3 KEYS – SUMMERLAND STEAM @ NORTH OKANAGAN KNIGHTS

GAME DAY!7_30PMSUMMERLAND ARENA

For the second time this season, the Summerland Steam will travel to the Nor-Val Centre in Armstrong for a clash with the North Okanagan Knights. Division rivals, the Steam and the Knights can’t have trended any differently in their past six contests. The Summerland Steam enter tonight’s contest having won four games in a row and taking nine of the last ten available points, and have begun to close the gap on the division leading Kelowna Chiefs. That gap now sits at ten points, with the Chiefs still having not lost in regulation time.

Summerland picked up a big 3-1 victory on Tuesday night against the Princeton Posse in a game that saw the third period get a little spirited and resulted in a couple of suspensions. They’ll have to play tonight without forwards Cairo Rogers and Sean Wilson. Rogers will be eligible to return tomorrow night in 100 Mile House after a “fighting” major, while Wilson is ineligible until November 3rd due to a 3-game suspension for his goaltender interference major penalty in the final 10 minutes of the contest.

The Knights, meanwhile, have lost six straight games and have been outscored by a 32-17 margin. Their last victory came against the Creston Valley Thundercats by a 5-2 score on October 5th. Despite their 2-10-0-1-0 record, the Knights have some dangerous scoring potential and could explode at any time courtesy of team leaders Jett Saharchuk (16 points), Alec McLeod (14 points), and defenseman Cole Haberlack (13 points). The Knights have also recently made a change in the crease, bringing in goaltender Devin Chapman who was recently released by the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the BCHL.

The American born right-hander from Colorado Springs, CO got into three contests with the Silverbacks, posting a 3.33 goals against average and .888% save percentage. A former Okanagan Hockey Academy product, Chapman will bring some stability to the crease for the Knights and compliment 16-year old incumbent Austin Madge, also a right hander, to offer quality goaltending for the Knights on a night by night basis.

As previously mentioned, this is the second visit to the Castle for the Summerland Steam this season. They picked up a 6-4 victory on October 6th to simultaneously begin the streaks that both teams currently ride. They’ll need to do a lot of the same things if they want to be successful again, and here are the 3 Keys to tonight’s game:

  1. JUMP EARLY  This can probably be said for 90% of hockey teams across the country and the world, but the Summerland Steam are infinitely better when they arrive ready to play. It’s important for Summerland, as the road team, to get a good start, get pucks deep into the Knights’ zone and go to work in the corners to retrieve it.
  2. AIR TIGHT – Defensive mistakes can cost you in a big way at the best of times, but especially it seems they can cost you on the road. Summerland will need to be smart in the defensive and neutral zones, make the high percentage plays and clear pucks on the first attempt if they want to continue their winning streak and stretch it to 5-games. During this 4-game win streak, the Steam have done a great job supporting the puck and each other, moving as 5-man units up the ice and back with everybody being where they need to be when they need to be there. That’s going to have to continue for them. They’ll have to be careful not to get too stretched out through the neutral zone, and work to keep their spacing and gap control in all three zones. They’re at their best when they have 5-men on the defensive side of the puck, no matter the zone, so that should be the goal again in what’s sure to be a tightly contested game tonight.
  3.  BE PREPARED TO WORK – There’s one thing, no matter the record that teams from North Okanagan have done over the years and that’s that they WORK. Every shift, every second, every night they work hard. It doesn’t seem to matter who their coach is or who their personnel in the jerseys are, but the minute the jersey goes over those shoulder pads those players know it’s time to go to work. Summerland will have to match that tonight, and match their intensity if they want to pack that 2 points on the bus with them when it’s time to come home.

Puck drop from Nor-Val is 7:30pm tonight on playfullscreen.com, so join the webcast!

3 KEYS – SUMMERLAND STEAM VS PRINCETON POSSE

20180908210626(1)

Photo: Chris Swan

The Summerland Steam look to make it four wins in a row on Tuesday night when they host the visiting Princeton Posse. The Steam, coming off a two win weekend in the West Kootenay last Friday (5-4W @ Spokane) and Saturday (3-2W @ Beaver Valley) are playing the best hockey they’ve played to date this season. They’ve begun to come together as a team and are creating some chemistry that’s evident both on the ice and away from it.

The same can be said for the Posse, however, who have been playing their best hockey of the season lately as well. They had a 6-game winning streak snapped at home against the Sicamous Eagles on Saturday night, and will surely be looking to start a new streak on Tuesday.

The two teams have seen each other twice already this season, with both games taking place on the ‘little ice’ in the Princeton & District Arena and garnering mixed results. The first visit, a 4-0 victory for Summerland on September 8th saw Summerland “play the way they needed to play to win on small ice”, according to Head Coach John Depourcq at the time. Their second visit, however, wasn’t so great.

