Steam Down Chiefs With Rematch Looming Saturday

The Summerland Steam and the Kelowna Chiefs don’t like each other. That much can be said as fact. When you play a team nearly thirty times in two seasons including playoffs, that can happen, and it usually produces pretty good hockey. It has so far in 2017/18, as the Steam and the Chiefs met for the third time on Tuesday night at the Summerland Arena.

Their first meeting was a 5-2 Summerland victory that included an empty net goal, and the last two have been one goal Summerland wins, with the last one coming in overtime and Tuesday night’s game ending in a 4-3 score in regulation time.

It’s a matchup of 1st and 4th in the Okanagan Division standings, but these games are always tight and filled with fire.

Summerland came in after going 1-1 on the weekend, falling 4-2 in Chase on Friday before coming up with a big 5-2 win over Princeton at home on Saturday night. They’d been doing it recently without four big time bodies in their lineup as Blake Holowaty, Luke Jirousek, Morey Babakaiff, and Bailey Tamminga had been out of the lineup dealing with various ailments.

Tamminga and Babakaiff returned to the lineup on Tuesday, giving a big boost to Summerland both on offense and defense. The Chiefs are having their share of injury trouble as well, as they played on Tuesday with just 15 skaters.

Despite having the short bench, the Chiefs got out to a good start as 18-year old rookie standout Juanre Naude beat Matt Huber high over the glove just 3:15 into the first period on the Chiefs first power play. Naude made a great solo dash up the ice, beat two Summerland players and used his speed to get around the outside edge, before beating Matt Huber high on the short side to give the Chiefs the early advantage.

The first fifteen minutes of the game was all Kelowna Chiefs, outshooting the Steam 8-2 in that time span and being led up front by big minute man Brendan Mongey. Mongey, counted on to play all over the ice in the absence of injured Chiefs captain Brett Witala, was all over the place in the first period. He started the game centering a line between Naude on the right side, and former Summerland Steam defender Cole Williams on the left side. Williams, normally a defenseman, has made the move up front for the time being as the Chiefs skate missing five forwards.

With Kelowna dominating play through the first period and doing a great job using their speed through the neutral zone, it looked like it might be a long night for the Summerland Steam. Just as the Chiefs were about to finish a great period of hockey, a myriad of penalties allowed Summerland to gain some momentum back. These weren’t penalties that resulted in man advantage situations, but penalties that took both Mongey and Chiefs defender Jarin Sutton off the ice. Sutton and Ethan Grover got tied up and were each assessed two minutes, while Mongey stepped off the bench to involve himself in an altercation and picked up a 10-minute misconduct for his trouble.

Summerland was then able to exploit the middle of the ice to tie the game at 1 in the final minute of the first period, courtesy of Sammy Gabriel’s first KIJHL goal with just :47 on the clock. A good hold at the offensive blue line by Niall Lawrie started the play, and Sam Jones got three cracks at a shot before a puck finally ricocheted to Gabriel in the slot. He was able to beat Chiefs starting goaltender Aris Anagnastopoulos on the blocker side to tie the game and send the teams to the dressing room locked at a goal apiece.

Summerland had a much better second period than they did in the first. They carried the majority of the play, but found themselves trailing when Julian Fodor notched his second of the year for the Chiefs just 4:12 into the frame. Morey Babakaiff would draw the Steam back even just 2:08 later, taking a cross-zone pass from Bailey Tamminga and beating Anagnostopoulos on the short side to tie the game at 2.

Summerland would then take the lead late in the second period thanks to their captain, Sam Jones. He received a pass up the right wing wall from forward Liam McLaren, and was able to dance two Chiefs defenders before making a perfectly placed shot past a standing Anagnostopoulos to give the Steam a 3-2 lead.

That lead would stay safe through the remainder of the second and most of the third period, and Summerland would have a chance to build on it courtesy of this hit from Chiefs F Brendan Mongey:

Mongey would be assessed a 5-minute major for Head Contact plus the attached game misconduct, as well as a Match Penalty on the play, and resulted in a 5-minute power play for Summerland. The victim of the hit, Steam defenseman Bailey Tamminga, was helped off the ice and down the tunnel where he went through the appropriate testing for a concussion. He was able to return to the game about twelve minutes after the hit, but only played a couple more shifts on the night.

