October 12, 2018
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.