Steam Split Inter-Conference Weekend, Trounce Coyotes

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Photo: Chris Swan

For the first time in nearly four calendar years, the Summerland Steam played host this past weekend to the Grand Forks Border Bruins and the Castlegar Rebels. Due to changes in schedule format, the last time the Neil Murdoch Division teams visited the Summerland Arena was the 2015/16 season, with Summerland picking up wins against both Castelgar and Grand Forks on November 7th and 22nd, 2015, respectively.

Fast forward nearly four seasons and the 2019/20 Summerland Steam were set to host both this weekend, with the Border Bruins visiting Saturday night and the Castlegar Rebels coming to Summerland to complete a ‘3in3′ weekend at 2pm on Sunday.

The Border Bruins arrived on the heels of a 5-3 win in Osoyoos on Friday night, and the Steam wanted to ensure that wasn’t going to be the case early. Morey Babakaiff scored his first of the season just 2:58 into the hockey game, converting a pass from Justin Swan in the slot. The younger Swan, along with Zack Cooper, did good work to retrieve a puck below the goal line, and Swan found Babakaiff in the slot. He changed his angle, and beat Border Bruins goaltender Dillon Beebe through the five-hole to open the scoring. The Steam would outshoot the Border Bruins 13-2 in the first frame, but only got one tally for their hard work.

They found a way to break it open in the second period, putting 17 shots on goal and scoring three times to run the score to 4-0. Austin O’Neill and Lane French both notched their first of the season, while Zack Cooper tallied his second of the year late in the period. O’Neill and French both tallied on the power play with Mitch Gove and Cody Swan assisting, while Cooper’s goal came late in the period at even strength to drive the dagger through the Border Bruins.

Mitchell Gove would add his first of the season in the third period and Noah Eisenhut would tally his first KIJHL goal to round out the scoring on route to a 6-0 Steam victory. Darby Tipton saw 19 shots in the Summerland goal and earned his first shutout of the season in his first start.

From the beginning on Saturday night, the Summerland Steam flexed their offensive muscle. They were hard on the forecheck, made life difficult for Grand Forks’ defenders, and found ways to cash in. Their power play went 3-for-5 on the night, and is in the top 2 in the KIJHL after two weekends of play.

After their domination of the Border Bruins on Saturday night, the Steam rode high into their Sunday matinee against the Castlegar Rebels. Castlegar came into Summerland after having played Princeton (in Merritt, BC) on Friday and North Okanagan on Saturday. Both games resulted in losses for the Rebels, who very evidently showed up to make a statement on Sunday afternoon.

For Summerland that wasn’t the case, as the Rebels got on them early and never let up on the way to a 7-3 victory. Castlegar rode a hat trick from Tyren Grimsdale and 27 saves from 20-year old goaltender Justin Faiella to the win. Ben Anderson, Tyson Soobotin, Gavin Entzminger and Colby Winia also scored for the Rebels in the game.

Cody Swan and Mitch Gove each had three points for the Steam in the loss, while Eric Scherger made 17 Saves. Gove scored one and added two assists, while Swan tallied twice and assisted on Gove’s goal to provide all the offense.

The Steam wouldn’t have much time to correct things before their next game, as they head to Osoyoos for a Wednesday night tilt with the winless Coyotes. Osoyoos lost both games last weekend, 5-3 at the hands of the Grand Forks Border Bruins in their home opener on Friday night, and an 11-1 drubbing against the Revelstoke Grizzlies on Saturday. They were outshot 63-15 in the game, and things didn’t get better for them on Wednesday night.

Although the shot clock stated (somehow) that they outshot the Summerland Steam by a 41-26 margin, Summerland would walk out of the Sun Bowl with a dominating 8-2 victory.

The scoring began early and continued often as the Steam beat 20-year old Coyotes goaltender Braedyn Funke four times in the first period on just 11 shots. Austin O’Neil (2), Reid Bateman (2), Cody Swan (3) and Noah Eisenhut (2) all scored goals for the Steam, who led 2-0 just 1:42 into the game.

A goaltending change to start the second period didn’t seem to help the Coyotes, as Logan Jorginson took over the Coyotes crease. Just :40 seconds into the frame, Jorginson was beaten by a Lane French shot that looked to make the score 5-0, however, it was waved off by the officials for an unknown reason.

 

It took just 26 seconds after the disallowed goal for the score to reach 5-0 courtesy Morey Babakaiff. His second of the season and first of two on the night came on a slap shot from the high slot.

 

 

11 minutes later, Babakaiff would benefit from some good penalty kill work of he and Austin O’Neil, netting his second of the game and third of the season to make it 6-0 just past the game’s halfway point.

