STEAM START WITH SHOWCASE, HOPING FOR POST-HOLIDAY SURGE

wear yourself out

DECEMBER 27, 2018

SUMMERLAND, BC – Seemingly every year, the KIJHL Holiday Break seems to sneak up on most of us. Alas, here we are, and for the Summerland Steam the break lasted twelve days. They broke after a December 14th loss, 4-2 at the hands of the North Okanagan Knights that saw Summerland jump out to a 2-0 lead before watching as the Knights came back to score four unanswered goals.

Summerland’s Cody Swan helped the team out to a 2-0 first period lead with a goal (15) and an assist in the first period, while newcomer Lane French notched a pair of assists in his first period as a full-time member of the Steam. Liam McLaren (10) scored the other goal for the Steam as the buzzer sounded on the first period and they led 2-0.

Vineet Kaila led the charge for the Knights with a trio of assists in the final two periods, while Jett Saharchuk (19) drove in the dagger with just 1:11 to play to break a 2-2 tie. Alec McLeod (16) would add an empty net goal in the dying seconds to close out scoring. Cameron McKenzie (7) and Ty Tippett (1) added the other goals for the Knights while Austin Madge picked up his 9th win of the season making 25 saves, while Summerland’s Eric Scherger suffered defeat while stopping 28.

At 17-11-1-2, the Summerland Steam have exceeded the expectations set out for a young hockey team learning the ropes of junior hockey as the unofficial ‘first half’ comes to a close. They sit 2nd in their division, third in their conference and are the only team to beat the Kelowna Chiefs, largely considered the best Junior B team in Western Canada, in regulation time.

They’ve made some additions since the start of the season, bringing in the likes of Mitchell Gove, Kaden Moravek, and Lane French to supplement a squad that possesses speed, skill, and a little bit of grit to make them tough to play against. They’ve scored the 3rd most power play goals in the KIJHL behind only Kimberley and Kelowna, and have jumped from 15th to 7th in the rankings of power play percentages since November 2nd.

In that span, they’re 8-4-0-1 in 13 games, and have solidified themselves as the second seed in the Okanagan Division. They lead the third place Osoyoos Coyotes by eleven points, and look poised to clinch a playoff spot sometime in January.

They’ve become a team that’s flush with offensive talent, work ethic, and ‘sandpaper’ to string together some wins, and that’s what they’ve done and will look to continue to do as the calendar turns to 2019.

The Steam will start their post-Christmas schedule in a way that is neither enviable or familiar. Most guys who play junior hockey haven’t been in what’s considered a “morning game” in years, and the Steam will come back from a two week layoff with two of them in a row.

The KIJHL Showcase kicks off today in Kamloops, and runs through Saturday afternoon, December 29th. The Steam drew one of the short straws, apparently, as they’ll play the Grand Forks Border Bruins at 8am on Friday, and the Fernie Ghostriders at 10am on Saturday.

Their first test, the Grand Forks Border Bruins, have seen mixed results this season playing in a very tough division. They sit third in the Neil Murdoch Division, and have been very much up and down all season long posting a 13-16-1-1 record in 31 starts this season. They score A LOT, but they also give up A LOT. They’ve scored 124 times, fourth most in the KIJHL, but they’ve given up a league high 140 goals in their 31 games so far.

The ‘run and gun’ type style is something the Steam will have to look out for, and ensure they’re tight in the defensive zone. If they are, it’ll create them some opportunities to move the puck up ice with numbers and give them some offensive chances.

The Steam will see a familiar face when they hit the ice against the Border Bruins in former Steam forward Riley Smoler. Smoler, 19, started the 2017/18 season with the Steam before being traded to the Border Bruins for Cory Loring. Smoler has recently returned to the Border Bruins, suiting up in three games including Thursday’s showcase game against Revelstoke.

After their early morning foray on Friday, they’ll have to do it all over again Saturday against the Fernie Ghostriders. This time at 10:00am, the Steam will have to be on their game early once again if they want a pair of points for the bus ride home. Good starts are always key, but will be especially important in early games that players aren’t used to OR comfortable with.

The Riders sit third in the Eddie Mountain Division behind the Kimberley Dynamiters and Columbia Valley Rockies. At 16-10-1-3, the Riders have to be considered a ‘Comeback Story of the Year’ candidate in the KIJHL, and a feel good one at that. The Riders spent the majority of last season playing out of Sparwood after a tragic accident at the Fernie Memorial Arena forced its closure on October 17, 2017.

