-to-day, with the hope that all will be available as Summerland starts their December schedule on Friday against North Okanagan in Armstrong. Defenceman Ryan Allen left Saturday night’s game with a lower-body injury and did not return, leaving his status for this coming weekend questionable at this point in time.

On Saturday night against the Chiefs, it was clear early on that whoever was going to win was going to have to grind one out. The game didn’t have a lot of flow, and scoring chances came few and far between as the teams skated to a 0-0 draw after the first period.

Cody Swan would net his 14th of the season near the midway mark of the period, managing to be the last one to touch the puck out of a scrum before it found the back of the Kelowna goal. Morey Babakaiff and Scott Robinson would draw assists on the goal that put Summerland up 1-0.

Kaden Stewart would reply for the Chiefs, converting on a power play with 4:41 remaining in the second period to tie the game at 1 after 40 minutes. That would be the only scoring we would see, netting each team a point as we headed for 4on4 overtime.

In the extra frame, former Summerland Steam defender Cole Williams would factor in setting up Tyler Love on a 2-on-1. Williams picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and was able to burn down the left side before feeding Love a cross-crease pass that he made no mistake on to give the Chiefs the 2-1 overtime win.

The three point game between Summerland and Kelowna tightened things up considerably in the Okanagan Division standings. Summerland picked up a crucial point and actually extended their lead over the Osoyoos Coyotes to eight points, as the ‘Yotes fell 7-5 to the 100 Mile House Wranglers. This came one night after the Coyotes put the boots to the Princeton Posse by an 8-0 score at the Princeton & District Arena on Friday night.

The Chiefs were the only Okanagan Division team to pick up four points on the weekend, vaulting them into a tie for second place with the Coyotes. Princeton was able to beat the North Okanagan Knights by a 6-3 score on Saturday to keep pace, but fall to fourth place, a point behind Kelowna and Osoyoos.

As mentioned, Summerland has managed to maintain their division lead against one of the toughest divisions in the KIJHL. They’ve done so while battling the injury bug and struggling on special teams, which is impressive against the quality of competition they’ve been up against. The power play has been particularly concerning for Summerland, in fact they may just want to begin declining them, as they’re mired in an 0/46 slump. Their last power play goal came October 27, 2017 in the third period against the Chiefs, by Luke Jirousek.

They’ll likely be working on getting back to basics in practice this week, trying to get pucks and traffic to the front of the goal to see if they can get an ugly one to bump the slump on Friday when they pay a visit to the North Okanagan Knights. It’s a big weekend for the Steam as they play two road games, in Armstrong to face the Knights Friday and in Princeton to play the Posse on Saturday. It’s imperative they come up with four points in those two games if they want to see their lead continue to stay at eight points out front.

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