The Steam gave up three early goals to the Posse and eventually went down 4-0 before mounting a furious comeback to tie the game at 4 with 7:00 remaining in the third period. They then promptly took a penalty and allowed the Posse to retake the lead, and the home team wouldn’t give it up this time. With meeting number three due up tonight at 7:30pm, here are the three keys to the game, presented by the Coast Penticton Hotel:

3 KEYS – SUMMERLAND STEAM VS PRINCETON POSSE

  1. BE ON TIME – The last time the Summerland Steam saw the Princeton Posse was on September 29th, and they definitely didn’t arrive on time. Now by arrive on time we mean this: be ready to go when that opening puck drops. Don’t take five or eight or fifteen minutes to get into the game, because it can cost three goals like it did the last time these two teams met. The Steam need to make sure they’re ready to go the minute that national anthem ends.
  2. WREAK HAVOC – Be physical, but walk the line, and make sure to get traffic to the front of the net. The Summerland Steam have done all of these things well lately, and that’ll need to continue against a quality opponent in the Princeton Posse. The rule of thumb once you get to this level is you have to expect two things: If a guy is given time and space to make a play expect him to make it, and if a goaltender can see a puck you should expect him to stop it. Both of these things can be solved by ‘wreaking havoc’ in the offensive zone. This key isn’t meant to go out and bang bodies and hurt people, but simply to use the body effectively to create opportunities both on the walls and in front of the net.
  3. STRETCH IT OUT – The two games played against Princeton this season have been played on ‘the little ice’ in Princeton, and Summerland’s been forced to adapt their game to their surroundings. The challenge for them tonight will be to stick to their game plan and dictate the game, forcing the Posse to adapt. It’s important for the Steam to stretch the Posse out through the neutral zone and make them defend in larger areas than they might be used to.

 

Puck drop tonight is 7:30pm from the Summerland Arena, with pre-game going on playfullscreen.com at 7:15pm with Joel Barg and myself.

STEAM SWEEP MURDOCH TRIP, PREP FOR POSSE TUESDAY NIGHT

561863357

“No Rest for the Wicked,” or so they say. After taking all 4 points out of Spokane and Beaver Valley this past weekend, the Steam prepare to host the Princeton Posse on Tuesday night in one of only two home games this month. The other, a 4-2 loss to the Kelowna Chiefs on October 5, 2018, feels like a distant memory as the team has been on the road for the past two and a half weeks. In those five away games, they’ve scored 22 times and picked up nine of a possible ten points against North Okanagan, Osoyoos, Kamloops, Spokane, and Beaver Valley.

This past weekend, Cory Loring was the star of the show for the Steam netting three goals, one of which was a game winner, in two victories in the West Kootenays. His three points vaults him into the Top 10 in KIJHL scoring as the season reaches passes it’s quarter mark.

He scored twice (5,6) on Friday night as the Steam won a western style shootout with the Spokane Braves. The Steam opened the scoring and led 1-0, but then trailed 2-1, 3-2, and 4-3 before Loring scored his second of the night to give them their lead back early in the third period. They would hang on to win by a 5-4 final score, despite a hat trick from Spokane’s Aaron Morris.

Linden (9) and Mitch Gove (5) each contributed a goal and an assist, while Morey Babakaiff (3) also chipped in a single in the winning effort. Jared Breitkreuz made 30 stops in the victory for his 4th victory of the year.

On Saturday night, Eric Scherger was steady when called upon in a 3-2 Steam victory in Beaver Valley for his fourth victory of the year as well. The perennially strong Nitehawks are in the same situation as a lot of teams this season. They’re younger and more inexperienced than ever, and Summerland was able to pick up a victory by ambushing them early and getting out to a 2-0 first period lead.

Loring notched his 7th of the season on the power play from the left circle just under 5:00 into the hockey game before Tyson Conroy added his 4th of the season near the halfway mark to give the Steam the 2-0 lead after a period. Both goals came on long shots through traffic, and the Steam would have success with it again in the second period to lengthen the lead to 3-0.

The long shot on the power play came from Bevis Chou and was stopped by Nitehawks goaltender Jacob Romanowski, but Liam McLaren was there to pot the rebound for his 6th of the season. Mitch Gove added the second assist on the goal as Summerland took a stranglehold on the game just 5:00 into the second frame. Ryan Crisalli would score on a breakaway late in the second period, and Paul Leroux would add a goal late in the third to get the Nitehawks back within one, but that was as close as they would get.

Despite the comeback attempt, the Steam were able to hang on for a 3-2 victory and come home with all four points from their weekend trip. They’re 4-1-1-0 in October, and seem to be starting to turn in a consistent effort on a nightly basis. If you ask Head Coach John Depourcq, the road trips and time away help.

“It’s huge,” He said upon returning home from this past weekend’s trip, “It’s great to see these guys come together not only on the ice but off it. These road trips have been missed the last two years with no crossover games being played, so it’s great to get back out there and bond as a team. The on-ice effort is improving on a nightly basis and they’re being rewarded for it right now which is great to see.”

“4 points is nice, too,” He added with a smile.

Special teams was a big catalyst for the Steam this past weekend, going 3-for-10 on their power play, while successfully killing off all seven shorthanded attempts against as well. This is an area that Summerland’s struggled with so far this season on both sides, so it’s great to see they’ve begun to turn it around. They currently sit 12th in the KIJHL in both Powerplay percentage (15.60%) and Penalty Kill percentage (81.52%) but have seen those numbers improve during this stretch of October games on the road.

The trend of consistent and improved play will have continue for the team this week, as they’ll have a quick turnaround to a home game on Tuesday night. They’ll face a stiff test, as the Princeton Posse arrive for their first of three visits to the Summerland Arena this season. The Steam and the Posse have seen each other twice already, a 4-0 Summerland win on September 8th and a 7-4 Posse victory on September 29th, both in Princeton.

The Posse are currently the third place in the Okanagan Division, holding a 7-5 record through 12 games of action. Summerland sits ahead of them by three points, having played three more games at 8-6-1-0. The division is led by the league leading Kelowna Chiefs, who stretched their record to 14-0-0-1 through 15 games with a victory over the North Okanagan Knights last Saturday night.

