Steam Look to Snap Skid Vs Coyotes

For the first time in a long time, the Summerland Steam find themselves on a sort of losing streak. With a 9-3 drubbing at the hands of the Osoyoos Coyotes two Sunday’s ago (January 14), a 4-1 loss to the Chase Heat on Friday, and a 4-3 OT loss to the Kelowna Chiefs on Saturday night, the red, white and black clad Steam have lost three games in a row.

Heading into Saturday’s game in Kelowna, December 16th/17th, 2016 was the last time Summerland had even lost two in a row, and the Chiefs made it three thanks to Devin Sutton’s power play goal in OT that sealed the deal.

It’s been a long time since the Steam have lost three straight games. To save you going back through the archives to find it, I did, and the last time the team lost three in a row they actually lost four in a row, on a Kootenay road trip in mid-October of 2015.

That’s a pretty good run, and they’ll look to get back on track with a pair of games against divisional rivals coming this weekend. They’ll see the Osoyoos Coyotes on Friday at home, before heading for Armstrong on Saturday night to play the North Okanagan Knights.

If Summerland has any hopes of catching the Coyotes, and avoiding the suddenly high-powered Kelowna Chiefs in the first round of the KIJHL Playoffs, it has to start with two wins this weekend. The Steam sit 5 points back of the first place Coyotes, while the Chiefs are all of a sudden lurking just six points behind.

The secret to beating the Coyotes is long gone, and that’s to keep them off special teams. They feast on the power play and they don’t like to get hit, which means the Steam will have to find the physical line, ride it, and hope for a better officiating performance than the last time the two teams met, which was the worst I’ve ever seen.

Despite the season series score line between Summerland and Osoyoos this season (1-5 record, -14 goal differential), the games have been close and fun to watch. That fourteen goal difference can mostly be accounted for in two games, the 9-3 loss on January 14 and a 7-3 loss on October 2 8th. And the January 14th game was a 3-2 game headed to the third period.

If you strike those from the record, Summerland is losing close games to Osoyoos, and it’s time they find a way over the hump. They need to be physical on the forecheck, air tight in the defensive zone, and the emotions have to stay in check. If that happens, they’re right there with the first place team in the conference and they know it.

They’ll have to do it this Friday night without one of their best two-way forwards in 20-year old Blake Holowaty. Holowaty was hit with an automatic one game suspension after he was ejected from last Saturday’s game in Kelowna with 1:25 to play for checking from behind. He’ll be set to return Saturday in Armstrong when the Steam play the North Okanagan Knights.

The Steam did get Luke Jirousek back last weekend, and he scored a power play goal in each game despite the two losses. He’s a big asset to the Summerland Steam with his ability to use his body to create opportunities, and his blistering shot to convert those opportunities. They will likely count on him with Holowaty out on Friday night to play a few more minutes against a strong opponent in the Coyotes.

For the Coyotes, they’ll start their weekend early with a visit to Princeton on Wednesday to play the Posse. They then host Sicamous on Saturday night in Osoyoos. They’ve been without a couple of key pieces as of late as well, as Judd Repole and Cody Allen have both been missing from the Coyotes’ lineup due to (presumably) injury.

We’ll see if any of the injured on either side are available for Friday night’s game at the Summerland Arena, which should be a doozy.

Joel and I will have some help in the broadcast booth, as Mike Swanson will return and put on a headset after a couple of years away. Mike spent the 2014/15 and 15-16 seasons in the broadcast booth with us, before taking last year and most of this year off.

We’ll be on for pre-game starting at 7:15pm ahead of 7:30pm puck drop from the Summerland Arena.

Steam, Heat Set to Face Off Friday 

When the Chase Heat make their second and final trip of the season to the Summerland Arena this coming Friday, expect the game to have a bit of ‘local flavour’.

