STEAM STUMBLE IN LOSS TO POSSE

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File Photo: Chris Swan

February 4, 2019

Summerland, BC – The Summerland Steam traveled to Princeton this past Saturday night in search of a win, but it wasn’t going to be just any other win. They needed to take care of business to ensure themselves home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, as well as secure the 200th Regular Season victory for Head Coach John DePourcq.

It turns out with the Osoyoos Coyotes falling to the Revelstoke Grizzlies on Friday night the outcome of Summerland’s Saturday contest didn’t matter. The Steam will finish second in the Okanagan Division Standings and have home ice advantage when the KIJHL Playoffs open up on February 26th. That fact, however, didn’t change the way the coaching staff was hoping the Steam would play against a potential first round opponent, the Princeton Posse, on Saturday night.

Princeton came in as the third place team in the Okanagan Division after a 4-2 victory over Kamloops on Friday night, and they did a good job early on in limiting Summerland’s time and space. Those two things are usually at a premium at the Princeton & District Arena at the best of times, but Princeton was able to neutralize Summerland’s speed and keep to the outside in the offensive zone. Both teams looked to gain the upper hand early, firing shots from the perimeter at both Jared Breitkreuz (Summerland) and Jaysen MacLean (Princeton) in goal at each end of the ice.

The only goal of the period came off the stick of Cory Loring, his career high 16th of the season, making a perfect shot to beat MacLean over the glove and under the bar. The goal gave Summerland a 1-0 lead headed to the locker room, something that they maybe felt they ‘got away with’ out of a first period that saw the bus legs shake out slightly as the frame got older.

The Posse were able to tie the score at one apiece early in the second period when Achille Casali scored his 16th of the season. He was able to slash to the front of the net and get a tip on a long point shot from Devin Watson at the left point, beating Breitkreuz to the glove side. Justin Fodchuk would draw the second assist on the goal that put the teams all square.

Sean Wilson would then break the tie late in the second period on a bit of a strange goal that netted him his second of the season. A long shot from Bevis Chou at Summerland’s right point hit Wilson before a Posse defender made a swipe at the puck with a skate. He made contact, but popped the puck up instead of kicking it away, and it fluttered over MacLean and across the line to give Summerland a 2-1 lead. They would again take the one goal lead to the locker room, but see the Posse come out flying early in the third looking to tie the game.

The Steam would stem the tide, bending but not breaking in the first half of the third period. They held the 2-1 lead until Ethan Schmor was able to find some open space and tie the game with 6:54 to play. The Posse did great work to move the puck through the neutral zone and sent Schmor in alone on Breitkreuz. He made no mistake, faking the backhand before going to the forehand to beat the Summerland keeper for his 9th of the season that tied the game at 2.

As the clock wound down the Steam looked to be engaged, having several chances at the Princeton goal. They couldn’t beat Jaysen MacLean, but found themselves on a power play with 3:37 to play. They didn’t capitalize on that either, and in fact took themselves off the power play after just :39 seconds.

At 4-on-4, the Posse found a way to break through. After Summerland failed to clear the zone, defenseman Noah Brusse found himself coming out of the right wing corner with the puck. He swung behind the Summerland goal, placing a puck on the tape of the Posse’s leading goal scorer, Terrance Josephson, alone in the slot. Josephson converted the one-timer for his 14th of the season and gave the Posse their first lead of the hockey game with 1:55 to play.

The Steam would get themselves another power play, but couldn’t convert on that either and took a 3-2 loss. It wasn’t a banner night for them, as they seemed to be hampered by the combination of small ice and a rock solid goaltending performance. Jaysen MacLean made 33 saves for the Posse, while Jared Breitkreuz was no slouch either stopping 28 of 31 Princeton shots in the Summerland goal crease.

 

What’s next? 

The Steam will have to turn around quickly, hosting the province leading Kelowna Chiefs on Tuesday night before hitting the road for a pair of games next weekend in Sicamous and Revelstoke. The Chiefs come in with a 37-2-1-2 record through 42 games, with their only two losses in regulation coming at the hands of the Summerland Steam in Rutland on December 1st and January 11th.

With the division locked up long ago, the Chiefs have eyes on the Conference and League titles, being chased by Revelstoke for the Okanagan Shuswap Conference Championship in addition to the Kimberley Dynamiters in pursuit of a league title. The Chiefs currently lead the race by a point over the 37-4-1-1 Dynamiters. The Nitros have played one more game, while the Revelstoke Grizzlies also lurk just 3 points behind with a 37-5-0-0 record and 74 points.

The Chiefs are very obviously led by Brody Dale, and they go as he does. He’s only been held off the score sheet twice all year in his 38 games (Sept 14 @ Osoyoos, Dec 1 vs Summerland), and is on pace to score more than 3.0 points per game this year. With 105 points he’s clear in the race for the scoring title, with the next guy on the list being teammate and linemate Zach Erhardt 21 points behind with 84. The third member of that line, Devin Sutton, hasn’t played a game since December 28th against Spokane at the KIJHL Showcase, and his return date is unknown. He has a *mere* (rolls eyes) 21 goals and 57 points in 29 games for the Chiefs this season.

The Chiefs are deep up front with talent that includes Ryan Stack, Lane Paddison, Liam Drager and others that can make a team pay if not air tight defensively. Summerland did that in the two teams previous two meetings, both Summerland victories, and will need to be that good again. This time, however, they’ll have to do it without their captain, Everett Scherger, who remains ineligible until February 23rd due to suspension. The Steam will need to force pucks deep in Kelowna territory, get to their defense with a good aggressive forecheck, and find a way to beat either Braeden Mitchell or Shane Zilka in the Chiefs net.

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As you can see in stats posted above, both have been stellar this season for Head Coach Ken Law and the Chiefs. Zilka is yet to lose, and has started four of the last five for the Chiefs as they go down the stretch. Both will likely be in the conversation for the goaltender of the year award for the Okanagan Division, along with (in my opinion) Daniel Paul of the Osoyoos Coyotes and Jaysen MacLean of the Princeton Posse.

As for Summerland, they have three players who received ‘Honourable Mentions’ in the Player of the Month nominations for January. Cody Swan (1g, 13a in 7gp), Mitchell Gove (7g, 5a in 7gp) and goaltender Eric Scherger (3-2, 2.60 GAA, .935%) were all named as Honourable Mentions, while Darian Long (8g, 9a) took home POM honours for the Okanagan Shuswap Conference. All will likely be in the lineup for the Steam Tuesday night, and counted on heavily to help beat a loaded Kelowna squad looking to run away with the league title.

It’s sure to be a barn burner of a mid-week game, with the opening faceoff going at 7:30pm from the Summerland Arena. Joel and I will have pre-game on the playfullscreen.com broadcast starting at 7:15pm.

 

 

 

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