The Posse possess a lot of things that Summerland will need to be mindful of, including power forward and team captain Lane French and defender Noah Brusse, who will jump in on offense at every opportunity. This opens them up to giving up odd-man rushes, but their goaltending has been able to hold them together all season long with the tandem of Jayson MacLean and Dominic Bosa. Summerland has seen the right hander, Bosa, in both games they’ve played against the Posse this season.

The Posse have a ‘score by committee’ attitude, but rely a lot on 2001 born local forward Austin O’Neill. The 17-year old forward is in his second season with the Posse, playing 33 games last season and scoring just six points (1G, 5A). This season’s been a coming out party for him so far, as he’s established himself as Princeton’s most dynamic forward and top scorer, netting six goals and fourteen points already in just 11 games.

Terrence Josephson and newcomer Achille Casali have been bright spots on offense as well for Mark MacNaughton’s Posse, contributing at a near point per game pace. Casali is a known trigger man, scoring seven goals in his first seven games as a member of the Similkameen based Posse.

“We’ve seen them a couple of times already this season and we know what they’re about,” Says Steam Head Coach John Depourcq, “Playing games in the barn in Princeton is a little different than playing anywhere else, so it’ll be nice to get a look at them in our barn and see if they come at us any differently. They’re a good hockey team, a deep team that works hard every shift so we’ll have to make sure we’re prepared to match them shift for shift.”

Puck drop is 7:30pm on Tuesday night at the Summerland Arena, and the Summerland Steam will debut a Special Edition jersey for the remainder of October and all of November’s home games. The jersey, presented by the ONNI Group, has a pink twist to Summerland’s traditional home jersey, and will be auctioned off in support of the Canadian Cancer Society to help raise funds for cancer research.

Pre-Game for Tuesday night’s tilt will go at 7:15 ahead of a 7:30 puck drop with myself and Joel Barg on playfullscreen.com.

3 KEYS – SUMMERLAND STEAM @ SPOKANE BRAVES

GAME DAY!7_30PMSUMMERLAND ARENA

For the first time in over three years, the Summerland Steam visit the Spokane Braves tonight at the Eagles Ice-A-Rena in Spokane, Washington. The last time the Steam crossed the border to play a KIJHL game was the 2015/16 season when the picked up a 5-3 victory in Spokane on September 19, 2015. In that game, Cole Woodliffe would score four times before promptly leaving to join the Weyburn Red Wings of the SJHL as a 17-year old player. Woodliffe completed his 20-year old season with the Red Wings in 2017/18, which puts into perspective how long it’s been since Summerland made their last visit across the border.

In that season, the Steam and Braves were polar opposites. The Steam made a run deep into the post season, falling in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference Final to the eventual Western Canadian Champion 100 Mile House Wranglers. The Braves, meanwhile, missed the playoffs that year for the first time in recent memory and won just 10 games that season.

This season’s been vastly different thus far for both teams. The Braves have had a good start to the season, winning five of their first eleven contests and losing twice in overtime. The Steam have been up and down like a yo-yo early on with a 6-6-1-0 record, but are coming off a 12-2 trouncing of the Kamloops Storm last Saturday night.

Expect a good, even hockey game tonight from two teams who are similar in age and skill set, but play two very different ways.

3 KEYS – SUMMERLAND STEAM @ SPOKANE BRAVES

  1. WRANGLE THE BEAR – First of all, no, not a real bear that’s terrifying. The Spokane Braves are led by rookie scoring sensation Bear Hughes, who’s made his case for AT LEAST the Divisional Rookie of the Year already with 13 goals and 21 points in just 11 games. At 17-years old and standing 6 feet tall and weighing it at 170lb, the man-child from Post Falls, Idaho has taken the scoring reigns for the Braves and hasn’t let go. He, along with forwards Alex Enegren and Aaron Morris carry the load offensively for the Braves, and Summerland will have to watch them all carefully or they could get burned quite quickly.
  2. DRIVE FORWARD – The Spokane Braves seem to be offense heavy, meaning that they’re willing to go blow for blow offensively in hopes that they’ll outscore their opponent through 60 minutes. They’re 5-0-0-2 in games where they’ve scored 3 or more goals, and 0-4 in games when they’ve scored 2 or less. The obvious key for Summerland tonight will be to hold the Braves to less than three goals, but also to push the Braves backwards and make them work to score their goals. If Summerland can attack with precision on the forecheck, they’ll have success in tonight’s game.
  3. BE AGGRESSIVE – The third key for the Summerland Steam tonight is to be aggressive. Not so aggressive that penalties are taken, but aggressive enough to win puck battles, fight for space in front of the net, and create some traffic in front of the Braves goaltender. Summerland is at their best when they make this happen, and it’ll take their best effort tonight to beat the Spokane Braves.

Puck drop goes at 7:00pm, with pre-game starting (wait, what?) at 6:30pm with Ryan Rhode and Greg Rentz on playfullscreen.com.

After the game tonight, the Summerland Steam will play the Beaver Valley Nitehawks tomorrow night (7:30pm, PST) before returning home to face the Princeton Posse on Tuesday night at the Summerland Arena.