Summerland native Jared Breitkreuz, 20, is expected to tend goal for the Heat in his return to the Summerland Arena Friday night. Breitkreuz, who came up through the Summerland Minor Hockey program, spent the 2016/17 season with his hometown Steam. In 10 appearances for Summerland during the 2016/17 season, Breitkreuz posted a. 9-0-1 record, a 1.84 goals against average and a .912% save percentage.
He began the 2017/18 season in Summerland before being dealt to the 100 Mile House Wranglers to pursue an opportunity to get some more playing time in an expanded role this past September. Shortly after his trade from Summerland to 100 Mile House, Breitkreuz got the call from the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials.

They needed an affiliate with one of their goaltenders on the injured list, and the Summerlander was the guy they wanted. Breitkreuz ended up spending almost a month with the Cents, making 2 appearances and picking up his first BCHL victory. He maintained a .913% save percentage in those two BCHL appearances.

After his return from the BCHL, Breitkreuz provided the Wranglers with a steady goaltending option along with Hayden Lyons. The return of veteran Jakob Severson, however, had Breitkreuz in a familiar spot. He was traded for the second time this season at the beginning of December, when he was acquired by the Chase Heat.

Since his arrival, he’s made five appearances for the Heat, posting a 3-2 record to go with a 3.15 goals against average, and .900% save percentage for a team that sits 2nd in their division.

Expect Breitkreuz to start Friday, while counterpart (and Top Prospects Game representative) Conor Webb will likely go Saturday night in Osoyoos.

In other news for the Summerland Steam, they’ve dipped into the local well for themselves yet again, signing ’99 born forward Brett Wilson.

Wilson, another product of Summerland Minor Hockey, was an affiliate player for the Steam during the 2016/17 season. He caught on with the North Okanagan Knights to start this season, playing 17 games in Armstrong before joining the Steam just prior to January 10th. Wilson, who’s twin brother Sean played alongside him in North Okanagan, is the younger brother of former Steam Forward Kendell Wilson. 

The elder Wilson, Kendell (’94) still holds the franchise record for regular season appearances by a skater with 170.

Brett comes to the Steam looking to add a little grit to the forward group. He possesses good size, moves well for how big he is, and is steady on the puck. He’ll be a guy that will get in on the forecheck and use his body to cause other teams’ defencemen a whole world of problems, which is something to look forward to. 

Wilson played his first game as a member of the Summerland Steam last Sunday in Oliver, and is expected to be available to Head Coach John Depourcq this weekend when the team hosts Chase on Friday and travels to Kelowna on Saturday night.
Puck drop on Friday goes at 7:30pm, with pre-game starting on playfullscreen.com at 7:15pm with myself and Joel Barg.  

Steam Outnumbered in Loss to Coyotes

It’s been a roller coaster of up’s and down’s in the past week for the Summerland Steam. They started the weekend early, with a Wednesday night meeting in Princeton against the hometown Posse. It was a Game similar to the last visit to Princeton, where Summerland dominated possession and zone time, but spent a lot of time shorthanded and were able to hang around.

Through 2 periods they were down 2-0, but that changed quickly as goals from Ethan Grover and Morey Babakaiff tied things at two early in the third. Both teams would battle through penalty trouble, going back and forth without converting on the power play.

It looked like Princeton was going to get their chance with 1:16 remaining, as Summerland took the final penalty of the game and were forced to kill. Blake Holowaty, however, had different ideas on how it was going to end. Holowaty forced a turnover at the Summerland blue line and took off up the right side.

He took a perfect pass from Morey Babakaiff, and went in alone on Princeton goaltender Bobby Milligan, beating him over the glove hand shoulder to put Summerland up 3-2 and ultimately seal the victory.

Summerland then sat and watched as they had Friday and Saturday off. Of course, every KIJHL team had Saturday off, as their best young players came together in Kelowna to play in the 2018 KIJHL Top Prospects Showcase. The Kootenay Conference got the better of the Okanagan Shuswap squad, which included Summerland’s Cody Swan and Luke Jirousek, by a 7-3 score.

On Sunday, Summerland got right back to work with a visit to the tiny ice in Oliver, and a meeting with the Osoyoos Coyotes. It didn’t go well for them, though it started with them opening the scoring. Cory Loring notched his 12th of the season and third in four games as a member of the Steam, to put them up 1-0 midway through the first period. 

Enter referee Dave McMann. 

