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:

capture2

 

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:

capture

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.

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