October 5, 2018
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.