 

O’Neil would then add his second goal of the game, receiving a gift from a Coyotes defenseman and depositing the puck between the legs of an unsuspecting Logan Jorginson to run the lead to 7-0.

Finally, after Blake Astorino (3) and Connor Funke (2) scored to make it a 7-2 game, Noah Eisenhut would notch his second of the night to seal the 8-2 victory for the Summerland Steam. Eisenhut got loose down the right wing side and made a great shot post and in on the blocker side for his third of the season.

In all, it goes down as an 8-2 victory for the Steam. It’s a win that was sorely needed after a sub-par performance against the Castlegar Rebels on home ice on Sunday, and gets them back on track headed into the back half of the home and home with the Coyotes on Friday at the Summerland Arena.

Austin O’Neil led the way on Wednesday night, scoring twice and adding three assists. He now leads the team in points with 9 (3g, 6a) in their five games played. Morey Babakaiff and Noah Eisenhut also each scored twice, with Babakaiff adding an assist too. Eric Scherger stopped 39 of the 41 shots recorded, bouncing back nicely from a tough outing on Sunday afternoon.

The win will give the Steam some much needed confidence heading into the rematch on Friday at the Summerland Arena. Surely, the Coyotes will arrive looking for revenge and it’ll be important for Summerland to start well and set the tone early in the hockey game.

Joel Barg and myself will have the Play-By-Play call beginning with the Coastal Eye Clinic Pre-Game Show starting at 7:15. Puck drop is 7:30 and tickets are just $10 for adults, $8 for students/seniors, and Family Packs are available for just $25!

 

Steam Earn Split With Win Over Knights

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2018/19 File Photo: Chris Swan

After a home opener that didn’t go their way on Friday night against the Kelowna Chiefs, the Summerland Steam found a way to battle back Saturday when the North Okanagan Knights rolled into town.

While Reid Bateman scored his first KIJHL goal on Friday and Ty Banser notched his first of the year, the Kelowna power play proved too much in a 5-2 loss. Porter Dawson and Zane Avery each scored twice for the visiting Chiefs, while Jordan Lowry potted the other on route to the victory.  The Chiefs went 3-for-6 on their power play, scoring just once at even strength and once into an empty net.

Saturday was a different story for the Summerland Steam. They arrived on time and were good from the start, although goaltender Eric Scherger was forced to weather an early storm. After allowing the Knights the first 8 shots of the hockey game, the Steam settled in and began to find their legs. They used the first period media timeout to their advantage and took over to finish the frame, outshooting the Knights 13-12 after 1.

The game remained scoreless until the 2:09 mark of the second period when Cory Loring would open the scoring for the Steam on a power play. Loring’s first of the season came via a great power move down the left wing side, cutting to the goal and slipping a puck through the pads of Knights goaltender Caedan Bellmann. Bellman was terrific on this night, and would earn game star honours for North Okanagan in what turned out to be a 4-3 overtime win for the Summerland Steam.

After the Steam opened the scoring the Knights would storm back to score three straight goals and take a 3-1 lead to the 2nd intermission. The first KIJHL goals for Nic Bolin and Nicholas Teale, plus a late one from Cole Haberlack left the Steam reeling heading to the third period.

An early goal from newcomer Jordon Woytas, his first of the season, would kickstart Summerland’s comeback attempt in the third period. Ty Banser and Zack Cooper did great work to get the puck through the neutral zone, and Banser found Woytas streaking to the far post for a tap in to cut the North Okanagan lead in half. Cooper would then get in on the scoring action as well, burying his first of the season to tie the game on a rebound just prior to the midway mark of the period.

Both teams would push, but Bellmann and his counterpart Eric Scherger were up to task. Both made some important saves in the final ten minutes of play, earning each team a point and forcing overtime for the first time this season.

In the extra frame, the Steam had the better of the chances and were finally able to beat Bellmann near the halfway point of the first overtime. After a shot in the slot was blocked by a Knights defender, Steam forward Ty Banser was able to collect his own rebound and beat Bellmann on the backhand for his second in as many nights. Banser also added an assist on the nigh while Austin O’Neil collected a pair, and the Steam found themselves winners of a very entertaining hockey game.

It turned into a bit of a character win for the young Steam squad, who found themselves in a (maybe unlucky) 3-1 hole after two periods. They showed good grit and resolve to find a way to claw back, and their penalty kill was very good in the third period when it was counted on most.

They’ll look to continue with some of the things that made them successful next Saturday when they’re home to the Grand Forks Border Bruins at 7:30pm. The Castlegar Rebels will visit Sunday at 2:00pm to wrap up another two game home weekend.