FEBRUARY 20TH, 2019
SUMMERLAND, BC – All of a sudden, we’ve come upon the final weekend of the KIJHL Regular Season. Although the KIJHL Showcase feels like it wrapped up just days ago, the Summerland Steam find themselves searching for consistency and production as the playoffs approach.
They began their week with a 2-1 victory of the Osoyoos Coyotes last Wednesday night, pushing their record to 4-0-1-0 against their southern rivals this season. Brett Wilson (4, assisted by Mitchell Gove and Bevis Chou) and Linden Gove (19, assisted by Cody Swan and Morey Babakaiff) scored the goals, while Jared Breitkreuz made 26 saves in victory. Wyatt Wong replied for the visitors, while Bailey Monteith stopped 24 shots in the loss.
It was a game that saw Summerland get back to doing what they needed to do. They were able to limit their defensive zone turnovers, get the puck deep behind the Coyotes defenders, and use an effective forecheck to create opportunities for their offense. It bumped a four game skid, and also picked up regular season win # 200 for Head Coach John DePourcq.
“It was nice to get the W,” Said DePourcq with a chuckle in his pre-game coaches comments on Saturday night, “Unfortunately it comes after four in a row there where we faced a lot of different challenges. We had a long road trip going up to Sicamous then on to Revelstoke. Long bus rides, we got moved out of a hotel early and had to hang out in -30 degree weather up in Revy, and then playing in front of a packed house. These are all good experiences for the guys that all hockey players have to learn to deal with. It was nice to see the boys walk into Osoyoos after a few nights off and just play a good solid hockey game. They competed hard, they got involved and really worked their tails off and did well to come out of there with two points.”
Whatever good was done by getting it together on Wednesday night was undone in the first period on Friday, as the Steam gave up an early lead to the Princeton Posse and couldn’t claw back. With the Posse chasing a playoff spot and potentially a third place seeding and a trip to Summerland on February 26th, the Steam allowed them to come out hot and jump to a 3-0 lead. The Steam were outshot 18-3 in the frame while turning the puck over more than a dozen times, with Ethan Schmor, Aidan Avila and Trevor Gulenschyn tallying for the visiting Posse.
The Steam were much better in the final two periods, directing 27 shots on goal, but they couldn’t overcome the slow start. They also couldn’t beat Posse goaltender Jaysen MacLean who has been a workhorse for Head Coach Mark McNaughton and the Posse all season long. He’s appeared in 36 games this weekend, second to only Kamloops Storm goaltender Ethan Paulin-Hatch’s 39 appeareances. Despite a 13-18-1 record he carries a save percentage near .920%, and is a BIG part of why the Posse are in the hunt for the third spot in the Okanagan Division.
MacLean’s bid for a second shutout this season was spoiled in the final minute on Saturday when Summerland’s Cody Swan was able to tip a shot past him to cut the Posse lead to 3-1. Swan’s 18th of the season, assisted by Brett Wilson and Bevis Chou, would be the only goal of the night for a struggling Summerland offense as they fell by a 3-1 score.
For the Steam the theme has been all too common as of late. In the 10 games since completing a weekend sweep of Kelowna and Revelstoke on January 11th and 12th the team has gone 3-7 and been outscored 28-16. The offense has sputtered, as the Steam have scored more than two goals only once (5, January 25th vs Osoyoos) since all those suspensions were levied at the end of the game on January 12th. With just one game remaining in his suspension, it’s evident the Summerland Steam are excited for their captain, Everett Scherger, to be back in the lineup.
He has one more game to sit in purgatory and that will take place Friday, February 22nd at the Summerland Arena against the North Okanagan Knights. Scherger will be eligible to return for the team’s final regular season game on Saturday, February 23rd against the Osoyoos Coyotes.
The Knights, although winners by a 3-2 score in overtime on Monday night against Princeton, are out of the Okanagan Division playoff race. They struggled down the stretch to find their footing in a race that saw them, the Posse, and the Osoyoos Coyotes all in a fight for the final two playoff spots. They do, however, hold a 3-2 advantage in the season series with the Steam, who are 2-2-0-1 in five contests so far.
Puck drop will be 7:30pm on Friday night at the Summerland Arena, and will be the final regular season home game for 20-year olds Dawson Jenner and Jared Breitkreuz, both Summerland natives.
The Steam will wrap their regular season in Osoyoos on Saturday night before hosting their annual Awards Ceremony on Sunday at the Summerland Youth Centre. The event will be from 2:00pm to 5:00pm and is free to attend. Fans, volunteers, billet families, staff and parents are invited to join in celebrating the award winners prior to the playoffs starting on Tuesday, February 26th at the Summerland Arena.