I don’t normally harp on referees, because it’s a thankless job and without them, we have no game. Unfortunately, however, on Sunday afternoon we watched another game, which should have been one of the best of the year, be marred by controversy surrounding a referee being the talking point. Good referees tend to make themselves as small as possible, only chiming in when absolutely necessary, keeping a subtle, yet strong command of the happenings on the ice while enforcing the rules to the best of their abilities. 

That was not the case on Sunday afternoon. 

McMann began the game allowing the Steam and the Coyotes to wail away on one another for the first ten or so minutes, with the bare minimum being called penalties. All of a sudden, just past the ten minute mark, while under derress from both benches and both sides of the stands, the things that were going uncalled in the first ten minutes began being called. It stayed that way for the remainder of the game, and the Coyotes got caught less than Summerland did. 

Neither team was more guilty than the other. Both were physical, mean, and did some very silly things to one another, which is conducive to small ice and tight quarters. Summerland just got caught more. Simple as that. 

All afternoon on both sides of the building I heard fans pining for the 4-man system recently put in place by the VIJHL league wide. While it’s a great idea, in theory, I think it would be more prevalent to add more officiating training for current officials, before adding more demand to a refereeing system that already struggles to find officials. Games like these need 4 officials, no doubt, but if three is the only option then they surely need to be better equipped than the crew this past Sunday. 

The game that started fast, physical, and evenly played ended in a 9-3 rout for the Coyotes, thanks to 6 power play goals on 14 (!!) power play opportunities. 

Summerland wasn’t able to convert on their four chances, only one of which was a full 2 minutes. The other three came when Osoyoos took penalties while already on the power play (which they don’t do often). Summerland was undisciplined in this game, no doubt, but based on the way it was played from both sides, the penalty differential probably SHOULD have been 4, not 10.

Colin Bell and Austin Cleaver each registered hat tricks, while Seth Kreise scored twice and Hunter Johnson added the other for Osoyoos. 

Cory Loring, Sam Jones, and Bailey Tamminga’s first KIJHL goal accounted for all of Summerland’s scoring in the game.

The Steam will go back to work Friday, going head to head with the Chase Heat at the Summerland Arena. They’ll be looking to put the loss last Sunday in the rear view mirror, and get to work chasing the Coyotes for first place in the division. They now trail by four points, which can be made up pretty easily if they win their remaining two meetings with the Coyotes, both in Summerland on January 26th and February 12th.

Steam Head To Princeton Looking For 3rd Straight Victory

📸 Victoria Rich Photography 

After two wins in an extended set last weekend, the Summerland Steam will arrive in Princeton tonight looking for a third straight victory. They were able to come up with a 6-3 victory over the Princeton Posse in their last meeting, which was just last Thursday night at the SOEC in Penticton. Summerland got goals from six different goal scorers as Everett Scherger, Cairo Rogers, Scott Robinson, Liam McLaren, Cody Swan, and Cory Loring all found twine, while Bailey Tamminga chimed in with three assists and Blake Holowaty added two assists. Matt Huber made 28 saves for his 16th victory of the season, while also taking Summerland’s all-time franchise record for minutes played from his brother Brett at 5059.

Summerland then followed that up with a gritty 2-1 road victory in 100 Mile House on Saturday night, courtesy of a goal each from Loring and Swan and a 30-save performance from Huber. Loring notched his second goal in as many games since his arrival from the Grand Forks Border Bruins, and added an assist on Swan’s game winner with 11:04 remaining in the third period. Swan and Loring, childhood friends from the Williams Lake area, have formed a formidable trio with Summerland’s leading scorer, Scott Robinson, to form one of the most potent top lines in the KIJHL. In the two games since Loring’s arrival, the line has combined for nine points and controlled the majority of the play when they’re on the ice.

The Steam will be looking to start a streak when they head for Princeton on Wednesday evening, trying to keep pace with the division leading Osoyoos Coyotes who sit just two points ahead in the standings. Summerland is finally healthy, icing nearly their full lineup in 100 Mile House on Saturday night for the first time in nearly three months. 

