📸 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.