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!

 

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