They were finally able to return to begin the 2018/19 schedule, and have taken a strong hold in the middle of an incredibly difficult Eddie Mountain Division. They’re led by a balanced, veteran forward group and a defence that’s tough to crack. They get solid goaltending as well, and surely play the rugged, physical style it takes to win games in arguably the league’s most volatile division.

For Summerland, both games this weekend will test not only their prowess on the ice and within their systems, but their mental prowess as well. Preparing for start times like 8:00 and 10:00 am isn’t an easy thing to do, and it’s going to be more important than ever to remember their systems, play the game with speed and tenacity and make the simple plays.

Both games are available on playfullscreen.com and will be called by Kelowna Chiefs Play-By-Play man and my good friend, Justin McCartney. The “home game” for the Steam will be the first since October of 2015 and just the second since September of 2013 that I haven’t been able to attend, but it’s for the best reason.

My wife, Emily and I are pleased to announce the birth of Jackson Stephen Henderson Hogg, born on December 23rd at 5:37pm.

📸 Ceiligh Tummon| Life & Love Photography

Happy Holidays, and enjoy some early morning Steam hockey these next two days!

ROGERS, MITCH GOVE LEAD STEAM TO 4-POINT WEEKEND

201811032002122

December 12, 2018

Summerland, BC – The Summerland Steam played their only two games of the month at the Summerland Arena this past weekend, picking up a pair of wins against the Chase Heat and the North Okanagan Knights. Looking at the standings, one would have thought it should be a breezy weekend for the Steam, with the Knights and the Heat sitting 5th in their respective divisions, and ninth and tenth in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference, respectively.

That of course, is on paper.

In reality, most teams in the league know that there’s never an easy game and any team can beat any other team on just about any given night. The Steam, for instance, were stomped by an 8-3 score the last time they visited Chase, and had a win and an overtime loss in two starts against the Knights heading into this weekend.

Summerland got the start they wanted, with Mitch Gove scoring his 9th of the season on a power play just over five minutes into the hockey game. Gove had a couple of attempts at the goal that were thwarted by Heat starter Geoff Drought, but he was successful on the third attempt. After Cairo Rogers retrieved a loose puck behind the Chase goal, it found Bevis Chou at the right point. Chou fed Gove at the left point, who went cross-seam for captain Everett Scherger. Scherger fed a pass back through the middle for what turned into a pretty give & go, and Gove finished it with a purpose to give his team a 1-0 lead.

The lead would hold until the middle of the second period when the Chase Heat were able to break through on the power play. With time winding down in a penalty to Everett Scherger, Chase broke up the right wing side. Heat captain Cam Watson fed it cross-ice for Evan Hughes, who buried it behind Jared Breitkreuz to tie the game at one goal apiece.

The tie would last just :31, as Mitch Gove again broke it with speed down the wing and a great move on Geoff Drought. As the puck came back into Summerland’s zone off the ensuing face-off, it swung around to the wall. Zack Cooper did a great job to move the puck through the middle of the ice, knowing he was going to take a hard hit from a Chase forechecker, and it sent Gove away with speed. He sped around a pair of defenders for a clear cut breakaway and made no mistake, going to his backhand and slipping it through the five-hole to restore the lead. Gove’s 10th of the season, assisted by Cooper and Chou, would send the Steam to the second period break with a one-goal lead.

The lead would stand through the first half of the third period, but Chase would eventually tie the hockey game at 2 with 11:42 to play. Cam Watson was the recipient of a drop pass from Branden Gremaud off the rush, and Watson made no mistake walking to the middle of the ice and wiring one by Breitkreuz to tie the score.

As the game went on it looked as though both teams were okay taking a point and forcing overtime, as play became slightly tentative with both teams trying not to make the last mistake. The mistake, however, was made by the Chase Heat as Ty Banser was able to pick a puck up at the Heat blue line and have a clear lane to the goal. Banser made no mistake beating Drought to the glove side for his 4th of the season, which would eventually stand as the game winner.

Summerland’s Jared Breitkreuz was once again solid in goal, turning away 27 Chase shots to pick up the victory. His biggest save of the night came on a Breckin Erichuk breakaway with just over 2:00 on the clock, preserving the one goal lead and eventual one-goal victory.

Breitkreuz improves his win-loss record to 10-6-0-1 in 18 appearances, including wins in three of his past four starts. He would receive the night off on Saturday, as Eric Scherger would take the net for Summerland to face the North Okanagan Knights. Scherger wouldn’t be busy on the night, facing just 14 shots on goal in a 6-3 Summerland victory.

