SWEEP NETS STEAM PLAYOFF BIRTH

Photo: Tami Quan Photography

 

January 28, 2019

Summerland, BC – Although pretty much a foregone conclusion, for the Summerland Steam it’s nice to know they’re playoff bound. They ensured that this weekend with a strong effort in a victory over the Osoyoos Coyotes and a hard fought 2-1 win over the Princeton Posse. Both teams are looking to secure themselves a playoff birth as well, and came to the Summerland Arena looking to gain ground in the standings.

On Friday night the Coyotes were in Summerland for what turned out to be a spirited affair that Summerland would win 5-1. Lane French scored a pair of goals while Mitch Gove, Cory Loring, and Liam McLaren added singles.

The Coyotes got off to a strong start, with Brock Marple beating  Steam starter Eric Scherger with the first shot of the game just 1:10 into the contest.

Marple’s 18th of the season was the only time the Coyotes would beat Scherger, according to the officiating crew anyway, as he would make 39 stops on 40 shots to earn another critical victory for the Steam. The Coyotes looked to have made it 2-0 just a few minutes after the Marple goal, as Bryson Garska found himself on a breakaway and looked to beat Scherger high to the glove side. From the vantage point in the press box it was clear, but the referee on the other side of the ice, as well as his linesmen failed to see it that way, waving off what would have been a potential backbreaker for the Summerland Steam.

Instead, the score remained 1-0 and right off the face-off the hockey gods struck. Mitch Gove found himself racing down the right wing side and beat Coyotes’ goaltender Daniel Paul for his 18th of the season with a bullet over the glove.

Lane French would add his 13th of the season with a rocket of his own just a few minutes later, and all of a sudden instead of being down 2-0 Summerland found themselves up 2-1.

From there they did well to keep their foot on the gas pedal, and continued to create themselves some chances. Unfortunately, one such chance cost both teams their best player for the remainder of the game and the next few as well.

With Linden Gove already in the penalty box for “Goaltender Interference” (see video below)

Cody Swan and Zack Cooper found themselves with a 2-on-1 opportunity in front of Daniel Paul. Swan moved the puck cross-crease, and Paul made a good save on what looked like a sure goal for Zack Cooper. In the process, Paul and Cooper got tied up, which triggered a melee at the Coyotes goal. From our angle in the press box, as you can see, we don’t see much. Having said that, we definitely don’t see goaltender interference going to Cody Swan, who’s location is behind the net when the whistle is blown.

Out of this ordeal Paul was assessed a Match Penalty, barred from the remainder of that game plus three more, and Swan was assessed a goaltender interference penalty. Being the second one of the night, Swan was tossed from the game as well and suspended for the next night’s contest against Princeton.

The Coyotes looked to have tied the game at two at one point, but a goal from Brandon Della Paolera was waved off due to goaltender interference with a single second on the clock in the first period. The Coyotes felt they were robbed, although of the two disallowed goals in the game for them this one surely was the correct call.

Things seemed to settle, at least for a while during the second period as Summerland began to extend their lead. Lane French extended the lead to 3-1 for the Steam with his 14th of the season before Cory Loring added his 12th on a Summerland power play to open the lead to three.

The majority of the controversy took place in the first period, with minor infractions taking place throughout the second and early in the third. This one, in fact, is quite funny:

Being that it didn’t cost anybody anything, Ty Banser receiving a slashing penalty for a Coyotes’ player tripping over a discarded stick pretty much sums up the night. There was no more interesting moment, however, than an altercation at the benches between Lane French, Bryson Rody, Mitch Gove and Blake Astorino, among others, with 6:35 to play in the third period. French received nothing after he made a hit on Rody. Rody didn’t like it (watching it back, I wouldn’t have liked it much either) and came back at French only to be checked by Gove as the whistle went. This prompted Blake Astorino to leave the bench to get involved in an altercation, something that Steam captain Everett Scherger is currently serving an 11 game suspension for (in part) doing in Revelstoke on January 12th. It’s clear here:

 

While written up on the game sheet and announced in the building as a Gross Misconduct the league has since overturned that call, assessing Astorino simply a ‘game misconduct in the last 10 minutes’, forcing him to miss just one game on Saturday night against Kelowna.

Whether appealed or not, the league ruled that the referee came down too harshly on Astorino, something that wasn’t considered during the Summerland/Revelstoke situation from January 12th that saw a combination of nine players suspended 34 games.

To go along with Astorino’s Gross Misconduct-turned-game misconduct’, out of the incident Rody was given a (bogus, IMO) match penalty for charging and suspended three games, Gove received 2 minutes for cross-checking and a 10-minute misconduct, and French received nothing.

It is what it is and surely nothing can become of it now, but it’d be interesting to know the position taken by league disciplinarians to have such different suspensions for two incidents that were considered largely the same. We’ll likely never know.

After the dust settled on the skirmish, Liam McLaren would add one more goal with just over two minutes on the clock, sealing a 5-1 victory for the Summerland Steam with a power play goal.

This game was somethin’. Fans were fired up, the teams obviously had the hate on for each other, and they were playing with all the passion and grit you expect from the Summerland/Osoyoos rivalry. Dare I say, if the cages would be sent into the sun where they belong we probably would have seen a couple of fights and a lot less of the ‘why I oughta’ that results in these Match, Gross, and mounting unnecessary misconduct penalties.

Despite all that, the game had flow, it was entertaining throughout and if you ask the players and coaching staff it was a type of game they love to play in. There was fire, passion, and just a little bit of sandpaper that makes for fun, entertaining hockey.

Looking at the boxscore alone one would think the goon squad showed up for a fight and a hockey game broke out. That wasn’t the case at all. It was fun, fast, and resulted in a 5-1 Summerland win.

The Steam would move onto the next night, looking to claim their place in the KIJHL Playoffs against the Princeton Posse. The Posse were coming in off a big 5-2 victory over the North Okanagan Knights on Friday night and were hoping to do the same in Summerland to help their playoff chances. Osoyoos, Princeton and the North Okanagan Knights are all in a battle for the final two playoff spots and the right to play Kelowna and Summerland in round 1 of the KIJHL playoffs.