Luke Jirousek, Ryan Allen and Everett Scherger have all returned recently from injury, while Sam Jones returned Saturday night after serving his league imposed two game suspension from prior to the holiday break. The only one they’re waiting on is Gavin Lawrie, who remains out with an upper body injury. 

Leading into January 10th, the CJHL trading deadline, Summerland has only made two moves. They brought in Cory Loring from Grand Forks, as well as goaltender Max Sidelnik. Sidelnik, from the Los Angeles, CA area, was signed on Boxing Day after being released from the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins. Other than those two, not much more is expected from GM Mike Rigby, Head Coach John Depourcq and his staff, who just recently got the lineup back to it’s full potential. 

Getting Scherger, Jirousek, and Allen back from long absences is almost like acquiring a ton of talent at the deadline, and they didn’t even have to make a move to do so. They do have the availability to make one or two moves, should an opportunity come available that the coaching staff and management group feel improves the team heading towards what is almost surely a clash with the Kelowna Chiefs for the fourth year in a row in the first round of the KIJHL Playoffs.

Other teams around the division have made some improvements as well. The Osoyoos Coyotes made a trade on January 9th, sending ’98 born forward Cam Welch to the VIJHL’s Victoria Cougars in exchange for ’99 born defenseman Sunil Sahota. Sahota spent the 2015/16 with the Princeton Posse as a 16-year old, before moving on to Chase and Columbia Valley in 2016/17. He then landed with the Cougars this season, and didn’t tally a point in nine games there.

He moves well, distributes the puck at a high level, and makes the Coyotes defense corps a lot more dangerous. He fills a need that a lot of people have said they thought the Coyotes were missing this season, a puck moving defender.

In year’s past we’ve seen the Coyotes boast talent like Dan Stone and Austin Steger, causing teams a lot of problems jumping into plays to create offense. Sahota will fill that need to a degree, and perhaps if he plays his 19 and 20-year old year’s he may turn into that player, but for now he’s a good puck mover and skater who will jump in and help the Coyotes in a big way.

The Kelowna Chiefs also made moves, acquiring the playing rights to ’97 born goaltender Joe McLeod, formerly of the Castlegar Rebels. McLeod, who spent 2015/16 with the Rebels and posted a 2.25 Goals Against Average and .934% Save percentage in 21 appearances, has been in Junior A ever since. He made 11 appearances at the end of 2015/16 for the Prince George Spruce Kings of the BCHL, before catching on with the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder to start 2016/17. As far as Junior B goes McLeod is an elite level talent, and shores up a position the Chiefs have struggled with all season long. He’s made three starts since his acquisition, and picked up three wins.

The Chiefs also got a big boost up front with the return of ’99 born forward Brody Dale. Dale, who left in the middle of last season to join the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL, started this season with the Chiefs, tallying six goals and seven assists in seven games played. He then took an opportunity to go out east to join his older brother Brayden with the OCN Blizzard in the MJHL, putting up eight goals and 16 points in 25 apperances.

It’s not all roses for the Chiefs, as they did have one player leave heading towards the deadline. That player is Jarin Suttion, their power play quarterback and most mobile and dynamic defender. His mobility and flare for offense has landed him a full time spot with the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies. Congratulations to Jarin on his accomplishment and drive to get to the next level.

For the Summerland Steam, their focus will likely not be on any further moves as the deadline passes today. If a move makes sense it will likely involve adding some depth, and perhaps a little ‘sandpaper’, if you will, to their current forward group. 

They’ve got a stretch drive to think about where they’ll spend a lot of time on the road. Only five home games remain, which means they’re on the road nine more times including tonight’s contest in Princeton.

The Posse have proven themselves a formidable opponent this year, playing Summerland and all other teams tough every single night. They’re getting good goaltending from the tandem of Bobby Milligan and Danyon Lorencz, they don’t take a shift off, and they capitalize on their opportunities.