STEAM PICK UP 3 OF 4 ROAD POINTS

With a couple of road games this weekend against historically tough opponents, the Summerland Steam set out with hopes of coming home with more than just a pair of points. In their first five weekend sets, they were able to split all of them and get 2 of 4 points. This weekend, they did one better, recording a 2-2 tie against the Osoyoos Coyotes on Friday night before EXPLODING in a 12-2 victory against the Kamloops Storm on Saturday.

Friday’s contest might have been the best game of the season thus far. Both goaltenders, Summerland’s Jared Breitkreuz and Osoyoos’ Bailey Monteith put on a show stopping a combined 80 of 84 shots in the game. They each recorded a tie on their record, with Breitkreuz making 37 stops and Monteith stopping 43 through 70 minutes of play.

Brandon Della-Paolera opened the scoring for the Coyotes early in the second period before Summerland’s captain, Everett Scherger, tied the game at 1 with mere seconds to play in the frame. The goal, Scherger’s 4th of the season, came on a 5v3 power play and sent the game to the third period tied at one.

It would stay that way for the majority of the period, until Peter Michailides scored his first KIJHL goal with 3:50 to play to give the Coyotes the lead. He was able to locate a loose rebound in front of Breitkreiuz and make good on it to put his team in the driver’s seat as the clock ticked down.

Summerland would push, however, and found a way to tie the game with 1:07 to play thanks to Cairo Rogers. Rogers’ 2nd of the season, on a loose rebound of his own, tied the game at 2 and earned the Steam a point. The Coyotes got one too, their first since Opening Night on September 8th, and we headed for overtime. In the extra frame(s) both teams had chances but nothing was solved, as we finished in a 2-2 tie.

The goaltenders were named the stars of the game, and so they should have been as both had moments of brilliance in a game that was as back and forth as ever. The pace was fast, there was limited nastiness, and both teams had chances all night long. It will stand as a good building block for two young hockey teams if they continue to play the way they played on Friday night.

The Steam rode the hot hand of Jared Breitkreuz into Kamloops on Saturday night, where he made a second consecutive start against the Kamloops Storm. The Storm, just 2-8-0-0 coming into Saturday night’s game, had beaten the North Okanagan Knights by a 6-3 score on Friday night and were looking to build on their second win of the year.

Summerland had other ideas.

The Steam pasted the Storm by a 12-2 score, getting a hat-trick from Mitch Gove (2,3,4), 2 goals each from Cody Swan (3,4), Zak Cooper (2,3) and Brett Wilson (1,2), as well as singles from Sean Wilson (1), Everett Scherger (5), and Liam McLaren (6). Breitkreuz was only forced to make 20 saves on 22 shots to pick up the victory.

The game on Saturday night saw the good in the Summerland Steam, as they worked efficiently in all zones and were able to pickup a couple of power play goals, a shorthanded goal, and a slew of even strength goals against the Storm. The Steam were also able to remain perfect (4/4) on the penalty kill, which has been something of a rarity so far this season. It was a good stepping stone for the team, who will go on a tough road trip next weekend to Spokane (5-4-0-2) and Beaver Valley (8-5-0-0) before returning home the following Tuesday, October 23rd for a home date with the Princeton Posse.

At the 13 game mark, we’ve past the quarter mark of the KIJHL season and the Summerland Steam sit at 6-6-1-0. Overall it’s been a good first month and a half for a young hockey team trying to find their footing in a perennially strong Okanagan Division. Their veteran players are carrying the load offensively while the younger players get acclimated to junior hockey, which is exactly what you want.

There haven’t been too many standout performances thus far, but simply a group that is learning how to play together as a team and come together for a common goal. That goal is not necessarily to come away with 2 points every night (looking at you, Kelowna Chiefs) but simply to be competitive and play the right way on a consistent basis.

They’ll get back to work at the Eagles Ice Arena on Friday night in Spokane, before making a rare visit to the madhouse that is the Beaver Valley Arena in Fruitvale for a date with the Nitehawks on Saturday night. Both games will be available on playfullscreen.com with quality broadcasters available for both games (unlike Kamloops last Saturday, for anyone who ordered that one I would complain to playfullscreen.com and get a refund.)

Puck drop goes at 7:00pm Friday, and 7:30pm Saturday.

STEAM READY FOR ROAD BATTLES, 3 KEYS – STEAM VS COYOTES

img_1010

Photo: Tami Quan Photography

October 12, 2018

Summerland, BC

With a new weekend on the horizon, the Summerland Steam are preparing for a couple of road games and a chance to break the cycle of ‘splitting’ their weekends. In 5 weekends of KIJHL play, the Steam have seen themselves split every weekend set thus far, with their only singular loss coming on a Tuesday night to bring their record to 5-6.

On paper, the set of games coming up this weekend looks as scary as it gets in the KIJHL, with dates set to face the Osoyoos Coyotes Friday and the Kamloops Storm on Saturday night. Both of these teams have been perennial powerhouses in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference, with one or both making a Conference or League final appearance in seemingly every year for the last eight or so seasons.

Both, however, have gone different directions this season with their coaching staffs. Longtime Head Coach of the Osoyoos Coyotes, Ken Law, is now with the Kelowna Chiefs after he and the Coyotes parted ways during the off-season. Likewise for the Kamloops Storm, Ed Patterson moved on from the program after several years at the helm there in favour of a new voice and face behind the bench. For Kamloops that voice is Jassi Sangha, a former player and the franchise leader in goals scored who was tapped to take over for Patterson after his departure. Sangha inherited not only a young group looking to gain their footing in the KIJHL, but also a bit of a media circus as well with the situation of Storm owner and GM Barry Dewar and his dealings with BC Hockey and the KIJHL that resulted in fines and levies against both the organization and some of it’s staff related to alleged tampering during the off-season.