Cory Loring would score a pair of goals, his 13th and 14th of the season, while Jared Breitkreuz stopped 29 shots for the Steam in a 2-1 victory. Breitkreuz’s shutout bid was snapped by Posse defender Noah Brusse with just :33 on the clock.

The Steam and the Posse went back and forth all night, with Summerland scoring a goal in each of the first two periods. Breitkreuz was the backbone, making several key saves in the final ten minutes of the third period. They would make it to the final buzzer up 2-1 on the scoreboard, and clinched themselves a spot in the playoffs.

For the Steam it’s the sixth trip to the postseason in the franchise’s seven year history. They missed the playoffs in their inaugural season and have made six straight trips into March since then, finishing in the division’s top two four times. They could make that a fifth 2nd or better finish with the combination of one more point or one more Coyotes loss.

The Coyotes hosted the Kelowna Chiefs on Saturday night and were handled 10-2 on home ice. They remain in a fight with the North Okanagan Knights and the Princeton Posse for those final two spots, with the division looking like this as of today:

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The pair of wins for the Steam conclude a month that saw middling results, with the team going 4-3-1-0 in eight January games. They won games they needed to, picking up big wins over Kelowna and Revelstoke, but they also gave a couple away. A pair of losses to the ever-improving Kamloops Storm as well as a loss to the 5th place (but also improving) North Okanagan Knights were the blemishes on the record for the Steam, who battled through injury and suspension all month long. Several members of the Steam took care of business for the shorthanded squad this month, and will likely be in consideration for the KIJHL’s Okanagan Shuswap Conference Player of the Month:

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The cavalry will return this coming weekend as the Steam will get Cody Swan, Cairo Rogers and Bevis Chou back from their suspensions. They’ll hit the road to take on the Princeton Posse on Saturday night in their only game of the weekend. It’s a 7pm start on playfullscreen.com from the Princeton & District Arena.

STEAM LOOK TO CLAIM PLAYOFF SPOT IN WEEKEND DIVISIONAL SET

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Photo: Tami Quan Photography

January 24, 2019

Summerland, BC – With just ten games remaining on the regular season schedule for the Summerland Steam, all thoughts surround a strong finish and putting the finishing touches on preparations for the grueling playoff stretch on the horizon.

At 20-15-2-2 through 39 regular season games, the Steam sit firmly in second place in the Okanagan Division and can clinch their spot with any combination of wins and other team’s losing this weekend. The Kelowna Chiefs have clinched the division title for the first time since 2012/13 and just the second time in the franchise’s nine year history. Chiefs Head Coach Ken Law, meanwhile, has captured his fifth straight division title and is in search of his fourth top 2 finish in the league standings in the past five seasons. Law’s previous finishes of course came with his former team, the Osoyoos Coyotes, who the Steam take on Friday night at the Summerland Arena.

With a 14-21-2-1 the Coyotes occupy spot number three in the Okanagan Division standings with eleven games to play. They’re in a heated race with the North Okanagan Knights and the Princeton Posse for the final two playoff spots, and have a new face behind the bench once again.

Mark Chase, who was named the Head Coach and General Manager in the off-season as the replacement for the aforementioned Ken Law, was relieved of his duties on January 14th, one day after a 5-1 loss to the Knights in Oliver. Assistant Coach Dean Maynard was tapped with the ‘interim Head Coach’ tag at that time and he won his first game at the helm, 2-1 over the Kamloops Storm last Saturday night.

The 2018/19 Coyotes are the most inexperienced team in the KIJHL, having just four returning players from last year’s team including arguably their MVP this season, 20-year old goaltender Daniel Paul. They’re laden with 2000 and 2001 born players and have endured a steep learning curve throughout the regular season thus far. They’ve been solid at times, they’ve played poorly at times and have struggled to find consistency in their game. All of this is to be expected from a team as young as the Coyotes are, and they find themselves in a three-way dog fight for the final two playoff spots in the Okanagan Division with North Okanagan and Princeton.

One will play Kelowna, one will play Summerland and one won’t play at all beyond February 23rd, and the deciding of who’s who continues this weekend.

Osoyoos comes to Summerland Friday, and hosts Kelowna on Saturday. Princeton, meanwhile, visits North Okanagan on Friday night before coming to Summerland on Saturday. The Knights visit Kamloops on Saturday night.

This weekend will go a long way in deciding who’s got the upper hand on the third and fourth playoff spots.

Princeton comes in as a bit of an enigma as of late. They had a great weekend last weekend, blasting the Knights by a 9-1 score Friday night before taking the Kelowna Chiefs to overtime on Saturday, only to fall victim to the Brody Dale show. They then made a return trip to Kelowna on Tuesday night and were walloped by an 11-2 score. In that game Chiefs forward Ryan Stack set a new KIJHL league record with six goals in the game, the most any player has ever scored in a single KIJHL regular season game.

They’re 2-7-0-1 in their past ten games and looking for a spark after trading their top two offensive threats in Austin O’Neil (to North Okanagan) and Lane French (to Summerland) in late November and early December. O’Neil was averaging nearly a point per game (7g, 16 pts in 18 games) at the time of the trade, although only played a pair of games with the Knights before landing on their reserve roster. French was second on the team in scoring at the time of his trade, having netted 10 goals and 18 points in 26 games as the Posse’s captain to start 2018/19.

The Posse play a hard working, blue collar type game that requires teams to be on their toes at all times and never take a shift off. They’ve taken the Kelowna Chiefs, the league’s best team by a wide margin, to overtime twice (beating them once), while also beating playoff bound teams like Summerland, Fernie, and Columbia Valley to name a few.

“We’ll have to be on our toes, for sure,” Said Head Coach John DePourcq when asked about this weekend’s set, “Both of these teams are looking for playoff spots, they’ve got lots to play for, and I want our guys to understand that we do too. We have to focus on ourselves and execute our systems and our game plan, no matter who’s on the other bench, and I think that’s maybe gotten away from us a little bit lately.”

The Steam, of course, have all but clinched their spot in the KIJHL’s postseason, but DePourcq says that doesn’t matter.

“We’ve proven that we have no problem getting up for games against the Kelowna’s and the Revelstoke’s and the Kimberley’s,” Says Summerland’s Head Coach, “There’s absolutely no reason we aren’t doing the same for everybody else, and it’s something we have to work on as a group.”

