One Win, One Tie Send Steam to Nine Day Break

 

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Summerland players celebrate one of two power play goals Friday night in Osoyoos, propelling Summerland to a 2-1 victory. Photo: Victoria Rich Photography

 

A trip to Osoyoos sometime in December hasn’t been a reason for joy for the Summerland Steam in recent experience. Generally, the Steam have a bit of a tough time with the Osoyoos Coyotes, but they got a boost in their visit this past Friday night that was a welcome sight. It didn’t come in the addition of one of their injured players returning to the lineup, but it was their power play that propelled them to a big 2-1 victory.

As a broadcaster and a guy that watches just about every game the Summerland Steam have played over the past five seasons, I can tell you the power play hasn’t been the difference in a game in a long time. Certainly not in the past two seasons, but it was on Friday.

The Coyotes’ power play, of course, opened the scoring and let the teddy bears fly thanks to Carter Shannon’s 14th of the season just 2:40 into the hockey game. It would be the only goal the Coyotes would score on the night, despite six more power play opportunities and 36 total shots on net. Matt Huber was the reason the puck stayed out, and probably should have been named the game star after making 35 stops.

Morey Babakaiff would score his 5th of the season, on the power play, with 6:37 remaining in the second period to tie the game at 1. The Steam power play, which recently broke an 0-for-51 two weekends ago against Princeton, has simplified a bit and found success. The goal came from a simple shot from the point, Babakaiff locating a rebound before Coyotes goaltender Daniel Paul could, and tucking it in.

Blake Holowaty would then score in the third period, with 10:36 remaining, on the same play. This time though, there was no rebound to locate. Holowaty took a pass up at the top of the ‘umbrella’ from Brogan Lautard, picked his corner, and didn’t miss, potting his 17th of the season and giving Summerland a 2-1 lead.

That’s where the scoring would stop, although the Steam would keep pushing forward and not allow much from the Coyotes to try and get back on the board. Huber had to make one note-worthy save in the last ten minutes, but that would be it and Summerland would skate away with their first victory of the season in four tries against Osoyoos.

With just one more road trip on the way before the holiday break, the Summerland Steam then loaded the bus on Tuesday to head for Princeton and a date with the Princeton Posse.

Princeton, sitting in third place in the Okanagan Division, opened the scoring on a power play late in the first period. Lane French would notch his 11th of the season with 3:38 remaining in the frame, assisted by Posse captain Drew Carter and newcomer and former Kelowna Chief Jonathan Lee.

The Posse power play goal in the first period, the only tally, would be met by a Summerland power play goal in the second period. Babakaiff would get the goal, his 6th of the season, on almost a mirror image play from Osoyoos on Friday. Blake Holowaty would put the shot in from the point, Babakaiff would locate the rebound, and put it behind Posse netminder Bobby Milligan to tie the game at 1.

The Posse would then strike back, this time from the captain, Drew Carter. On another Posse power play, Carter was able to take a pass from Lane French at the top of the circles, and blast home his 11th of the season to give his team a 2-1 lead.

The lead would hold until the middle of period three. Special teams was the flavor of the day for these teams, as Summerland would capitalize on another power play with 13:40 remaining. Simon Snyman would get the goal, his fourth of the season. Blake Holowaty would snake his way through the neutral zone and over the Princeton blue line before dropping off to Snyman, who would wait for a crowd to form in front of the goal. He then changed his shooting angle ever so slightly at the right point, and sent one into the top corner over the blocker of Miligan to tie the game at two.

That’s where the score line would stay through regulation time. Each team recorded a point, and Summerland awarded another power play at the end of regulation as Jonathan Lee was assessed a minor for roughing. Summerland could do nothing with that power play, and would then have to kill a couple penalties of their own to nurse the clock down to 0:00 of double OT. As they did that, however, referee Kevin Crowell awarded Posse forward Lane French a penalty shot at the final buzzer.

French would wind his way in, but was met by Matt Huber at the top of the crease, who made a blocker save to preserve the 2-2 tie.

Each team would get a point, which propelled Summerland into sole possession of first place in the Okanagan Division headed to the Christmas break. The Osoyoos Coyotes do hold a game in hand, and will be the first opponent Summerland sees after Christmas, with a 7:35 pm start at the Sun Bowl in Osoyoos on December 29th.

The Steam and the Coyotes seem destined to be intertwined in a race for the Okanagan Division pennant for the fourth season in a row, and face each other four times down the stretch. The Division standings look like this as the Steam head for their nine day holiday break:

As shown, the Steam and Coyotes are eight and seven points clear of third place Princeton, respectively, and each have a couple of games in hand as well. It’s a safe bet that they’ll finish 1 and 2, barring disaster of course, which could potentially mean a second round meeting in the KIJHL playoffs for the fifth season in a row.

When the teams come out of the break on December 29th, Summerland will face an extremely tough set of games. They’ll start with Osoyoos on the road on December 29th, followed by another meeting with Princeton at the SOEC in Penticton at 7PM on Thursday, January 4th, 2018.

They’ll then travel to 100 Mile House, Princeton, and play a ‘destination’ contest against the Coyotes once again in Oliver on January 14th. They’ll return to the Summerland Arena on January 19th, 2018 when the team hosts the Chase Heat.

 

On behalf of the entire Summerland Steam organization, we would like to wish all of our players, fans, families, and volunteers a very happy and safe holiday season. Merry Christmas!

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