GAME DAY: STEAM VS COYOTES – 3 KEYS

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After a drubbing in Kelowna thanks to the Chiefs dangerous power play on Tuesday night, the Summerland Steam are back in action on home ice tonight against the rival Osoyoos Coyotes. The first thing to know about this rivalry as it begins for 2018/19 is that there’s a lot of ‘new blood’. The Steam and the Coyotes are both younger hockey teams than they’ve likely ever been, and Osoyoos has a new coach implementing new systems that the Steam might not be used to seeing from the team in burgundy, black and white.

Both teams are coming off their worst loss of the season, Summerland of course losing 7-2 at the hands of the Conference leading Chiefs on Tuesday, while the Coyotes fell by an 8-3 score to the second best team in the Conference, the Revelstoke Grizzlies. Both will be looking to get off on the right foot to start a 2-game weekend this weekend, with Summerland visiting Princeton on Saturday night and the Coyotes travelling to Grand Forks to face the Border Bruins.

For Summerland, the story on Tuesday night was once again their discipline. They found themselves shorthanded seven times, with the Kelowna Chiefs capitalizing on five opportunities. There are many things that can improve on a 7-2 loss, but let’s start with these 3:

 

3 KEYS – SUMMERLAND STEAM vs OSOYOOS COYOTES

  1. DISCIPLINE – For obvious reasons, discipline has to be key. They’ve found themselves shorthanded on far too many occasions through their first seven games, and have been victimized by the power plays of opposing teams, the Kelowna Chiefs and Nelson Leafs, in particular. Summerland needs to find ways to play on the defensive side of the puck, and limit the amount of unnecessary infractions (slashing, hooking, etc while on the back check).

2. SHOTS ON GOAL Through 7 games of this KIJHL season, the Summerland Steam have averaged 23 shots on goal per game. That’s not enough, when you’re facing quality goaltending like the Coyotes will offer tonight in either Daniel Paul or Bailey Monteith. If it’s Paul, the Steam will know that 23 shots on goal just isn’t going to get the job done. It’s imperative that they get above the 30 shot plateau, and begin to start driving some pucks and some traffic to the front of the goal.

        3. BASICS – Summerland will need to take care of the basics. By that I mean take care of business in the face-off circle, and play a clean defensive zone game with limited turnovers. The Coyotes have always been a team that feasts on turnovers, and Summerland has had a bit of trouble with what we call the ‘winger walls’ so far this season. It’s important that the wingers are able to clear the zone from the half-walls of the defensive zone, and do so on the first attempt. Whether that’s to find the centreman swinging through the middle of the ice or chip the puck off the glass and into neutral ice, it has to happen in order for Summerland to be successful.

Opening face-off goes at 7:30pm from the Summerland Arena. Joel and I will have full pre-game starting at 7:15 including interviews with (hopefully) both coaches.

 

GAME DAY: STEAM VS CHIEFS – 3 KEYS

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File Photo – Vicki Rich Photography

September 26, 2018

Summerland, BC

For the first time in the young KIJHL Season, the Summerland Steam and the Kelowna Chiefs will do battle tonight at the Rutland Arena. The fierce Okanagan Division rivalry is likely to pick up just where it left off in Game 7 of the Okanagan Division Quarter Final last season, won by the Chiefs for the first time in four years. The rivalry showed signs of getting hot early in the one pre-season contest the two teams played, but business will be sure to pick up early tonight now that these guys are playing for keeps.

The Chiefs, 6-0 to date, are one of the best teams in the KIJHL, while Summerland comes in with a 3-3 record after their Kootenay trip last weekend.

3 KEYS – SUMMERLAND AT KELOWNA – SEPTEMBER 26, 2018

1. ATTACK 

Kelowna has the best offense in the KIJHL. They’ve scored 32 times in their six games so far, mostly powered by the trio of Brody Dale, Devin Sutton and Zach Erhardt. Dale leads the KIJHL with 9 goals and 18 points in six contests, while Sutton (11 pts in 4gp) and Erhardt (11pts in 6gp) are not far behind inside the Top 5. 

The most logical solution to try and combat this amount of offense is to attack. Not in the sense of attack the players, but instead attack the team in the form of a strong push forward and a strong forecheck on the part of the Summerland Steam. Summerland will need to get the puck deep into the Kelowna zone, behind their defense, and get to work to try and win the battles.

2. PUCK SUPPORT

With key number one comes key number two, Puck Support. If the Steam are going to successfully attack the zone of the Kelowna Chiefs, the support from the trailing forward(s) becomes paramount. Summerland will have to get two guys to the puck, and have the third not far away in case the battle is lost. Lost battles to a team as talented as the Kelowna Chiefs can turn a mistake at one end of the ice into a goal at the other end pretty darn fast, and that’s something Summerland will have to be mindful of.