One thing to watch out for, particularly on Friday night, will be the discipline of both teams. It’s no secret that it’s been a bit of a concern this season from a Summerland standpoint, as they lead the league in total penalty minutes by a fair number. The second team on that list, however, is the Coyotes who visit Friday. They trail the total penalty minute race by 30+. They have, however, been shorthanded six more times than the Steam this season, 250 to 246.

For the Steam they’ll go with 11 forwards on Friday night. The absence of Cairo Rogers and Everett Scherger leaves them a tad shorthanded up front, while the absence of Bevis Chou on the back end will draw affiliate player Josh Bourchier into the lineup for the second time in three contests.

Puck drop for both games at the Summerland Arena this weekend are 7:30pm, and can be found on playfullscreen.com with myself and Joel Barg. The Coastal Eye Clinic Pre-Game Show begins each night at 7:15, and we’ll try and have coaches comments from both sides prior to puck drop as well.

 

 

STEAM COME UP SHORT IN WEEKEND SET

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Photo: Chris Swan – January 18, 2019

January 21, 2019

Summerland, BC – For the first time this season, the Summerland Steam came away from a set of weekend games with no points. After two big wins last weekend and the resulting suspensions that followed Saturday night’s 4-3 win in Revelstoke, one would have assumed a shorthanded Steam squad would be in tough against a couple of upstart opponents.

Although the Kamloops Storm and the North Okanagan Knights sat fourth in their respective divisions heading into the weekend, both teams have seen marked improvement in their play. They’ve done some tinkering both in their player personnel and in North Okanagan’s case their coaching staff as well, and both teams are looking to climb the standings.

Summerland climbed on the bus on Friday and headed for Kamloops Memorial Arena, where they found themselves a little snake-bitten in a 3-2 defeat.

“Swanny’s line (Cody Swan, Mitch Gove, Lane French) could have had five goals,” Said Assistant Coach Tim Mills pre-game on Saturday, “Just one of those nights”

Eric Scherger was again tapped to start for the third straight game after a quality weekend against Kelowna and Revelstoke last weekend. He was solid once again, although this time taking defeat while making 33 saves.

Brett Mero opened the scoring for the Storm on the power play with his eighth goal of the season with just over 7:00 to play in the first period. It would stand as the only goal of the frame before the Storm would add a shorthanded goal early in the second. Theran Kincross would be the beneficiary of a good skill play from Chris Thon as he crossed up a Summerland defender before sliding the puck through to Kincross. The latter made no mistake, moving to the backhand and sliding the puck through the five-hole to extend the Storm lead to 2-0.

Ryan Allen would cut the deficit to just one with his third of the season just over a minute later. Camped out in front of the goal on the Summerland power play, Allen was able to slide a rebound past Storm goaltender Ethan Paulin-Hatch to cut the score to 2-1 in Kamloops’ favour.

Lane French would then score his first as a member of the Summerland Steam and 11th of the season with 9:21 to play in the second period to tie the game at two. French set up on the right wing half wall and cashed in on another Summerland power play, firing a laser of a shot to the blocker side of Paulin-Hatch.

The winning salvo would come shortly after the Steam tied the game at two, courtesy a goal from Kamloops’ James Lalikeas with 5:00 to play. Lalikeas’ 12th of the season would stand as the winner, despite Summerland’s best efforts.

The Steam would send 16 third period shots the way of Ethan Paulin-Hatch, but were unable to beat him to tie the game at three. They would come home suffering a 3-2 defeat, and regroup to take on the North Okanagan Knights on Saturday night.

“It obviously wasn’t our best effort of the season,” Said Assistant Coach Carter Rigby in his pre-game coaches comments on Saturday, “It’s tough when you’re down to three lines there and you get into some penalty trouble a little bit. We’ve got some young guys playing more than they’re used to and you don’t have the benefit of last change on the road so you can’t play the match-up game maybe as well as you’d like to. I expected them to be a little tired with guys out of the lineup and guys having to step up and play in roles maybe they’re not used to, but that’s how you build a team up and that’s how you learn.”

When asked about the Knights, Rigby had this to say:

“I’m sure they’ll be ready to go, obviously. They’ve got Dean McAmmond behind the bench now and I’m sure he gave them a bit of an earful after that loss last night (9-1 in Princeton). I’m sure they’re adjusting to a new coach and a new system, obviously, and I’m sure they’ll be ready to go.”

The Knights, under new Head Coach Dean McAmmond, were 5-1 winners last Sunday in Oliver against the Osoyoos Coyotes, but took a 9-1 defeat this past Friday night in Princeton.

The Knights recently signed former Posse goaltender Bobby Milligan after the departure of goaltender Austin Madge, and he received starting duties Saturday night in Summerland. He was as good as he had to be, as Summerland threw shots at him from the outside and the Knights really limited the Steam’s dangerous scoring opportunities on route to a 3-2 victory.

Jett Saharchuk opened the scoring for the Knights with his 24th of the season just 3:53 into the hockey game. Saharchuk was the benefactor of a turnover by a Summerland defender at the Steam blue line, and found himself all alone staring down Steam goaltender Jared Breitkreuz. Saharchuk made no mistake, giving the Knights a lead early on.

Just shy of four minutes later, Dylan Huber would net his first of the season to double the lead for North Okanagan. A shot that tipped off a Summerland defender fell straight to Huber at the side of the net and he slipped it into the open cage to double the Knights lead.

Mitch Gove would cut the lead to one with 6:27 to play in the first period, using his speed to beat everyone. Gove picked up the puck in the neutral zone and made the wide turn up the left wing. He then crossed the North Okanagan blue line and went ALL the way out to the right wing side before ripping a bullet of a shot over the blocker side shoulder of Milligan for his 17th of the season.

With the score 2-1, action would go back and forth without a change until the 9:55 mark of the third period. The Knights, while on the power play, were able to make it a 3-1 game courtesy Kevin-Thomas Walters. Jett Saharchuk moved the puck across to Alec McLeod at the right point, McLeod blistered a shot well wide of Jared Breitkreuz in the Steam net, however the puck found it’s way out the other side right on to the stick of Walters who scored his 12th of the season to allow the Knights to regain their two goal lead.