The Knights would open the scoring thanks to a breakaway from Cameron MacKenzie late in the first period, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead after one.

Alec McLeod would add one for the Knights near the midway mark of period two to get them a two goal lead, and Summerland looked to be in deep once again against a team that was missing their top scorer in Jett Saharchuk as well as scoring winger Austin O’Neill and defenseman Raj Sangha.

There wasn’t much structure to it, but the Knights had a 2-goal lead until the 7:22 mark of the second period when Cairo Rogers netted his 5th of the season to cut the lead to 2-1. Rogers was the recipient of a pass from Morey Babakaiff in the slot, and he made no mistake in beating Knights goalie Austin Madge low to the blocker side.

Cody Swan would then chime in just 1:51 later to tie the game with his 13th of the season. Zack Cooper and Everett Scherger would assist on the goal, getting the puck to the slot for Swan to find. Swan did so, making a juke move to his right to find a puck and deposit it into the goal while falling down to tie the game at two.

Kevin-Thomas Walters would restore the lead for the Knights 1:42 after Swan tied the game, beating Eric Scherger to give the Knights a 3-2 lead.

Rogers, off a won draw by Everett Scherger and a bump back from Babakaiff, would deposit his second of the night and sixth of the season with :28 seconds left in the period to tie the game at three headed to the third frame. The goal came just :03 into a power play, and would be the first of three straight power play goals for the Steam to give them a commanding lead.

With the game tied at three, Summerland managed to find their legs to start the third period, and looked once again like the team that beat Kelowna by a 7-2 score on December 1st.

Mitch Gove would score the eventual game winner with 11:29 to play in the third period, on the power play, with a shot through traffic that found the top corner from the left point. Gove’s 12th of the season, assisted by Liam McLaren and Everett Scherger, would be all Summerland needed. It wasn’t all they would get.

Cody Swan scored his second of the night from an impossible angle just 1:08 later to give the Steam a commanding 2-goal lead. Swan was able to take a pass at the right post on the power play, and somehow beat Madge with a backhander for his 14th of the season.

Summerland would sit on that lead for the remainder of the night, adding a hat-trick goal from Cairo Rogers to seal the 6-3 victory. Rogers did great work to get to the front of the net and locate a rebound sitting in the crease for his seventh of the season to complete the hat trick.

In all, it was a pretty sloppy night for both teams and Summerland found a way to come out on top. The first two periods were unstructured in all zones as both teams struggled to establish their systems. Summerland was able to get back to their systems late in the second period, and used their talent to come away with a victory.

For Cairo Rogers, it was what I would call his best game of the season. He was tenacious on the forecheck, rode the line of physical play, and was rewarded with a trio of goals for his first KIJHL hat trick. The line of Rogers, Morey Babakaiff and Liam McLaren has been utilized this season as a forecheck heavy line for Head Coach John Depourcq, and it’s a style that suits the three of them perfectly. They along with the likes of Scherger, the Wilson twins, and Zack Cooper in particular make Summerland really difficult to handle up front, and it was evident this past weekend as they were able to overpower their opponents and let their talent take over.

The McLaren-Rogers-Babakaiff line combined for nine points on Saturday night, and will look to ride that wave this weekend when Summerland travels to North Okanagan. Not only will Summerland have the majority of their personnel available, but they’ve added a little more ‘bite’ to their lineup with the addition of Lane French this week from the Princeton Posse.

French, the Posse’s captain, comes to Summerland after two seasons in Princeton that established him as a fast, physical player with one of the hardest shots in the KIJHL. He deepens Summerland’s forward group and makes them even tougher to play against, which is something that will be required come playoff time if there’s any hope of getting out of the division and past the vaunted Kelowna Chiefs.

Having won three games in a row, Summerland will look to continue a hot run in December next Friday night when they head to Armstrong to face the North Okanagan Knights.

The Steam, 6-3-0-1 in their past ten games, have been riding a hot power play and improved defensive zone coverage as of late, and that will have to continue if they want to close the gap at the top of the conference with the Chiefs and the Revelstoke Grizzlies.

 

After the game on Friday the team will go separate ways for the holiday break before playing their two showcase games on December 28th at 8:00AM against Grand Forks, and December 29th at 10:00AM against Fernie. The timing of the showcase and the game times aren’t ideal, but it is what it is and they’ll look to be prepared to play meaningful games with start times earlier than their usual wake up times.

