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
- 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.