Summerland would press, and were able to get back to within one with just :40 to play. While on the power play, an errant shot from Mitch Gove was found and collected in the right wing corner by Cody Swan. Swan then moved up the wall and found Lane French, who walked to the middle of the ice and unleashed a wicked wrister that beat Bobby Milligan low to the blocker side to make the score 3-2.

Despite one final push, that’s where it would stay as the Knights would leave victorious by a 3-2 score. Jared Breitkreuz deserved a better fate, no doubt, as he stopped 31 of 34 North Okanagan shots despite taking the loss.

The win for North Okanagan, combined with an overtime loss to the Kelowna Chiefs for the Princeton Posse pulled the Knights into the fourth and final playoff spot. By a single point, the Knights now hold the fourth spot in the Okanagan Division, and have a game in hand on the Posse. For what it’s worth the Osoyoos Coyotes find themselves just three points up on those two teams with 31 points, and it’s looking like a three team race for the final two playoff spots in the Okanagan Divison.

Summerland holds second place and that’s likely where they’ll finish, sitting 13 points clear of the third place Coyotes and trailing the Kelowna Chiefs by a now insurmountable 25 points. The Chiefs have clinched the division, and are in a battle with the Revelstoke Grizzlies for the Okanagan Shuswap Conference title as well.

For Summerland they’ll just focus on the basics. They have two more games before they get Cairo Rogers and Bevis Chou back in their lineup, which will both take place at home next weekend. They’ll get busy creating chemistry at practice this week in preparation to take on a pair of divisional rivals in key games that will have a direct impact on playoff standings. The Steam will take on the Osoyoos Coyotes on Friday and the Princeton Posse on Saturday, with both hungry to solidify their playoff position as we ride the roller coaster down to a February 23rd regular season finish.

Summerland could clinch a playoff spot with a pair of victories this coming weekend, and will likely finish second in the division for the fourth time in six years. With their playoff spot all but clinched and their standing nearly confirmed, they can focus on playing well structured hockey and get themselves ready for the gauntlet that is the KIJHL playoffs. This will mean limiting their mistakes, making the simple plays that make the difference, and finding ways to get pucks and bodies to the net on a more regular basis. All things they struggled a little bit with in their pair of most recent losses.

Conditioning will surely be something they work on headed down the stretch, as well. For those not familiar, once the playoffs begin, teams participating in the first round are required to complete a seven game series in just nine days. It’s a grind that isn’t matched by any other league in Western Canada, and something all teams try to be ready for. Most teams who play their 49 game regular season schedule do so playing AT MOST five games in any given nine day period, so it’s a bit of a shock to the system when the playoffs roll around.

Both of this weekend’s games could be potential playoff previews with Osoyoos, Princeton and North Okanagan all battling for those three and four spots in the standings. That fact should make for good, desperate hockey this weekend at the Summerland Arena, with both games having 7:30pm start times. Webcasts are available on playfullscreen.com with Tim Hogg and Joel Barg starting with the Coastal Eye Clinic pre-game show at 7:15pm.

SCHERGER BACKSTOPS STEAM TO BIGGEST WEEKEND SWEEP

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Photo: Dunsmoor Creative | Steve Dunsmoor, Kelowna, BC

January 15, 2018

Summerland, BC – Heading into this weekend’s games if you tapped one as a rivalry and one that could have potentially brewed some bad blood, you surely would have circled Friday night’s game against the Kelowna Chiefs. With the Chiefs on tap Friday and the Doug Birks Division leading Revelstoke Grizzlies up next on Saturday, Summerland surely would have been happy to find a pair of points in what is likely the toughest back-to-back set anyone will see this season. Summerland saw their closest geographical rival on Friday, and possibly their furthest geographical rival on Saturday, and didn’t disappoint in their performance on either night, picking up a pair of 4-3 victories.

The last time the Steam went into Rutland they put the boots to the then undefeated-in-regulation Kelowna Chiefs to the tune of a 7-2 victory, and they were looking to do it again on Friday night.

Eric Scherger received the tap from Head Coach John Depourcq to face the best offense in the league, albeit missing a couple of big guns. The Chiefs were without Brody Dale and Devin Sutton on Friday night, as well as goal scoring machine Ryan Stack.

Summerland got off to a fast start, using the same recipe they used in that 7-2 victory on December 1st to get a jump on the Chiefs. They put pucks behind the Chiefs’ defenders, and were able to beat them on the forecheck to create their opportunities.

They cashed in on one of those opportunities at 13:19 of the first period when Mitch Gove was able to convert a 2-on-1 for his 13th of the season. Gove started the play by receiving a turnover at the Summerland blue line. He moved the puck to the left wing to Lane French who beat his guy wide, and fed a streaking Gove who beat Braeden Mitchell in the Kelowna net to give the Steam a 1-0 lead.

Cory Loring would then add to the Summerland lead with 5:23 remaining in the first period, beating Mitchell up high through a screen. The power play goal, Loring’s 12th of the season, would give Summerland a 2-0 lead at the first intermission.

They’d add to it in the second period, as Gove was at it again with his blazing speed. He was able to force a turnover at the Summerland blue line once again, this time short handed, and was off to the races. With his speed, he’s not often caught, and he was able to beat Mitchell high over the glove to extend Summerland’s lead to three.

Myles Mattilla would cut the deficit to two before the end of the period, scoring on a sharp angle shot with 3:29 to play in the second. Mattilla’s 12th of the year came unassisted as he won a puck battle in the corner and swung a puck on goal, surprising Eric Scherger to make it a 3-1 game.

The Steam would batten down the hatches defensively in the third period, and were rewarded with another goal as Cody Swan scored his 17th of the season with 8:14 to play. The goal would prove huge, as it would eventually stand as the game winner despite giving Summerland a 4-1 lead at the time. Kelowna would add a pair of power play goals in the late going, with Kaden Stewart and and Tyler Love tallying with 6:43 and 5:25 to play, respectively. Stewart’s 6th of the season came on a pass from Love, who put the puck out front of Eric Scherger for Stewart to bang home. Love’s 9th of the year came just over a minute later and made things interesting, cutting the Steam lead to just a goal.