They’ll need to keep themselves on the defensive side of pucks, and ensure they don’t let the Chiefs break loose to an odd man rush. Again, odd man rushes given up to a team as talented as the Chiefs are turn into a sunburn for your goaltender pretty darn quickly.

3. DISCIPLINE, DISCIPLINE, DISCIPLINE

It’s almost to the point of beating a dead horse, but any team coached by Ken Law seems to find ways to score on the power play, no matter what. In Osoyoos under the tutelage of Law over the past eight seasons, the power play has absolutely tormented teams both in the division and the entire KIJHL. For the Chiefs, that fact is no different. They’re currently seventh in the league in power play percentage, and use all their weapons effectively including defenseman Isaac Dutka.

Summerland needs to stay away from the penalty box. As simple as that sounds, it hasn’t been early in this 2018/19 KIJHL season. The Steam are the third most penalized team in the KIJHL, behind only Grand Forks and Sicamous, and find themselves shorthanded on average 7.3 times per game. That’s too many times for a power play the caliber of the Kelowna Chiefs, and if they test my theory they’re going to struggle.

Summerland’s best bet is for this game to stay at 5v5. At evens, the Steam have shown they can outwork a lot of teams, and Kelowna should be no different. Puck drop goes at 7pm from Rutland Arena tonight, so make the drive or join Justin McCartney on Playfullscreen.com for the webcast!

 

SCHERGERS, LORING SHINE AS STEAM SPLIT WEEKEND AGAIN

Eric Scherger watches as a scrum ensues September 15 in Chase. Photo – Tami Quan Photography

 

September 26, 2018

Summerland, BC

Another weekend of KIJHL action, and another split for the Summerland Steam who went 1-1 on their Kootenay road trip this past weekend. It’s the third weekend of the KIJHL season, and the third weekend in a row they’ve come away with a 1-1 record.

They began in Nelson on Friday night against a much bigger, much more veteran laden Nelson Leafs squad who came into the game undefeated. The Steam gave up two early goals to Ryan Piva (7) and Trail Thompson (2), and showed signs of bus legs through a first period dominated by the home Leafs.

The second period saw Summerland gain a little life back, and come back to tie the game at 2 thanks to a 5-minute power play. Nelson’s Logan Wullum was barred from the game for a hit to the head after dropping his gloves and attacking Summerland’s Dawson Jenner, who’s gloves were still firmly attached to his hands. This stemmed from Wullum taking a hard pass in front of Steam goaltender Jared Breitkreuz and making contact on the way through the crease. Jenner took exception, and confronted Wullum who immediately dropped the gloves and went straight for the cage of the Summerland defender.

Once separated, Wullum made his way around the back of the Steam net and took a swipe at Breitkreuz on the way to the dressing room. He was assessed a 5-minute major for Head Contact, and awarded an early shower.

The Steam would connect twice on the five minute power-play to tie the game. Everett Scherger notched his first of the season with a low hard shot from the right half wall, assisted by Cory Loring and Alex Marchand, before Loring scored his second of the season from the left wing half wall 1:43 later. This tied the game at two, with Summerland showing a little push-back.

The Leafs would retake the lead late in the period, when team captain Jack Karran added a power play goal of his own with 1:22 to play in the middle frame. He was able to shake loose a rebound behind Jared Breitkreuz and will it into the back of the net to regain the lead for the Leafs.

Penalty trouble would cost Summerland on this night once again, and would wind up being the difference in the third period. A 4-minute double minor near the midpoint of the third period allowed the Leafs to capitalize twice, both from Ryan Piva (8,9) to complete the hat-trick. It turned a 3-2 game that was in range for the Steam into a 5-2 game that Nelson maintained full control of.

Discipline cost the Summerland Steam once again on Friday night in Nelson, and it’s something they’ll have to work on if they’re going to look to get ahead of their .500 record thus far.

On Saturday night the story was a little different, but not in the type of start Summerland had. Steam goaltender Eric Scherger was able to hold off the Rebels long enough for Summerland to find their legs, stopping 13 Rebels shots in the first to keep the game knotted at 0. Riley Tucker, his counterpart at the other end for the Rebels, made 8 saves in the frame.

Summerland was able to break through in the second period, with Everett Scherger supplying what would stand as the game winner with 5:41 remaining in the second period. Cory Loring did a great job to force a turnover at the Castlegar line, freeing the puck up for Justin Swan. Swan moved in off the right-wing and found Scherger, who made a nice move around a defender before dragging cross crease to beat Tucker high to the blocker side.