They currently sit 4th in the division, on a collision course with the Osoyoos Coyotes in the first round of the KIJHL Playoffs should the standings remain the same as they stand today. They’ve played Summerland to just a 1-4-1-0 record this season, but all the games in the season series have been close, tight checking, and physical. The Posse thrive on home ice, because they’re built for it. It’s a small building, small ice surface, and generally a fairly good crowd making a lot of noise for their hometown team. It’s not an easy place to play, the Princeton and District Arena, and Summerland will need to find a way to come up with two points if they want to keep pace with an Osoyoos Coyotes team who is beginning to look less and less beatable as the season continues.

Puck drop tonight from the Princeton & District Arena goes at 7PM. For Summerland fans, based on the weather report I’d recommend not making that drive, but catching the broadcast on Playfullscreen.com with George Elliot instead.

Steam Acquire Loring From Grand Forks 

The Summerland Steam Junior Hockey Club announced Thursday the acquisition of ’99 born forward Cory Loring from the Grand Forks Border Bruins. The trade is not the first this season for Loring, who was traded by the Chase Heat to the Border Bruins in December in exchange for Brady Marzocco.

📸 KIJHL.ca

Loring, an 18-year old forward from Williams Lake, BC, joins Summerland with 66 games of KIJHL experience under his belt, split between the Castlegar Rebels, Chase Heat and Grand Forks Border Bruins over the past two seasons. This season, he’s amassed 9 goals and 29 points on 34 games, including three points in four games with the Border Bruins since his acquisition in early December.

Regarding the acquisition of Cory Loring, Steam GM Mike Rigby had this to say:

“Cory will bring a lot to our hockey club. He competes hard, he’s a big body that we feel will mesh well with our forward group, and he’ll provide a little ‘bite’ if you will to our forecheck. We look forward to having him, though we had to give up a very good hockey player to get him.”

That very good hockey player that Rigby speaks of is Riley Smoler, who moves to the Kootenay Conference and the Neil Murdoch Division’s 4th place Border Bruins. He’ll join a Border Bruins team who battles with the Spokane Braves for the final playoff spot in the division, and likely has the task of staring down the league leading Castlegar Rebels in the first round of the KIJHL Playoffs. The Rebels have won fourteen games in a row, propelling them to first place in the division and the conference, based in win percentage.

📸 Victoria Rich Photography

Smoler, an 18-year old from Whitehorse, YT, has 10 goals and 25 points in his Rookie season in the KIJHL. He has a nose for the net and a knack for having the puck on his stick, and should help the Border Bruins in the offensive department.

“We’re sad to see Riley go,” Said Rigby, “He’s a great hockey player with a lot of talent, and we wish him all the best as he moves on to Grand Forks. On behalf of the Summerland Steam organization, we’d like to thank Riley for his time and efforts both on the ice and in the community over the past several months.”

Loring will wear number 11 upon his arrival in Summerland, and should be ready for action when the team hosts the Princeton Posse at the SOEC in Penticton on Thursday night.

Swan, Jirousek To Represent Steam at Top Prospects Showcase

For the second straight year, the KIJHL will host a Top Prospects Showcase. Hosted by the Kelowna Chiefs and the Rutland Arena, the Top Prospects game will feature the best players in the league aged 16-18 in the form of the Kootenay Conference squaring off against the Okanagan Shuswap Conference.

The KIJHL announced the rosters for the game, to be played January 13th at 2PM at Rutland Arena (West), on Tuesday and the Summerland Steam will send two representatives. Those two representatives are 18-year old Cody Swan and 17-year old Lukas Jirousek.

 

Luke Jirousek

Jirousek, out injured since November 17th with an undisclosed injury, is said to be close to return and will hopefully be ready to play in the Showcase on January 13th. The 17-year old from Whitehorse, YT has played just 18 of Summerland’s 31 games to date, and has put up nine goals and 15 points in those contests. He uses his big body and heavy shot to create opportunities for himself and offense for his team, and that’s been missed by the Summerland Steam while he’s been out with injury.

cody_swan-crop

Swan, meanwhile, has been the model of consistency for a Summerland Steam hockey club that’s lost A LOT of man games due to injury this season. The 18-year old from 150 Mile House, BC has played all 31 of Summerland’s games thus far, amassing 15 goals and 41 points to sit 2nd in team scoring. He’s done that while also only accumulating eight penalty minutes, and playing in all key situations for Head Coach John Depourcq and his staff.