Summerland was able to stem the tide, however, and picked up their second victory in a row at Rutland Arena. They remain the only team to beat the Kelowna Chiefs in regulation, as well as the only team to take points away from Rutland Arena this season. One thing this game wasn’t though was rough. Both teams played fast, physical, clean hockey that resulted in an exciting night for fans at Rutland Arena that lacked nothing except stupidity.

Eric Scherger was sensational for the Steam, backstopping them to their second consecutive road win over the Chiefs with 36 saves. The biggest of those saves came in the second period when he made three consecutive breakaway saves in a span of about five minutes, all while Summerland was on the power play. Scherger was able to shut the door and keep the momentum moving in favour of the Steam, and they were able to pick up a victory likely because of those three saves.

Cody Swan netted a goal and a pair of assists, while Mitch Gove had a pair of each, with two goals and two helpers on the night. Lane French also chimed in with a pair of assists.

All the rough and tumble stupidity that we periodically see in a game between Summerland and Kelowna was saved for Saturday night in Revelstoke. The Steam took on the Revelstoke Grizzlies at the always lively Revelstoke Forum, looking to avenge a 5-3 home ice loss that got a little nasty late in November.

The Steam and the Grizzlies have built a bit of a nasty rivalry over the past couple of seasons, despite not being divisional rivals. Looking back on past boxscores, you’ll find entries mired with what are considered ‘predatory’ penalties like charging, elbowing, head contact, boarding and the like, as well as many, many fighting majors. One particular instance saw this photo shared by a Revelstoke news publication on a night where the two teams had a line brawl on route to a Summerland victory at the forum:

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For the record former Steam defenseman Konsta Jaske, pictured here, points at the scoreboard after an instance that saw he, Andrew York, Riley Pettitt, and a plethora of others involved in one of the nastiest brawls I’ve personally ever witnessed.

Since this date, October 15, 2016, the rivalry has been a big one despite only seeing each other two to three times a year. Saturday night at The Forum wasn’t much different than this, although it was a great hockey game until the bitter end.

The Grizzlies, the Doug Birks Division’s best team and the second place team in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference, came in looking for their second consecutive victory over the Steam after the aforementioned 5-3 victory in Summerland on November 24th, 2018. The Steam, meanwhile, were coming off that huge victory in Kelowna and looking to turn one win into two for an unlikely weekend sweep.

Eric Scherger would get a second consecutive start in the Summerland goal, earning it via his sensational 36 save performance in Kelowna the night before. Summerland got off to a good start once again, although it was the Grizzlies that opened the scoring courtesy of Ryan Bedard.  Bedard’s sixth of the season came with 8:20 remaining in period number one, after the teams traded chances in the first 11 minutes of play.

The score would stay 1-0 until the middle of the second period when Mitch Gove would hammer home his 15th of the season to tie the game at 1 on the power play. Gove found some open space and was the recipient of a good hard-work play from captain Everett Scherger, who dove to poke a loose puck his direction, and the younger Gove made no mistake.

He would connect again just 1:45 later, again on the power play from the exact same spot. The exact same play resulted in Cody Swan moving the puck to the point, and this time it was Cory Loring who would send the pass to Gove who hammered it past Grizzlies’ keeper Liam McGarva to give Summerland a lead.

The lead would disappear early in the third period as Grizzlies defender Matt Cadden would tie the game at two just 1:24 into the third period. Carter Anderson and Tommy Bodtker drew assists on the 17-year old Cadden’s 10th of the season, and the two teams found themselves back to square one in a physical, emotional hockey game.

Penalties were the theme of the night, although most were innocent enough. Summerland’s only even strength goal of the night came courtesy of Ty Banser, who scored his 5th of the season with 11:34 to play to give the Steam their lead back. Banser did good work to use both his body and his determination to find a loose puck in front of the Revelstoke crease, and was able to bat a puck past McGarva to give the Steam the lead. The assists went to Zack Cooper and Cory Loring, who both did excellent work below the goal line to free the puck up and get it to the front of the net for Banser to go get, and he made no mistake.

As the clock wound down, Summerland was able to employ the same mentality as they did the night previous in Kelowna. They took care of their own zone, made simple plays to clear pucks and force the Grizzlies to the outside. It looked like they were in complete control as time ticked off, and the Grizzlies found themselves scrambling enough to take a penalty in the late going. The Steam would capitalize on that man-advantage as captain Everett Scherger would locate a rebound at the side of the Grizzlies’ net and pound home his 11th of the season to extend the Steam lead to 4-2.

The goal from Scherger would stand as the winner, as a couple of late power plays afforded the Grizzlies an opportunity to cut the lead to just a goal thanks to Jaden Hay. The former North Okanagan Knight blasted home his 12th of the season (8th with the Grizzlies) from the left point to cut the lead to 4-3. Grizzlies leading scorer Kaeden Patrick would draw one assist with Ryan Pereverzoff tallying the other with just 22.6 seconds left on the clock.

That’s when the fun started.

Revelstoke would get one more opportunity in the offensive zone, still on the power play, and they appeared to make good on their chance. A goal negated by an obvious (stick above head type obvious) high stick brought a face-off outside the Summerland zone with 10.6 seconds remaining.

That’s when the fun REALLY started.

On the ensuing face-off won by the Steam, forward Morey Babakaiff picked up a puck and made a dash for the corner to the right of Eric Scherger to kill the clock. At the buzzer, he was pasted to the corner boards by Kaeden Patrick, who was assessed a boarding minor at the final buzzer. While the penalty is no matter, it triggered a melee deep in the Summerland zone that resulted in several suspensions to key players on both sides.

“They have six guys that charge him at 100 miles an hour,” said Head Coach John DePourcq when speaking with our Emanuel Sequeira, “Crush him into the boards. Well here you go, look out, it’s on. Everybody is swinging and punching. Wrestling.”

While details are scant on the happenings in the corner and what caused such heavy penalties, the resulting suspensions from the skirmish shook out as follows:

capture - suspensions

 

Yes. You read that right. A combined 34 games worth of suspensions. Scherger was hit especially hard as he was released from the penalty box when the buzzer sounded, and headed into the corner to help his outnumbered teammates instead of skating across to the bench.