Scherger’s second of the season, and second in as many nights, was supplemented by outstanding work from his brother, Eric, in the Summerland goal, as well as fellow 20-year old forward Linden Gove. Gove notched his third of the season, assisted by Loring and Cody Swan late in the third period to give the Steam some insurance and help pick up two points. Swan and Loring worked together to take the puck away at the Rebels blue line once again, before Swan found Loring down low. Loring was able to locate a streaking Gove who made no mistake and increased Summerland’s lead to 2-0 with 2:03 remaining.

They would control the puck for the remainder of the game, and allow the younger Scherger, Eric, to pick up his second consecutive shutout in as many KIJHL appearances. He made 36 saves in the winning effort, while Riley Tucker stopped 30 of 32 Summerland shots in the loss.

A big time bright spot for the Summerland Steam this weekend were the Scherger brothers, but it was the emergence of Cory Loring that was most encouraging. Loring, acquired from the Grand Forks Border Bruins midway through the 2017/18 season, carried the offensive load for the Steam this weekend, keying in on all four goals scored in the two games they played. He tallied two and set up two en route to a win and a loss for his team.

The Steam saw ups and downs on their Kootenay trip this past weekend. They put in good work, and found themselves being successful at 5v5 in both games. Unfortunately, they put themselves on the back foot in Nelson with their discipline, and found themselves in the same situation in Castlegar Saturday night. Luckily, the Rebels were equally undisciplined, and Summerland wasn’t hurt by their struggle to stay away from the penalty box. They’ll have to get it together with a key match-up against the Kelowna Chiefs coming Tuesday night in Rutland.

Tim Hogg

STEAM READY FOR KOOTENAY TRIP AFTER SPLIT LAST WEEKEND

Photo: Tami Quan; Steam Rookie Eric Scherger minds his net during a 1-0 victory in Chase September 15, 2018

It’s something we haven’t had to talk about for a couple of seasons. An overnight road trip for the Summerland Steam looms this coming weekend after a split in last weekend’s games.

The Steam fell by a 3-1 (w/ ENG) score to the Golden Rockets at home on Friday night, and won a 1-0 defensive affair on the road in Chase on Saturday. The 1-0 win was supplied by a Justin Swan goal, his second of the season, and a 27-save shutout performance from rookie goaltender Eric Scherger in his first KIJHL appearance.

“It’s great for Eric to have that kind of game his first time out,” Said Head Coach John Depourcq, “It’s great to see a young guy come in and earn his net time. It’s a really good thing when as a coach, I’ve got two goaltenders playing well and pushing one another for playing time.”

Breitkreuz was very good in his own game last weekend, making 30 saves on 32 shots while unfortunately taking the loss on Friday night. Justin Swan was the lone goal scorer in that game as well, his first KIJHL goal.

On Friday night the special teams were somewhat of a concern for the Steam, as they went 0-for-9 on the powerplay and gave up the game winning goal while on a 5-on-3 man advantage in the second period of play.

“It’s just learning systems,” Says Depourcq, ” You know, we’ve got a young team and a lot of new players trying to learn a new system and new special teams structures. We’ve only had one or two good weeks of practice here since camp ended, so I’m confident that we’ll get better on both sides of the special teams as we dig in here.”

Summerland did go 7-for-7 on the penalty kill which is a positive sign, but it’s something Coach Depourcq says can’t continue.

“We’ve got to find a way to be a little more disciplined,” He said when asked about the state of his penalty kill, “I’ve been pretty impressed with it for the most part, but we’ve had to use it far too much in the first four games of our season. We have to work on being more disciplined, and not retaliating when things don’t go our way. That’s part of being a young team though, it’ll come.”

With a 2-2 record, the Steam begin a busy stretch of hockey with a trip to the Kootenays this weekend. They’ll play the undefeated Nelson Leafs on Friday night, followed by a date with the Castlegar Rebels Saturday. They’ll return home Saturday night and have an off-day Sunday before travelling to visit the undefeated (at time of writing) Kelowna Chiefs.

The Chiefs possess an elite level offense as far as KIJHL standards are concerned, and are the only Okanagan Shuswap Conference team with players inside the Top-25 in league scoring heading into this weekend’s games. Brody Dale (league leader, 13 points in 4 games), Lane Paddison and Zach Erhardt are all inside the Top-25, and provide a lot of the offense for the Chiefs. The Chiefs also have Juanre Naude back for another season, an Devin Sutton also recently returned from Junior A to join the Chiefs once again for the 2018/19 season.

As for what he expects from his team on their first overnight road trip, Steam Head Coach John Depourcq had this to say:

“I hope it’s a bonding experience for them. When I was playing, minor hockey all the way up to the pro ranks, the road and the bus were places that brought a team together. We haven’t had the opportunity to get out for many overnight trips the last couple of years with no crossover schedule, so I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. Coming home with a couple of points wouldn’t hurt, either.”