Jirousek and Swan will join Team Okanagan/Shuswap as they take on Team Kootenay. The rosters were released yesterday, and there’s some pretty top-end talent throughout both lineups, as you’ll see.

 

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Not a lot can be said for the Kootenay Conference roster, as they don’t travel to play the Okanagan Conference at all during the 2017/18 KIJHL season due to the elimination of the crossover schedule. The Okanagan Conference roster, however, proves that players aged 16-18 are impact players for their club teams and make up a large percentage of the top tier talent in the KIJHL. A lot of the forwards that make up Team Okanagan are in the top 5 in scoring on their respective teams, while the defensemen play big minutes, quarterback power plays, and are trusted by their coaches to play in big situations. It will be great to see them go up against talent that they don’t often see from the Kootenay Conference of the KIJHL.

The KIJHL Top Prospects Showcase takes place January 13th at Rutland Arena in Kelowna, BC. Myself along with Justin McCartney, the Voice of the Kelowna Chiefs, will have all the action on Playfullscreen.com.

Steam Add Goaltender Sidelnik For Late Season Push

The Summerland Steam Junior Hockey Club is proud to announce the signing of 1999-born goaltender Max Sidelnik. A native of Lake Balboa, California, Sidelnik arrives in Summerland via the Estevan Bruins of the SJHL. In 11 appearances for Estevan, the 18-year old posted an 8-2 record with a 3.93 Goals Against Average and an .880% Save percentage.

Maxim Sidelnik

Prior to his time in the SJHL, Sidelnik spent the 2016/17 season with the Anaheim Jr. Ducks U18 team, posting a 2.45 GAA and .911% Sv% in 11 appearances.

Max Sidelnik

“We’re very excited to have Max join our club,” Said Steam GM Mike Rigby, “He’s a very talented goaltender that we hope can join us, buy into our program and help balance out the work load as we head down the stretch.”

When asked about the style Sidelnik seems to like to play, Rigby added “He moves well. He’s in the right position to make the saves he needs to make, and we’re excited to see what he can bring to our club as we speed towards the playoffs.”

Sidelnik has already played is first game in black, red, and white, as he made 32 saves in a losing effort against the Osoyoos Coyotes on December 29th, just his second full day with the club. 

📸 Jen Jensen Photography/Osoyoos Coyotes

📸 Jen Jensen Photography / Osoyoos Coyotes
He joins the Steam as they now try to chase the Coyotes for the top spot in the division. The loss last Friday saw Summerland slip to 2nd place in the division, the first time this season they haven’t had at least a share of the top spot.

With the addition of Sidelnik to the roster, Summerland says goodbye to goaltender Owen Petten. Petten, an 18-year old from Clarke’s Beach, Newfoundland, played just five games in Summerland colours this season as the backup to Steam starter Matt Huber. Petten went 3-1 in his five appearances, posting a 2.72 Goals Against Average and a .917% Save Percentage during his time with the Steam.

“Owen is a great young man and a guy that will be missed in our dressing room,” Rigby said, “He’s a good goaltender and we are hoping that together we can find him a place where he’ll get some more opportunities to play more minutes as he progresses with his hockey career. On behalf of the Steam organization, we would like to thank Owen for his hard work, great attitude, and his time spent with us both on the ice and in the community.”

Sidelnik, who played his first game last Friday, is expected to be in the lineup again on January 4th when the Steam host the Princeton Posse at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton. Matt Huber is expected to start that contest and when he does, he’ll break a Steam franchise record for minutes played, currently held by his older brother Brett. The younger Huber needs just eight minutes of action to tie his big bro, and nine minutes to break the record. He’s also closing in on Brett’s franchise record for games played (92), needing just three more appearances to tie and four to take the record for himself.

Puck drops at 7PM, and tickets are available at the door starting at 5:30PM on game day. We WILL have an internet broadcast on playfullscreen.com, with pre-game starting at 6:45pm provided no technical gremlins get in our way in the midst of moving our equipment.