STEAM ACQUIRE POSSE CAPTAIN FRENCH

📸 instagram: lanefrench7

DECEMBER 11, 2018

SUMMERLAND, BC — The trading relationship between the Summerland Steam and the Princeton Posse added another chapter this week as the Steam have acquired Posse captain Lane French.

The Steam had previously acquired goal scoring leader Linden Gove as well as defenseman Dawson Jenner this past off-season from the Posse to help bring leadership and stability to both their forward and defensive groups.

The two organizations also came together in 2015/16 when the Posse acquired defender Matthew Monk from the Steam, and Summerland also acquired goaltender Spencer Huff during the 2014/15 season from the Posse.

This deal, the latest in the string of deals between the two, sees Lane French (’99) come to the Steam in exchange for the playing rights of ’00 F/D Tristan Hewitt. Hewitt recorded a goal and seven points in 25 games with the Steam this season while playing a combination of forward and defense in key situations including special teams and late-game scenarios. The Steam organization wishes Tristan the best in his new venture in Princeton.

“Obviously to get a good player, you have to send one in return and that’s certainly the case with Hewy (Tristan Hewitt),” Says Steam Head Coach John Depourcq, “He’s a great young man and he’s been a good soldier for us during his time here. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him, and he’s shown himself quite well in all situations. We hope there’s an opportunity for a little more playing time for him in Princeton, and we wish him the best moving forward.”

French, a 19-year old power forward, has put up nearly a point per game for the Posse this season. With 10 goals and 18 points in 26 games played, he was tied for the team lead in points at the time of the trade, and figures to slot into the top of Summerland’s lineup. He adds to a Steam forward group that already possesses grit, physical presence, talent and speed, and will likely play a big role for Head Coach John Depourcq through the remainder of the 2018/19 season and potentially beyond.

“We’re very happy to have the opportunity to bring a player like Lane to our organization,” Says Head Coach John Depourcq, “He’s obviously a guy we are familiar with having had him here as an affiliate and now playing against him for a couple of years. He’s a big, physical hockey player that possesses great speed and a heavy shot. He fits into our forward group very well, and makes an already tough group to play against even tougher.”

When asked, Depourcq had this to say about the adjustment period the team might face with a new player in the room:

“I think the adjustment period will be quick, if it’s anything at all. Obviously he’s got a couple of old teammates in Linden Gove and Dawson Jenner already in our room, plus playing at the Okanagan Hockey Academy and here as an affiliate player previously he knows quite a few guys on our team. Plus, he’s a leader on his team wearing the ‘C’ for them this year, he knows what it takes to fit into a dressing room and make things work. We’re excited to have him.”

Depourcq and the Steam organization are not unfamiliar with French, who played four games as an affiliate player during the 2016/17 season before signing with Princeton. He recorded one assist in those four games and has since developed into a big, physical power forward with a heavy shot. He was a power play quarterback for the Posse early in this season and could potentially fill the same role for the Steam going forward.

French will take part in practice with the Steam this week, and will likely be available to the coaching staff on Friday night when the team visits the North Okanagan Knights in Armstrong.

STEAM ALUMNUS HOLOWATY NAMED BCIHL PLAYER OF THE WEEK

When Blake Holowaty arrived early in the 2017/18 KIJHL Season from the Iroquos Falls Eskimos, the Summerland Steam hoped they had something special. Holowaty immediately took over as an offensive catalyst and earned the moniker ‘Big Game Blake’ for his propensity to score timely goals and make the right play at the right time when his team needed it the most.

Holowaty finished the 2017/18 regular season with 24 goals and 48 points in just 37 games during the regular season, and was second in playoff scoring with six points in seven games. The outstanding KIJHL season earned Holowaty a commitment to the University of Victoria, where the 21-year old studies in the field of Engineering.

Holowaty is also playing hockey for the Vikes, and leading the team in scoring with five goals and 12 points in 12 games played. He’s making himself known around the BCIHL the same way he did in his time with the Summerland Steam, a lead by example kind of guy both on the ice and away from it.

‘Big Game Blake’ showed up for the Vikes in particular this past weekend, helping them pick up just their second win of the season on Friday night over Trinity Western University. He picked up a goal and a pair of assists, including a highlight reel assist on the overtime winner.

Another goal the next night totaled Holowaty four points in the two games and earned him the BCIHL’s ANYTHING BRANDED Player of the Week for the week ending on December 2, 2018. He joined Mar Berry on the ‘Inside the BCIHL’ Podcast this past week. You can access that here:

Blake and the Vikes are finished the fall semester, and will return to action for one exhibition game before the holiday break. They’ll take on the U20 team from Kazakhstan on December 11th at the Langley Events Centre in Langley, BC. For the Vikes it’s a unique experience, and for the team from Kazakhstan it will serve as a tune-up for the World Junior Hockey Championships which take place in Vancouver and Victoria from December 26th, 2018 to January 5, 2019.