Revelstoke will miss their captain, Tommy Bodtker, leading goal scorer Ryan Pereverzoff, points leader Kaeden Patrick, one of their top defensemen in Matt Cadden, and forward Jon Vandermolen for their January 15th bout against the Chase Heat. Bodtker, Pereverzoff, and Cadden will also miss a pair of games against the divisional rival 100 Mile House Wranglers and a bout with the Sicamous Eagles as part of their suspensions.

Summerland on the other hand will be without Everett Scherger for an extended period of time, with him eligible to return for the final regular season game on February 23rd in Osoyoos, barring any appeals. They’ll also miss Cairo Rogers, Bevis Chou, and Morey Babakaiff for their Friday night matchup with the Kamloops Storm this week, before getting only Babakaiff back for a Saturday night tilt with the North Okanagan Knights.

Rogers and Chou, along with Scherger of course, will miss the following games against the Osoyoos Coyotes and Princeton Posse as part of their suspensions as well.

What was lost because of the blow up at the buzzer was a 4-3 Summerland victory in a game that was FANTASTIC to watch. The Revelstoke Forum was packed with 650+ people who were loud, boisterous and into every minute of the action from start to finish. Two teams who sit near the top of the league standings that don’t like each other went toe-to-toe in what Depourcq called an “old time hockey game”, and left fans waiting for the rematch. That rematch takes place on February 9th once again at the Forum in Revelstoke, and if you can make it to the Forum that night, it’s highly recommended.

Eric Scherger was masterful in the Summerland crease for a second straight night, stopping 50 of 53 shots the Grizzlies sent his way. In total, he finished the weekend good on 86 of 92 shots faced, for a .935% save percentage against the conference’s two best teams in Kelowna and Revelstoke. Scherger wasn’t the only one who came to play, however. Mitch Gove tallied 4 goals and six points in the two contests, while Cody Swan drove offense adding a goal and five assists.

As a whole, it was likely the best weekend of the season for the Steam. Start to finish they stuck to their game plan, minimized their mistakes against the best of their competition, and made the simple plays they need to make to give themselves a chance to win. Their defense held strong, their goaltender was their crutch, and their power play continued to pour in goals.

They scored four times on 16 opportunities over the two games this weekend, and have almost quietly scored the 4th most power play goals in the league with 43 in 37 games. Although they won’t likely average eight opportunities every game, they’re the type of team that has the ability to frustrate teams into taking penalties provided they don’t retaliate. This weekend they did a good job of limiting their retaliations, and it showed.

The line of Cody Swan, Lane French and Mitch Gove drove the offense for the Steam, and Head Coach John Depourcq liked what he saw.

“The line of Mitchell Gove, Lane French and Cody Swan were really good,” said DePourcq in an interview with Steam Media Correspondent Emanuel Sequeira, “It was a great team effort. Everybody played hard, played well. When they are all together and they are healthy, they have got to be one of the top lines in the league. They are very fast. French and Mitch Gove, there is a lot of speed there to go with Cody Swan. You add his skill to their speed, they generated a lot of opportunities.”

The big line up front did well to make good on opportunities provided by their goaltender making big saves at the other end in both games. When asked about Scherger, Depourcq of course had nothing but praise.

“A great weekend for everybody, really, but he was just fantastic. An amazing weekend in goal for Eric,” Said Depourcq, “He made the big saves when we needed them and controlled the rebounds.”

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Photo: Dunsmoor Creative | Steve Dunsmoor, Kelowna BC

The Steam go back to work at practice this week and some affiliate players will likely get a work out, as they’ll have four guys guaranteed to be out of the lineup come Friday when they travel to take on the Kamloops Storm. The team will return home Saturday night for date with the North Okanagan Knights, who have pushed past the Princeton Posse for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Okanagan Division.

Puck drop for that contest will be 7:30pm from the Summerland Arena.

LOSS, TIE MARK LEARNING WEEKEND FOR YOUNG STEAM

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File Photo: Cody Swan | Victoria Rich Photography

Often times, the first games in the month of January league wide in the KIJHL can surprise you. Teams are just getting back together, getting back into the swing of things and re-establishing routine, and sometimes it can make for a little bit of sloppy hockey. That was exactly what we got this past weekend at the Summerland Arena, as the Summerland Steam came away with a loss and a tie out of a pair of games against Doug Birks Division opponents.

On Friday night, their first game after the KIJHL Showcase, the Steam faced off against the Kamloops Storm. They arrived with purpose, and were very good in the first five minutes despite not being able to beat Storm goalie Ethan Paulin-Hatch. They had several good looks, including a post hit by Ty Banser that couldn’t quite find the back of the net, but it was Kamloops that would take the edge in the first period. The visitors outshot the Steam 14-9 after Summerland couldn’t get the early goal, but the first period would show no score as Summerland’s Eric Scherger would shut the door.

Scherger was Summerland’s best player on Friday night against Kamloops, and did everything he could possibly do to keep a floundering Steam squad in a tightly contested game. The Steam would in fact take a 1-0 lead on Zack Cooper’s 7th of the season early in the second period. Cody Swan collected his first of two assists on the night as he was able to dance down the left side after forcing a turnover and feed a streaking Cooper at the back post for the tap in. Justin Swan recorded the second assist that saw the Steam take the lead.

That lead would disappear in the second period after Hayden Hirsch was able to take advantage of a Summerland turnover. Hirsch collected an errant pass at the Summerland blue line and found himself all alone, beating Eric Scherger high to the glove side for his first of the season in just his third game.

Jason Scheible would then give the Storm their first lead of the night early in the third period, on a shot from the point that found the back of the net despite some serious confusion. While in a standing position, the puck appeared to hit Eric Scherger in the chin of his helmet before appearing in the top part of the net behind him. From our vantage point in the broadcast booth, Scheible’s 5th of the season remains a mystery, but it gave the Storm the lead.