Both the Storm and the Coyotes have arguably the youngest and most inexperienced hockey teams they’ve ever had, and like the Summerland Steam, have gotten off to sub-par starts in 2018/19.

The Coyotes, who the Steam will see Friday night for the second time, are as young as they’ve ever been. According to eliteprospects.com, their age average over the past four seasons prior to 2018/19 has been somewhere between 19.03 and 19.13. This season that average at present time is 17.81, meaning the majority of their players will turn 18 at some point during the 2018/19 season. They are the third youngest team in the KIJHL, with only the Kamloops Storm and Chase Heat having a younger average player age.

Partner that with a new Head Coach & GM in Mark Chase, new systems, and only 5 returning players from last season’s team and the recipe is made for the 1-7-0-0 record to start the season. They haven’t had easy competition, either, seeing the Kelowna Chiefs, Revelstoke Grizzlies, Fernie Ghostriders, and Grand Forks Border Bruins, among others.

There’s some talent in the ranks wearing burgundy, white and black, but there’s also a steep learning curve and an adjustment period coming from midget hockey to junior hockey and playing against larger, older, and stronger players. This season’s Coyotes don’t have a Rainer Glimpel, Judd Repole, or Daniel Stone to help carry the team offensively, but they do have the talent to compete as a group once they get their feet wet in the KIJHL. Carter Shannon, the Coyotes’ captain for 2018/19 leads the team with a point per game average, and plays both forward and defense in all situations when called upon. If his work ethic on the ice rubs off on the rest of his teammates, it won’t be long before the Coyotes are ready to do some damage and make a run up the standings board.

That time should be coming soon, so for the Summerland Steam it will be important to get off to a good start and make sure to apply pressure early on Friday night. The Steam have been getting goals from all over the place in recent games, led by Cory Loring, Liam McLaren, and Linden Gove. They’ve also been doing a better job of moving as a 5-man unit, which is ultra important heading out on the road for their next four games before returning home October 23rd.

The Steam did make a roster move ahead of games this weekend, as they needed to get their numbers down now that all players are healthy. The team traded 2001 born forward Raeyden Beauchamp (Williams Lake, BC) and 2000 born defenceman Kyle Porritt (Kelowna, BC) to the Chase Heat.

3 KEYS – SUMMERLAND STEAM VS OSOYOOS COYOTES

  1.   KEEP IT SIMPLE  On the road, every team will know it’s tough to get a win, but it’s been particularly tough for the Summerland Steam over the years to pick up wins at the Sun Bowl.
  2.     TRAFFIC              –  Despite the Coyotes record of 1-7-0-0 and the numbers so far this season, Coyotes goaltender Daniel Paul is a showstopper. He has the ability to steal games, and as long as he can see the puck it has to be expected that he’s going to stop it and make a rebound unavailable. Summerland will need to get traffic to the front of the goal, and make life difficult for either Paul or Bailey Monteith, whomever starts for the Coyotes.
  3.     DISCIPLINE         – This has been a recurring part of the “3-Keys” segments so far this year, but until something changes it has to stay here. The Steam have spent the 2nd most time shorthanded in the conference, with the Sicamous Eagles being the only more penalized team in the conference, and it’s been killing them so far this season. The Steam have given up 17 power play goals on 75 opportunities against, giving them the 18th ranked penalty kill in the KIJHL. If you’re going to be shorthanded as much as the Steam have been, that penalty kill needs to be up in the Top 5 to do any better than a .500 record. Look for them to be a little more disciplined, and spend a little more time at 5-on-5 this weekend against Osoyoos and Kamloops.

Puck drop from the Sun Bowl tonight goes at 7:35pm, with the broadcast taking place on playfullscreen.com with Tom Shields and Damien Hannah. In a pre-game ceremony tonight, the Coyotes will retire the jersey of longtime forward Judd Repole, who spent his entire 209 game junior career with the Coyotes spanned over five seasons. Repole, the leader in Games Played for the Coyotes’ franchise, and co-leader in assists with former teammate Rainer Glimpel, was a leader both on and off the ice for the Coyotes in his five seasons, and quite frankly one of the good guys off the ice as well.

Puck drop for the Steam in Kamloops on Saturday night is also 7:30PM. Stay tuned for ‘3 Keys’ tomorrow prior to puck-drop.

 

 

STEAM SPLIT PAIR OF DIVISIONAL GAMES, SET FOR COYOTES FRIDAY

img_1011

Photo: Tami Quan Photography

Heading into this past weekend’s games, the Summerland Steam knew they would be hard pressed to get better results than the split they’d recorded the past four weekends in a row. With two divisional games against two tough opponents, Summerland was looking for solid effort and a positive step forward as their young hockey team learns the ropes of the KIJHL and gets settled into what is ultimately a very long season.

They began the weekend with the stiffest test of all, as the 9-0-0-1 Kelowna Chiefs came to town for the first time this season. It wasn’t the first time the two teams had met this season, with Kelowna putting the boots to the Steam by a 7-2 score in Rutland on September 25th. It was the first chance for Summerland to see them on home ice, and it was much different than their previous meeting. The result was the same, but the game was much different and much more even. Summerland did well to stick with the high powered Chiefs, but ultimately fell by a 4-2 score thanks to a penalty shot goal from Devin Sutton and two power play goals from Kayson Gallant and Dylan Kent. Myles Matilla would score the other for the Chiefs, while goaltender Braeden Mitchell stole the show to pick up the victory.

