Breitkreuz Comes Home for 20-Year Old Season

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The Summerland Steam are pleased to announce the re-acquisition of the playing rights of 20-year old local goaltender Jared Breitkreuz from the Chase Heat in exchange for Future Considerations.

Breitkreuz, a member of the Summerland Steam during the 2016/17 season, was traded to 100 Mile House early in the 2017/18 season to pursue an opportunity for more playing time. The Summerland native spent his 18-year old season (2016/17) with his hometown Steam amassing a 9-0-1-0 record in 10 starts while maintaining a .912% save percentage with two shutouts.

With then 20-year old goaltender Matt Huber returning to assume the starting role again in 17/18, Breitkreuz began the season as Summerland’s backup. He soon saw an opportunity for more playing time, however, when Wranglers Head Coach Dale Hladun came calling to fill a need, with Breitkreuz at the top of his list.

“100 Mile called looking for a #1 goaltender and specifically asked about Jared’s availability, and with that opportunity in mind for his growth we could not say no,” Said Steam GM Mike Rigby at the time of the trade, “Jared has shown that he has the potential to excel at this level and as hard as it is to say goodbye to a person and player of Jared’s quality and character, it will be good for his development. Both on the ice and off the ice it will be a new experience for him, and it will be great for him to get more playing time in front of great fans like they have in 100 Mile House.”

He only played nine games with the Wranglers,  posting 5 wins, 3 losses and a tie while posting one shutout and a .904% save percentage. The low number of appearances for the Wranglers was due to a call-up to the BCHL, where Breitkreuz spent nearly a month helping out in the crease of the Merritt Centennials. He only saw game action twice, picking up his first BCHL victory and posting a .911% save percentage in his two appearances.

Upon return to the KIJHL, Breitkreuz found himself in a crowded Wranglers’ crease after the return of veteran goaltender Jakob Severson. Breitkreuz was dealt from the Wranglers to the Chase Heat, where he played out the remainder of the season and playoffs splitting games with goaltending partner Conor Webb. In 11 regular season appearances, Breitkreuz put together a 3-6 record and 3.62 goals against average, but maintained a save percentage above .900% while facing quality competition every single night.

“I had a great experience with all three teams I played for,” Breitkreuz said, “I can’t say enough great things about Coach Hladun in 100 Mile, Coach Fox in Chase and Coach Joe Martin in Merritt. They’re all first-class individuals.”

The experience in the BCHL is something not many goaltenders from the KIJHL get to experience, and Breitkreuz spent a full month in Merritt while they had a pair of goaltenders on the shelf due to injury.

“It’s definitely a step up,” says Breitkreuz of his time with the Centennials, “Even though it was just for a short time, the talent level is so high and the commitment level of the guys who play at that level can teach you a thing or two about the way you prepare on a day by day basis.”

He added that he’d also like to thank the billet families he stayed with during his stops in all three cities during 2017/18 for being so welcoming and receptive to having him in their homes. After the carousel of teams in two different leagues last season, he says he’s happy to be back home in Summerland for his 20-year old year:

“I’m extremely happy to be back playing in Summerland and playing at home for my last year of junior hockey. I’m looking forward to the season, enjoying my last year with quality teammates and people in this organization, and being the best goaltender and teammate I can be. I enjoyed my time away, but I definitely missed the home cooked meals, for sure.”

Breitkreuz joins Everett Scherger, recently named captain of the 2018/19 Summerland Steam, as the only two committed twenty year olds leading into main camp in August. The Steam will likely be a young hockey team again in 2018/19 but Breitkreuz, like Scherger, doesn’t think they’re far away from contending for a KIJHL championship.

“I think with the group that Coach Depourcq and GM Mike Rigby will be able to put together with returning players and new recruits, and with the leadership and experience that Schergs (Everett Scherger) brings as captain, we’ll be more than capable of bringing a Championship to Summerland.”

Summerland Steam Main Camp goes August 25th & 26th at the Summerland Arena, with exhibition games slated for later that week ahead of the KIJHL season opening on September 7th. Look for the Steam out in the community, as they’ll be at various community events all summer long. If you go as far as to introduce yourself, you might even score some free tickets!

Scherger Tapped as Next Steam Captain

Photo: Emanuel Sequira

The Summerland Steam have named their new captain for the 2018/19 KIJHL Season. Devon, AB native Everett Scherger, in his third season with the Summerland Steam, will wear the ‘C’ for Head Coach John Depourcq when the Steam hit the ice this coming September.