The Vikes return to their BCIHL schedule on Friday, January 4th, 2019 at 7:30 when they host another Steam alumnus, goaltender Matt Huber, and the Vancouver Island University Mariners.

All BCIHL hockey can be watched online on HockeyTV.

STEAM HAND CHIEFS FIRST REGULATION LOSS

Victoria Rich Photography

It wasn’t going to last forever, but the Kelowna Chiefs had a pretty impressive run to start the 2018/19 KIJHL season. They’d played 25 games without a regulation loss, and were a perfect 13-0-0-0 record on home ice at Rutland Arena when the Summerland Steam arrived for a contest last Saturday night. Three hours later, that was all changed.

The Steam, 6-3-0-1 in their last ten games, have been playing some of their best hockey recently against the toughest of competition. Saturday was no different, as the Chiefs (obviously) lead the league in not only points, but most if not all offensive and defensive categories. The stretch of games Summerland is coming out of includes games against 100 Mile House, Revelstoke, Kimberley, and Kelowna just to name a few, and the only team not in the top 3 in LEAGUE standings out of those names is the Wranglers, who sit 4th in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference and 10th in the league wide standings.

With their only game of this past weekend being that Saturday night contest in Rutland the Summerland Steam were amped up and ready to go when the puck dropped, but so were the Chiefs. Saturday was the second of four “Mental Health Awareness Games” for the Chiefs, presented by The Peacock Sheridan Group and Mindright.info. Mindright is an initiative started by Chiefs forward Myles Mattila that offers Peer To Peer Support for athletes and young people alike. It’s an initiative that Mattila has garnered national media attention for, and one that the KIJHL has adopted league wide to help lessen the stigma around mental health in not only hockey players, but young individuals in general.

📸 Steve Dunsmoor – Dunsmoor Creative

The Chiefs opened the scoring, as they often do, courtesy of Lane Paddison. Paddison potted his 14th of the season off a pass from Chiefs Captain Tyler Love, beating Steam starter Jared Breitkreuz to give the Chiefs a 1-0 lead.

The lead would last just 2:53 for the Chiefs, as Summerland would get on the board thanks to Cody Swan’s 11th of the season. Swan was able to get a stick on a long Cory Loring shot to beat Braeden Mitchell in the Kelowna goal and tie the game at 1.

The Steam would take the lead with 12:24 remaining in the first period as Cairo Rogers chimed in with his 4th of the year. He gave the Steam the lead by snagging a neutral zone pass from the Chiefs and heading in on a breakaway, beating Mitchell high to the blocker side.

Everett Scherger would stretch the lead to 3-1 for the visitors with his 8th of the season just a few minutes later, scoring shorthanded with 6:03 remaining in the first frame. Scherger was again able to intercept a pass from the Kelowna power play as they exited their own zone, and was free and clear towards the Kelowna goal. The Captain went backhand, forehand and was able to beat Mitchell to the blocker side to extend the lead.

Summerland would head to the locker room up a pair, but not before the Chiefs would have a dangerous power play opportunity. The Chiefs power play is among the top units in the league, and they score at an alarming rate. If not for this save from Jared Breitkreuz, the score is 3-2 heading to the first intermission and things are far more interesting:

The scoring would continue for Summerland in the second period. Linden Gove potted his 17th of the season on the power play just 1:42 in. Gove was the recipient of a pass from Cody Swan across the top seam of the Kelowna penalty kill, and made no mistake beating Braeden Mitchell to put the Steam up 4-1.

Liam McLaren would add another power play goal for the Steam with 9:16 to play in the period, having a Mitch Gove shot direct off him and into the net to make it 5-1. The younger Gove and Cody Swan would each pick up an assist on McLaren’s 9th of the season.

Just 45 seconds later, it was Morey Babakaiff’s turn. After the Chiefs made a foray into offensive territory, McLaren forced a turnover to spring Cairo Rogers down the left wing side. Rogers waited on a Chiefs defender before sliding the puck cross-crease to Babakaiff, who banged home his 10th of the season to push the Steam up 6-1.

There would be no change in the score until early in the third, when Babakaiff scored his 11th of the season on a cross-crease pass from Cory Loring. The third Summerland power play goal of the night rounded out the scoring for the visitors, and pushed them into a commanding 7-1 lead.