Mitchell wasn’t busy, facing just 21 total shots, but he was stellar when called upon in the victory. Summerland counted 8 ‘Grade A’ scoring chances at the Kelowna goal, but was only able to score twice in the third period. Those goals came courtesy of Cory Loring (PPG, 4), and Liam McLaren (4), while Steam goaltender Jared Breitkreuz took the loss in goal making 15 saves.

In what was really a ‘snoozer’ of a hockey game, the Steam and the Chiefs went back and forth at a good pace but never really buzzed around either net. The Chiefs picked up the two points though, thanks again to their power play and taking advantage of their opportunities, to move to 9-0-0-1 on the season. They were able to beat up on the Creston Valley Thundercats by a 10-1 score the following night to move their record to 10-0-0-1, and continue to lead the KIJHL standings with 21 of a possible 22 points through play last weekend.

For Summerland, it was a trip to Nor-Val and a visit to the North Okanagan Knights on Saturday that saw them earn their split with a 6-4 victory on the road. Linden Gove opened the scoring, and was able to complete a first period hat-trick as the Steam scored four times on six shots on Knights starting goaltender Koltin Dodge. Dodge lifted himself with 1:58 to play in the first period, making way for Austin Madge to play the remainder of the game for the Knights.

After Gove opened the scoring just 1:17 into the game, the Knights scored two unanswered goals to lead 2-1. Gove would add his second of the period to tie the game at 2 and set off a stretch of three Steam goals in 1:24 to see them take the lead 4-2 after a period.

The Steam would add two more in the second period, as Mitchell Gove potted his first KIJHL goal in his second game to extend Summerland’s lead to 5-2. The Knights would get one back from Ty Toppe to close the game to 5-3, but that would be as close as they would get. Cory Loring restored the Steam’s three goal lead late in the second period, and the Steam would hang on for a 6-4 victory.

Eric Scherger made 24 saves for the victory, his third of the season, while Linden Gove was named the game’s first star.

The Steam will now reload, and get ready for a battle with the division rival Osoyoos Coyotes on Friday night at the Sun Bowl. They’ll take on the Coyotes on Friday night, and travel to play the Kamloops Storm on Saturday night at Kamloops Memorial Arena.

The Steam will make their first regular season visit to the desert carrying a 5-6-0-0 record with them so far this season. They’ll hope to go to the desert ready to start a streak that puts them up near the top of the division, and start to put that beleaguered past at the Sun Bowl (Ugh) behind them.

The Coyotes, meanwhile, have struggled to a 1-7-0-0 record in their first eight games under new Head Coach and General Manager Mark Chase, while also being one of the youngest teams in the KIJHL. The Coyotes saw only 5 players return from their 2017/18 team, including captain Carter Shannon and goaltender Daniel Paul. Both have been solid for an otherwise inexperienced Coyotes team through 8 games thus far, and will be imperative to the team to provide leadership and stability as they try to work their way back from that 1-7-0-0 start to the season.

On Friday night the Coyotes will retire the #18 of longtime forward Judd Repole. A native of Prince Rupert, BC, Repole played five seasons with the Coyotes, completing his 20-year old season in 2017/18. In those five seasons, Repole played 267 games including playoffs, and tallied 64 goals and 145 assists while playing in all situations for longtime Head Coach & GM Ken Law. He was arguably (in my opionion) the most “complete” player in the history of the Coyotes franchise, being counted on for heavy minutes in all three zones and on special teams, while also leading young players both on and off the ice for five straight seasons.

That ceremony will take place ahead of a 7:35pm start in Osoyoos on Friday, so be sure to make the drive or tune in with Tom Shields on playfullscreen.com

3 KEYS – SUMMERLAND STEAM VS KELOWNA CHIEFS

img_1008

Photo: Tami Quan Photography

October 5, 2018

Summerland, BC

For the second time this season, and the first time at the Summerland Arena, the Summerland Steam and the Kelowna Chiefs will do battle on Friday night in KIJHL action.

The Chiefs are off to the hottest start in the KIJHL, having gone the entire first month of the season without a regulation time loss. They started 7-0-0-0, before taking an OT loss at the hands of the Princeton Posse one week ago. They bounced back from that with a victory at Rutland Arena over the defending KIJHL Champion Kimberley Dynamiters on Saturday night.

For the Summerland Steam it’s been a different story, and a bit of a yo-yo to start the year. In 4 weekends, they’ve earned four splits, and they also lost a midweek game to these same Chiefs by a 7-2 score just 10 days ago. Last weekend they were able to pickup a victory over Osoyoos by a 6-0 score, before taking a 7-4 loss to the Princeton Posse on Saturday.

Both the Steam and the Chiefs start their October schedules tonight with a meeting at The Station in Summerland. Summerland will spend the majority of October on the bus, playing only two home games in the entire month. They’ll visit the North Okanagan Knights twice, while visiting each of the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, Spokane Braves, 100 Mile House Wranglers, Kamloops Storm and Osoyoos Coyotes. Their only other home game of the month comes Tuesday, October 23rd against the Princeton Posse.

The Chiefs, on the other hand, will have a pretty even schedule in October playing three home games and five road games as they look to lengthen their lead in the Okanagan Division Standings. They’ll play Summerland, Grand Forks, North Okanagan, Nelson and Beaver Valley on the road, while hosting Creston, Osoyoos and North Okanagan at the Rutland Arena.

