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.