The Nelson Leafs boast a 4-0 record heading into Friday night’s contest, and they’ve outscored their opponents 15-6 in those four contests. Goaltender Caiden Kreitz has played all four games for the Leafs so far putting up a 1.50 Goals Against Average and .940% Save Percentage, while veteran Forward Ryan Piva leads the team in scoring with six goals and seven points.

The Castlegar Rebels meanwhile have only played two games heading into this weekend, splitting those contests to a 1-1 record. They host the Fernie Ghostriders on Friday night before the Steam visit Saturday.

Opening face-offs for this weekend’s games in Nelson and Castlegar are both at 7PM and available on Playfullscreen.com.

Steam Earn Split On Opening Weekend

Steam rookie Ty Banser skates in his first KIJHL Game September 7, 2018. Photo: Tami Quan Photography

 

 

 

As the 2018/19 KIJHL Season got underway this past weekend, the Summerland Steam came in with arguably the youngest team they’ve ever had. With nine returning players from last season, only one of them a 20-year old (team captain, Everett Scherger), Head Coach John Depourcq was excited to get started with a young, teachable group. He and General Manager Mike Rigby did add some veteran leadership during the off-season, acquiring Linden Gove and Dawson Jenner from Princeton, as well as re-acquiring goaltender Jared Breitkreuz from the Chase Heat. All three are Summerland locals, returning to their hometown team to play their 20-year old seasons in the KIJHL.

The Steam were met straight away with a stiff test, an out of conference opponent in the Columbia Valley Rockies that they hadn’t seen in nearly 4 full years. It resulted in a 5-2 loss in Summerland’s home opener on Friday night, and there were both things to like as well as teachable moments. For the majority of the hockey game it was a tight checking, close affair that saw Summerland hold 1-0 and 2-1 leads before the Rockies took over late in the game.

Three third period goals, including two in an :11 second time span by the Rockies were the undoing of the Summerland Steam. and it proved there’s work to be done in the conditioning, said Head Coach John Depourcq.

“Once we get into shape, we’ll be just fine,” Said the coach of the Summerland Steam, now in his sixth season, “I think we’ve got the makings of a great young hockey team here and it’s just a matter of learning systems and finding the level of conditioning that it takes to play junior hockey. This is a big step for a lot of these younger kids coming from midget programs all over Western Canada, and it will take them a couple of weeks to get themselves right and into shape.”

Summerland struggled on Friday night on special teams, going 1-for-4 on their power play, while allowing three Columbia Valley power play goals in six opportunities. These numbers are byproducts of young players learning a new system, and only having a couple of days to do so.

The Steam got goals from Linden Gove and Cody Swan, but surrendered five in total in the loss. Gavin Fleck, Jesse Carr, Chase Hawkins, Zachary Giacobbo, and Ryan Skytt replied for the visiting Rockies, while Ben Kelsch picked up the victory in goal.

Another part of ‘learning the ropes’ in the KIJHl is having a short memory, and Summerland had to have short memories with another game the following night. Just 24 hours later Summerland was on the ice in the Shuswap to play the division rival Princeton Posse, who took an 8-1 drubbing at the hands of the Grand Forks Border Bruins on Friday night in their opener.

The Steam looked better Saturday night, skating to a 4-0 victory against the rival Posse. Cairo Rogers notched his first of the season just 3:02 into the first period to get the scoring started, and it would turn out to be all Steam goaltender Jared Breitkreuz would need. Breitkreuz, a 20-year old Summerland local, stopped all 32 shots the Posse sent his way en route to the victory and his first shutout of the season.

Linden Gove would add a powerplay goal in the second period, and Ty Banser notched his first KIJHL goal to send the Steam to a 3-0 lead after two periods. Cory Loring would add his first of the season on a power play late in the third to round out the scoring and seal the 4-0 victory.

“We played the way we needed to play to win on small ice,” said Steam Head Coach John Depourcq post game, “I’m happy with the way our young guys are performing out there, I thought Ty Banser had an exceptional hockey game tonight and a good weekend overall, and I think we’re trending in the right direction once we get a few practices in to work on systems and conditioning. We’re in a good place right now.”

The Steam will get a good week of practices in this week before their next game, which takes place Friday night at the Summerland Arena. The Golden Rockets make a rare visit to the Summerland Arena, with puck drop taking place at 7:30 PM. Tickets are just $10 for adults, $8 for students/seniors, and family packs (2 adults, up to 4 kids under 10) are just $25!

Written by Tim Hogg, Director of Broadcasting & Public Relations for the Summerland Steam Junior B Hockey Club.