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

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