The Chiefs boast far and away the most talented offense in the conference, led by KIJHL leading scorer Brody Dale. Dale’s put up a mere 28 points in 9 regular season games, and sits just 9 points off the Chiefs’ franchise record for career points (169) currently held by former standout Nic Josephs. He’s not the only one, either, as Devin Sutton, Lane Paddison, Juanre Naude, Zac Erhardt each contribute on a nightly basis to make the Chiefs the most dangerous team in the conference. All six of these players could be playing Junior A (in my opinion) and may get their chance sometime this season if they keep putting up these sorts of numbers.

Their depth is what makes them so dangerous, and it’s tough to stay with them on a regular basis. Summerland was undone in their last meeting by the Chiefs power play, which went 5-7 on route to that 7-2 victory on September 25. That’s where we’ll start with our three keys to tonight’s game:

3 KEYS – SUMMERLAND VS KELOWNA

  1. DISCIPLINE – This has been a key in every segment of our ‘3 keys’ so far this season, but it’s especially imperative against a team like the Kelowna Chiefs. They’re dangerous enough at 5-on-5, and on the power play they’re downright nasty. This was before they acquired 20-year old defender Dylan Kent from the Beaver Valley Nitehawks this week, who is a point per game defender and ‘power play quarterback’ type.
  2. SHOTS ON GOAL – Summerland has done a much better job recently of driving shots on goal and getting traffic there as well. That is especially important against the Kelowna Chiefs, because both goalies ’employed’ by the Chiefs are very good at stopping what they can see. The best bet for Summerland to get on the board early and often is going to be to fire pucks into the feet of whichever goaltender is tapped by Ken Law to start this game, and make him either make saves or create rebounds in front of the goal.
  3. DRIVER’S SEAT – For the Summerland Steam, they know by now that it’s easier to play from in front than it is to play from behind. It’s important that they get off to a good start, and there’s a couple of different ways they can do that. It doesn’t necessarily mean scoring first, although that would be nice, but it’s more than that. They need to get pucks deep behind the Chiefs defense, and attack with a strong forecheck. If Kelowna’s best weapon is their offensive prowess, you might as well make them start from 200 ft. away.

Opening face-off goes tonight at 7:30pm, with pre-game coming your way at 7:15 with myself and Joel Barg on the Coastal Eye Clinic Pre-Game Show.

 

 

STEAM EARN ANOTHER SPLIT, ATTEMPT TO FIND FOOTING IN OKANAGAN DIVISION

20180908210626(1)

Photo: Chris Swan

October 2nd, 2018

Summerland, BC

For the fourth weekend in a row to start the 2018/19 KIJHL season, the Summerland Steam earned a split this past weekend in games against the Osoyoos Coyotes and the Princeton Posse. The Steam faced the Coyotes at home on Friday night, pouring it on in a 6-0 victory that saw the two young teams combine for 85 penalty minutes, 21 power play opportunities and a whole lot of animosity.

For how much ‘new blood’ is involved in the Steam-Coyotes rivalry in 2018/19, a lot of people around the two teams thought we might get a bit of a quiet start in the first game of a six game set in 2018/19. It was the exact opposite effect, in fact, that saw Summerland go 2-for-12 on the power play on route to their victory.

They struck first on the penalty kill, as Linden Gove was able to notch his fourth goal of the season on a shorthanded 2-on-1 break with Cody Swan. Swan did the legwork, snatching the puck from a Coyotes defender and breaking into offensive territory. He found Gove moving to the far post, who was able to cut back with the puck and beat Osoyoos goaltender Daniel Paul to open the scoring for the Steam.

It would be the only goal of the first half, with Summerland then adding three in the back half of the second period to break the game wide open. They outshot the Coyotes 16-4 in the middle frame, and really took control of the hockey game. The second period scoring started courtesy of a power play goal from Cody Swan at 8:53, his second goal of the season, after a pass from Ty Banser found Cory Loring in the slot. Loring fired a shot that hit Daniel Paul before Swan was able to locate a rebound and deposit it to make the lead 2-0.

The Steam would then score twice in :55 seconds. The first, courtesy of Tyson Conroy’s second of the season, was a long point shot that found it’s way through traffic. Originally thought to have hit Steam captain Everett Scherger on the way to the goal, it was credited to Conroy on the power play with 1:46 remaining in the period to extend the Steam lead to 3-0. The goal came mere seconds after Daniel Paul made a ‘save of the year’ candidate at the right post.

Just :55 seconds later, Liam McLaren would chime in with his first of two on the night, and the season, with a gorgeous shot off the rush. McLaren was able to find a loose puck off an errant Coyotes shot and find some space down the left wing side. McLaren was allowed to walk over the Coyotes’ blue line, and beat the goaltender Paul with a laser to the glove side to close out second period scoring and send Summerland to the dressing room with a 4-0 lead.

Tristan Hewitt would then find himself in the right place at the right time to collect his first KIJHL goal just a couple of minutes into period number three. Hewitt was the beneficiary of a misplay from Coyotes goaltender Daniel Paul, who fanned on a pass and let the puck run straight to Hewitt who knocked it in to extend the lead to 5-0.

McLaren would add his second of the night and round out the scoring just :10 seconds later off the ensuing face-off. Summerland found themselves with the puck off the draw, and they dumped the puck in deep. Tristan Hewitt went after it, and found McLaren in the slot who had time to settle and shoot, beating Daniel Paul to close out the scoring and button up a 6-0 Summerland victory.