While trying to comeback, Summerland showed a little life. They began to work the puck around the  offensive zone, and took advantage of some zone time on a power play to finally solve Ethan Paulin-Hatch for a second time. It was Linden Gove who did the solving, notching his 18th of the season at the tail end of a power play to tie the game at two. Cody Swan would draw another primary assist on the play, while Morey Babakaiff added the second assist. It did not register as a power play goal, although it came with a man-advantage of a Storm player in neutral ice after exiting the penalty box.

It looked like the hockey game was destined for overtime, as both teams traded innocuous scoring chances in the five minutes following Summerland’s tying goal. Unfortunately, the discipline (or lack thereof) of the Summerland Steam once again bit them in the behind. A pair of penalties in the final seven minutes of play allowed the Storm to ramp up the pressure and finally break through with 2:16 on the clock, as a power play goal from Chris Thon broke the tie. Thon’s 11th of the season came as he found a loose puck to the right of Eric Scherger and deposited it into the top of the net. Brandon Mucha would then add an empty net goal to seal the 4-2 victory for Kamloops.

“It’s frustrating,” Said Head Coach John Depourcq in his coaches comments prior to Saturday’s game, “We get off to a good start, I thought the first few minutes we did well enough to score two or three goals and then it just sort of went downhill from there. We were able to get the first goal but we made a lot of mistakes, and we took a lot of bad penalties. We took six and four of them were in the offensive zone and that tells you a little bit of the story. Those are lazy penalties, not the smartest ones to take and it’s frustrating that they cost us in a game that we should have won.”

All in all, Friday night wasn’t a banner night for a Summerland Steam club missing several key bodies including Mitch Gove, Lane French, Kaden Moravek, and Dawson Jenner. To make matters worse, Everett Scherger picked up a hit to the head penalty in Friday night’s game, and a subsequent suspension for the third instance. He missed Saturday night’s game, and will miss a key tilt this coming Friday against the Kelowna Chiefs as part of that suspension.

“Whenever you lose your captain it’s tough,” Said Depoucq ahead of Saturday’s game, “It’s a bit of a tough call in the sense that Everett’s working hard, which is what you ask from all the kids, to be physical and be aggressive. He went to hit the guy and he buckled and hunched over, and it’s called a hit to the head. They’re trying to minimize those, obviously, and it’s a bit of a tough call on him but we lose him for a couple games here.”

The suspension to Scherger, as well as a minor injury to Brett Wilson forced Mitch Gove back into the lineup on Saturday night. Gove has been battling a flu bug as of late, and missed both Showcase games as well as Friday night’s battle with the Storm. With the low number of bodies up front, Gove was asked by Head Coach John Depourcq to give what he could on Saturday night, and he wasted no time making his presence felt.

He opened the scoring for the Steam just :36 seconds into Saturday night’s contest against the Sicamous Eagles, blistering a shot over the glove of Eagles’ goaltender Cole Steinke. Gove’s 12th of the season was assisted by Cory Loring and Cody Swan, the latter extending his point streak to six games with three assists in the contest. It looked from our vantage point as if the goal should have gone unassisted, as a Sicamous defender coughed the puck up in front of the goal where Gove teed it up and made no mistake.

Swan’s been Summerland’s best player lately, recording 12 points (5g, 7a) on his current six game point streak. He’s also recorded points in all but one game since November 9th, amassing 9 goals and 24 points in 14 games in that span.

He was at it again on Saturday night, as he was in on all three Summerland goals.

The Gove goal was the only one of the first period on Saturday night, and Summerland was able to add in the second courtesy of Morey Babakaiff. Babakaiff took a pass from Brody Conroy in neutral ice, moved it to Cody Swan who beat a defender down the right wing side to create a 2-on-1. Babakaiff was the beneficiary of a beautiful backhand pass from Swan, and he made no mistake for his 13th of the season.

Once up 2-0, Summerland seemed to engage the cruise control once again, and allowed the Eagles to score three times in 3:29 as Sebastien Archambeault, Colby Sherlock, and Jacob Chafe all scored to suddenly give the Eagles a 3-2 lead. The one bad five-minute stretch for Summerland put them on the back foot, looking to get the tying goal in the third period to extend the hockey game.

Bevis Chou would chime in with a power play goal for Summerland in the third period, his first KIJHL goal, that tied the game at 3 and would ultimately force overtime thanks to both goaltenders. Both Jared Breitkreuz and Cole Steinke were very solid in the back half of the third period, resulting in both teams getting a point.

In the overtime period the Steam dominated possession and total shots, but it was Breitkreuz who had the more difficult task. He made three consecutive saves at the right post to keep the game tied at three, and ultimately end in a 3-3 tie.

For the Steam it was a weekend for learning. In both games they got off to good starts and got a little lackadaisical, allowing opponents to gain momentum and claw back into both games. Their discipline also played a part, as they were shorthanded six times in each of the two games and allowed a power play goal in both. The concern isn’t so much the amount of times they found themselves shorthanded, but in the manner they ended up there. Offensive and neutral zone penalties, caused by turnovers or slow legs were the theme of the weekend, and something that the coaching staff will surely try to work on this week during practice.

Expecting a few bodies back in the lineup, Summerland is set to prepare for a monster pair of road games against the best the Okanagan Shuswap Conference has to offer. They travel to Kelowna to face the vaunted Chiefs on Friday, and head to Revelstoke to visit the Doug Birks Division leading Grizzlies on Saturday. Expect Mitch Gove and Lane French back in the lineup, as well as Dawson Jenner who returns from his 2-game suspension for Friday night’s contest. Captain Everett Scherger will sit Friday as part of a suspension, but will be available to Head Coach John Depourcq on Saturday night in Revelstoke.

Both games are available via playfullscreen.com starting at 7pm. Summerland will then play a road contest in Kamloops against the Storm on January 18th before returning home for a bout with the North Okanagan Knights at 7:30pm on the 19th.

STEAM PREP FOR HOME WEEKEND AFTER SHOWCASE CONCLUSION

File Photo: Tami Quan Photography 📸

JANUARY 4, 2019

SUMMERLAND, BC

Coming off a two week holiday break, the Summerland Steam were able to ‘tread water’ and gain a split in two early morning games at the inaugural KIJHL Showcase last weekend in Kamloops. While not ideal in the time of year or the game times the Steam drew, the Showcase was put together to allow players to show their talent in front of scouts from both Jr. A and the college ranks, and the Steam did not disappoint.