Juanre Naude would add one late for the Chiefs after he won a face-off battle in Steam territory. He was able to step through and wire his 10th of the season past Breitkreuz in the Steam goal to close the gap to five for the Chiefs, which was as close as they would come.

Top to bottom, Summerland played their best game of the season last Saturday night in Kelowna, and found a way to beat the best team in the province by a handy margin. They were successful in getting pucks deep into Chiefs’ territory and letting their forecheck do the work, as well as making quick, clean exits from the defensive zone to relieve potential pressure. The Steam also took advantage on the power play, as the Chiefs struggled to keep their composure in a situation they were unfamiliar with.

Making 30 saves, Jared Breitkreuz had likely his most sound game of the season against the Chiefs, making the simple saves he needed to make, controlling his rebounds, and being aggressive at the top of the crease when the time was right. He picked up his 9th win of the season, and is 7-2-1-0 in 11 appearances since October 12th.

Summerland’s veterans have been the ones shouldering the load for the team recently, coming up with big performances when they’re needed the most. Cody Swan (seven games) and Cory Loring (nine games) are both riding point streaks that could stretch to double digits in short order, while Everett Scherger has put up seven points (4g + 3a) in five games since returning from injury on November 16th. Linden Gove has also been hot, scoring eight times and adding an assist in eight games played since November 2nd. His brother Mitch, meanwhile, has averaged a point per game (19 points in 19 games) since joining the Steam in early October.

After a tough stretch of games in November the Steam will play less games in the month of December, suiting up just six times including the showcase on December 28 & 29. They’ll play their only two home games of the month on back to back nights this coming weekend, with the Chase Heat coming to town Friday, and the North Okanagan Knights visiting for the first time this season on Saturday. Friday night is Summerland’s annual ‘Fill the Net’ Food Drive, presented by the Steam, Summerland Minor Hockey and Summerland IGA. Bring non-perishable food items to the game and receive $2 off any regular priced ticket.

The Steam and the Heat have locked up twice already this year and have split the two contests, both held in Chase. Summerland won the first by a 1-0 score, while the Heat were victorious in the second meeting by an 8-3 score. The Heat got off to a slow start in this 2018/19 KIJHL season, but have been starting to get it together lately. Three of their five total wins have come in their past ten games, and they compete hard every night for Head Coach Brad Fox.

The Heat are led offensively by 17-year old Gavin Mattey and 18-year old Breckin Erichuk. Mattey, a hometown boy from Chase, has 13 goals and 20 points in 20 games. All but one of those points have come since October 13th. Erichuk, meanwhile, seems to have found a home with the Heat after starting the season bouncing between Revelstoke and Osoyoos. The 18-year old from Kamloops played two games with the Grizzlies before being traded to the Coyotes, where he played just one contest (against Summerland) before moving on to join the Chase Heat. Since his arrival he’s amassed six goals and 17 points in just 13 games, and seems to be carrying a lot of the offensive weight for the Heat as they try to claw back into the playoff race in the Doug Birks Division.

The Knights, meanwhile, will come to Summerland in a similar situation to the Heat. They got off to a bit of a slow start, but have begun to come on lately after making some changes and getting more competitive. They currently sit 5th in the Okanagan Division and 9th in the 10 team Okanagan Shuswap Conference, and make their first visit of the season to the Summerland Arena on Saturday night.  Summerland has visited North Okanagan twice and has been victorious once, while losing the other contest in overtime.

The Knights are led by second year forwards Jett Saharchuk and Alec McLeod, as well as second year defenseman Cole Haberlack. Saharchuk leads the team in scoring with 31 points, including six goals and 10 points in his last four games. McLeod, meanwhile, will be returning from a suspension on Saturday night after sitting out two games for a Checking From Behind major levied against him on November 24th. The 19-year old McLeod has 14 goals and 30 points this season, setting new career highs in all offensive categories for the Knights.

Likewise, Cole Haberlack is following up a 14 point season in 2017/18 by being near the top of the list of points by defenceman through half the 2018/19 season. He currently sits 2nd in the conference (behind Dylan Kent of the Kelowna Chiefs) and third in the entire league (Evan Gorman – Grand Forks) with eight goals and 24 points in 25 games played. He plays big minutes for the Knights, and surely will be counted upon to contain Summerland’s top line on Saturday night.

Joel and I will be on-air both nights at 7:15 this weekend for pre-game ahead of 7:30pm puck drops. Join us on playfullscreen.com to catch all the action!