In all of this, Jared Breitkreuz had a quiet night in the Summerland goal, needing to stop just 20 Coyotes shots for the shutout. He faced but a handful of what would be considered ‘dangerous’ opportunities for the Coyotes, and kept the zero on the board throughout.

The same couldn’t be said the following night in Princeton, where the Steam traveled to take on the Posse for the second time this season. The Posse stormed out to a 3-0 lead early, with Tyler Stinchcombe connecting on the power play just 1:11 into the hockey game. Lane French and Terrence Josephson would also add first period goals, and the Summerland Steam found themselves in a serious hole to start period number two.

Stinchcombe would add his second of the night, another power play goal, to make it 4-0 early in the second, before Summerland would begin to crawl back into the hockey game. Morey Babakaiff would chime in with his first goal of the season, assisted by Brett & Sean Wilson to cut the lead back to 3. The Wilson twins found themselves on a 2-on-1 but couldn’t convert, instead finding Babakaiff off the bench who made no mistake to make it 4-1.

Tyson Conroy would then add a power play goal at 7:09 to cut the lead to 4-2, his third of the season, putting a shot on goal that beat Posse goaltender Dominic Bosa low to the glove side. This gave Summerland some life, and they controlled the majority of the remainder of the second period without adding another goal.

They were able to continue to cut the defecit in the third period, as the same work ethic appeared at the start of the third as they carried for most of the second period. Linden Gove would make it a one goal game with 15:04 remaining, his fifth of the season, with a wicked wrister from the slot that beat Dominic Bosa high to make it 4-3.

Liam McLaren would score his third goal in two games, and third of the season to complete the comeback with just over 7:00 remaining. McLaren was able to tip a point shot and change it’s direction, beating a surprised Bosa to tie the game at 4 apiece.

Unfortunately, after completing their comeback the Steam would see their discipline come back to bite them once again. After scoring four unanswered goals and erasing what was an absolutely dreadful start, the Steam took a penalty with 6:25 to play that would be the beginning of the end for them.

Terrence Josephson would score his second of the night for the Princeton Posse with 5:29 to play that would stand as the game winning goal. Achille Casali would add insurance with 4:11 remaining, and Austin O’Neill would dump one into an empty net to seal the win for the Posse by a 7-4 score.

Bosa took the victory for the Posse making 35 saves, while Eric Scherger took the loss for the Steam stopping 32 Posse shots in the process.

WHAT’S NEXT?

With the split on the weekend, Summerland’s record falls to 4-5 in nine games. They, along with three other divisional teams (Kelowna, the exception) are trying to figure out what they’ve got and what kind of team they’re going to be moving forward as the season nears the quarter mark. All of Summerland, Princeton, North Okanagan and Osoyoos are very young, very inexperienced hockey teams with a lot of learning and growing potential in their systems, and it will be fun to watch these four teams develop as the season goes along. Very few impact players returned to these four squads over the course of the off-season, with some moving on to university ranks, others into Junior A across the country, and some moving on to life after hockey.

The Steam, coming off divisional games last weekend with Osoyoos and Princeton, will now get to work to prepare for the Kelowna Chiefs coming to town on Friday night (7:30pm start). The Chiefs remain the only exception to the “young and inexperienced” narrative in the Okanagan Division, and should run away with the division and possibly the conference because of the level of impact players returned from last year’s team.

These include Brody Dale, Devin Sutton, Lane Paddison, Zach Erhardt, Juanre Naude, and Isaac Dutka, to name a few. All have the skill to be playing Junior A (at least in my opinion), and make the Chiefs far and away the most dangerous team in the Okanagan Division. If you add some of their impressive rookies (Ryan Stack, Jordan Woytas, et all), they’re likely the deepest team in the KIJHL with their captain, Tyler Love, playing on the “third” or “fourth” line. The only team that rivals their skill level in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference, or at least has shown it thus far, is the Revelstoke Grizzlies.

The Nelson Leafs and Kimberley Dynamiters in the Kootenay Conference also pose a threat to Kelowna’s bid for a league title, but in my opinion it should be theirs to lose. They’ve put together a long list of talented returnees, as well as done very well to get the winningest Coach in recent Okanagan Division history in Ken Law. Their Hockey Ops department (Law, GM Grant Sheridan, and Director of Hockey Operations, Jason Tansem) have also made some excellent recruitment choices in the players they’ve brought in to compliment that returning talent core, and it’s showing in their early season results.

They’re 8-0-0-1 through their first nine games, and boast the reigining Okanagan Shuswap Conference Player of the Month in Brody Dale, as well as one of the best goaltenders in the conference in rookie Braeden Mitchell. Mitchell has started his season by posting a 5-0-0-1 record with a .936% Save percentage and 1.85 Goals Against Average. Those numbers are pretty solid, and it will take some big work to beat the big Chiefs goaltender.

If Summerland is going to be successful this weekend, it’s going to come down to their discipline. In their only encounter with the Chiefs thus far, Summerland allowed Kelowna to score five times on seven power play opportunities on the way to a 7-2 loss. It’s something that can’t happen again if they want to be successful Friday night.

Summerland IGA is the Game Sponsor for the October 5th affair, offering giveaways as well as their famous ‘Paper Plate Toss’ to win items placed all over the ice including hams, turkeys, and all the fixings for your Thanksgiving feasts!