In the first (and hopefully last) 8:00am game in Steam franchise history, they were listed as the ‘visitors’ against the Grand Forks Border Bruins. In the first meeting with the Border Bruins since the 2015/16 season, it took both teams nearly half a game to wake up and get moving.

Cody Swan opened the scoring with his 16th of the season, unassisted, at 11:02 to give the Steam a 1-0 lead. Brett Wilson would then chime in with his third of the season, which would stand as the game winner, with 1:39 remaining in the second period. Strangely, Wilson’s third of the season came in the same place as his first two, the Kamloops Memorial Arena. Wilson scored a pair of goals in a 12-2 victory in Kamloops against the Storm on October 13th and went 16 games between goals.

The Steam did well to keep their foot on the gas pedal to start the third period, adding a pair of goals to take a 4-0 lead and coast to the finish line. Cory Loring scored a power play goal, his 11th of the season, with 12:24 remaining in the period. Everett Scherger would then add his 9th, unassisted, with 2:35 to play to close out the scoring for the Steam.

Jared Breitkreuz looked poised to collect his third shutout of the year, but a long shot from Border Bruins Captain Evan Gorman (14) would beat him with :40 on the clock. No matter, Breitkreuz was solid in the victory, his 11th of the season, and earned another start the next morning against the Fernie Ghostriders.

Breitkreuz was again solid, but Summerland couldn’t overcome the power play of the Ghostriders. The Riders went 2/5 on the power play, and dumped one into an empty net to take a 4-2 victory on ‘get away day’ for both teams at the Showcase. Everett Scherger (10) tied the game at 1 in the second period after Fernie’s Johnny Elias had given the Riders the lead through a period.

After Scherger’s goal, Ghostrider and former Steam forward Gavin Lawrie made his presence known. Lawrie scored a goal and added an assist in the game, including a goal in the second period to give the Riders a 2-1 lead, and an assist on the game winner early in the third period. That game winner came off the stick of Nicholas Sombrowski, who would also add an empty netter for the Riders to seal the victory. The empty netter came after a highlight reel goal from Morey Babakaiff, his 12th of the season, as he was able to burn a defender wide down the right wing and cut across to an empty net to cut the lead to a goal with 8:00 and change remaining. The Sombrowski empty netter would seal the deal and send the Steam home with a split.

Throughout the showcase, the Steam were without key forwards Mitch Gove (illness) and the newly acquired Lane French (undisclosed) for both games. They were also missing Kaden Moravek for Saturday’s 4-2 loss against Fernie.

With the showcase over and the month of January’s games about to begin, a quick look back shows a successful month for a young, growing Summerland Steam hockey club. They picked up their biggest win of the season to start the month in Rutland by a 7-2 score over the Kelowna Chiefs. Overall they went 4-2 in December, with their two losses coming at the hands of the North Okanagan Knights (December 14) and the Fernie Ghostriders (December 29) both by 4-2 scores that included empty net goals.

Cody Swan and Everett Scherger both led the way offensively and should likely get some consideration for the Okanagan Shuswap Player of the Month Award. Swan recorded six goals and 10 points in six games, while Scherger tallied three goals and nine points in five games throughout the month. Jared Breitkreuz may garner some attention as well, as he went 3-1 with a 2.25 goals against average and a .921 Save Percentage in four starts.

The Steam will start their January schedule with a pair of home games this weekend against Doug Birks Division opponents. The Kamloops Storm arrive for a tilt on Friday night, while the Sicamous Eagles visit on Saturday.

The Storm will surely come into Summerland on Friday night hoping to find some retribution for a 12-2 beating laid on them by the Steam on October 13th at Kamloops Memorial Arena. After that game the Storm rattled off five straight wins, their most lucrative stretch this season, and have a total record of 9-8-0-2 in 19 games since these two teams last met.

The Storm are led up front by a pair of veteran forwards in Therran Kincross, Chris Thon and rookie James Lilikeas. The three have combined for 29 of the Storm’s 79 goals scored this season, counting for 36% of total scoring. They’ve also added some KIJHL experience to their blue line recently, adding Jason Scheible from the North Okanagan Knights, as well as Kamloops native Harrison Rosch. Rosch started the season with Revelstoke before being traded to Osoyoos in a trade that saw four players moved, three of whom didn’t report and the other (Breckin Erichuk, now with Chase) traded after just one game.

Both blue liners are considered puck movers, who play a solid two-way game and create good breakouts with a good first pass. This is one of the most underrated things a player can do to help a young team, and both have provided that so far for the Storm. They currently sit 4th in the Doug Birks Division, and are trying to catch the third place Sicamous Eagles. The 5th place Chase Heat have been steadily improving this season as well, so both the Storm and the Eagles, who come in this weekend as well, will be looking to gain as many points in the standings as possible.

The Eagles are 5-5 in their last ten games, and picked up wins at the KIJHL Showcase over Beaver Valley (4-2) and Fernie (3-1). Their ace is goaltender Cole Steinke, who carries a 2.82 GAA and .916% save percentage into this coming weekend’s games. The last time the two teams met, the Steam were able to get traffic to the front of his net and create some problems.

The visitors from the Shuswap, coached by Rob Fitzpatrick, are led up front by Aaron Plessis. Plessis is currently averaging nearly a point per game with 26 points (10g + 16a) in 29 games, and leads the team in almost all offensive categories. The last time the Steam and the Eagles faced off, the goal of Summerland’s defense was to shut down Plessis and his linemates, and they were able to do so en route to a 4-1 victory. The same will have to happen again if Summerland wants to pick up a pair of points and strengthen their hold on the second position in the Okanagan Division standings.

The Eagles are home to the vaunted Kelowna Chiefs on Friday night, before travelling to Summerland on Saturday. The Kamloops Storm, meanwhile, will travel to Revelstoke to face the Doug Birks Division leading Grizzlies on Saturday night.

Puck drop for both games this weekend will be 7:30pm at the Summerland Arena, and I’m pleased to be back in the broadcast booth alongside Joel Barg to bring all the action to life on playfullscreen.com starting with pre-game at 7:15pm each night.