“We feel he’s the right guy to wear it because of the type of player and person he is,” Said Depourcq on his choice to captain his squad, “He’s a remarkable young man and a very talented hockey player who’s will to compete makes those around him better. The kid loves hockey, plain and simple, and it rubs off on his teammates and those around him. We couldn’t be happier to have him lead our team both on the ice and into the community to start the 2018/19 season.”

Photo: Emanuel Sequira

Scherger, a KIJHL veteran of 74 regular season and playoff games over the past two seasons, missed significant time due to injury during the 2017/18 season. He amassed 9 goals and 22 points last season while missing a month from November 21 to December 29 and again from late January through early March. Scherger found himself unable to play much during the 2017 KIJHL Playoffs, but wound up on the bench and playing limited shifts during Games 5, 6, and 7 of that first round series while at much less than 100%.

“It speaks to the type of person and player he is,” Coach Depourcq said, “He’s the ultimate team guy, who will do anything for his teammates if it makes the group better.

We wanted his presence in our lineup, even if it was just his voice on the bench. Our team was going through a bit of a difficult time with our backs against the wall against a really good team, and even though he didn’t see much ice due to his injury he was a big part of those wins in Games 5 & 6 that allowed us to play a Game 7.”

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Photo: Victoria Rich

Scherger, who turned 20 on May 7th, is excited for the opportunity to carry on from great captains before him like Alex Williams and Sam Jones:

“They set great examples to follow,” Scherger said in conversation with Steam beat reporter Emanuel Sequira, “Not just for us right now, but you talk about them and they become great examples for future players as well.”

Scherger has firmly relocated to Summerland for the summer, continuing to live with his billet family, the Tutkaluk’s, while also working in the plumbing trade. He plans to be on the ice as much as possible to build his conditioning and strength headed into his final season of junior hockey.

He learned of Coach John Depourcq’s decision to make him captain during his exit meeting at the end of the 2017/18 season, and was immediately energized.

“I was really excited,” He said, “Just being around the room and all those guys, we’ve got a great group. Not only that but we’ve got a great coaching staff, a great fan base and a good community supporting us. That’s the kind of thing that gets you excited as a player.”

When asked about what it will be like to trade his familiar ‘A’ for a ‘C’ this coming September, Scherger had high praise for his coaches and teammates for helping him push hard to achieve it:

“They were the ones that helped get me here,” He said, “They pushed me, they played me in all sorts of situations because they had faith in my ability, and they help bring everybody together. It’s very helpful as a leader in the locker room when your coaching staff not only believes in you, but helps you unify a group of 20 or 25 guys to strive for a common goal.”

That goal, Scherger says, is to bring a KIJHL Championship to Summerland.

“I want to be remembered as a guy who loved to be at the rink, and loved to win hockey games,” Scherger said, “I want to be that guy that lives and dies inside the glass and does anything for the team, and if I can help get guys on board with that strategy, we’re going to be a real tough hockey team to compete against. If we get on board with that strategy and never take a shift off, we’re going to compete for a championship, no doubt.”

The Steam, who finished third in the Okanagan Division last season, will be in tough once again as the Kelowna Chiefs and Osoyoos Coyotes will be as tough as ever to play against. Former Head Coach of the Osoyoos Coyotes, Ken Law, has taken over as the Head Coach and Assistant GM of the Kelowna Chiefs, and is sure to make them an even tougher team to play against than the team that took the Steam out of the KIJHL playoffs in Game 7 of Round 1 last year.

“It fuels the fire, that’s for sure,” Said new captain Everett Scherger of the Game 7 loss, “Inside this division is real tough, physical, borderline mean hockey to play, and we had a real good year last year. To go out in Round 1 with the team we had, who we thought could make a deep run and potentially battle for a championship, it was tough. We’re going to do what we can to make sure we don’t feel that again this year.”

Summerland, as per tradition, will likely open the KIJHL schedule on the second Friday of September (This year September 7th) on home ice, but that won’t be the first opportunity to see Everett Scherger with his new ‘C’. He, along with several other Steam players, will take part in the 36th Annual Summerland Action Festival parade on Saturday at 10AM on Main St. in downtown Summerland. Head down there, find them, and you might even score yourself some free tickets!