Summerland would get nothing out of their power play, despite having 2 minutes of 5-on-3 during that span, and the Chiefs gained some momentum from the kill. They pushed forward, and finally broke through thanks to the recently returned Aidan Bar-Lev-Wise. He picked up a loose puck in the right wing corner and from an angle we all thought impossible, slipped it into the top corner on the short side above Matt Huber to tie the game at three with 6:12 remaining.

It looked like we were destined for another overtime matchup, as neither team looked very interested in taking chances at goal in the final few minutes. Summerland, however, got the opportunity they needed with just under three minutes remaining. Morey Babakaiff was able to pick off a clearing attempt from Kelowna goaltender Aris Anagnostopoulos on the left wing boards. He had a shot at goal that Anagnostopoulos did a great job to get back in the net for, but the rebound popped straight out front to a waiting Ethan Grover in the high slot. He made no mistake, pounding his fifth of the season into the back of the net to give the Steam their lead back with 2:45 to play.

It was all Summerland needed as they would hang on for the 4-3 victory thanks to a blocked shot by Everett Scherger, who used his face to deflect a puck away at the final buzzer to secure the Summerland victory. The two points saw Summerland to have their lead atop the Okanagan Division climb to nine points. That nine point gap over the second place Osoyoos Coyotes could evaporate very quickly, however, as the Coyotes have built up four games in hand. They’ll use one of those games when they take on the Princeton Posse on Friday night while Summerland is idle.

The Steam will take Friday night off this week and enjoy Summerland’s 30th Annual Festival of Lights. Lights come on at 7, but with all the fun activities and food happening downtown, it will surely be a full night event that will end with fireworks sometime between 8 and 9pm.

The Steam are back in action again Saturday night at home against these same Kelowna Chiefs, and I’d venture to guess that you won’t want to miss it. Joel and I will have full pre-game starting at 7:15pm on ahead of a 7:30pm opening face-off at the Summerland Arena.




Chase Awaits after 1-1 Set With Knights

This past week, the Summerland Steam played two games against the North Okanagan Knights. On Friday the team travelled to Armstrong for the first time this season, and came up lame in a disappointing 4-1 loss. It was a case of North Okanagan playing their game and never taking a shift off, and Summerland being just not quite good enough on the road. Alec McLeod scored twice for the Knights on the night, while Ben Josinnet and Brady Marzocco added singles and Zach Willms made 32 saves for the victory. Riley Smoler scored the lone goal for the Steam, his ninth of the season, in the losing effort that saw Owen Petten take the loss in goal while making 25 saves.

In the game Friday night, the Steam had a glimpse back to the not so distant past, as both Morey Babakaiff and Blake Holowaty left injured. Holowaty was particularly worrisome, as he was the recipient of a low hit in the neutral zone that flipped him end over end. The 20-year old Steam forward landed squarely on his head and neck, and had to be helped off the ice, obviously not returning to the hockey game.

Both he and Babakaiff would miss the return match, which took place Tuesday night at the Summerland Arena. The Steam welcomed Everett Scherger back to the lineup after missing nine games due to an injury, which is a huge boost to the team. Scherger used his feistiness and fore-checking ability to cause problems all night on route to a 7-4 Summerland victory.

Cody Swan scored twice (12,13), while Ryan Allen added his first KIJHL goal on a nice shot from the point that found the top corner over the blocker of Zach Willms midway through the first period. The Knights would score two in the first as well, one each from Tyler Olson and Dean Whitcomb, to keep the score tied. The Whitcomb goal came shorthanded in the final minute of the period, as the Steam are still having one heck of a time getting their power play to click.

They were able to strike, and quickly, in the first half of the second period. Cairo Rogers (4), Luke Jirousek (9) , and Gavin Lawrie (7) each scored a goal in the span of 1:31 to break a 2-2 tie up into a 5-2 Summerland lead. The Knights wisely took their timeout after the third goal to collect themselves, and it seemed to help as they were able to claw back with two more goals before the end of the period.

The second period was low-lighted by a multiple fight situation near the midway mark of the period. Jason Shaigec of the Knights hung a knee on Summerland forward Riley Smoler at the Steam blue line, and both Smoler’s linemates, Gavin Lawrie and Luke Jirousek, took exception. Jirousek shed his gloves to confront Shaigec, who tried to sneak to the North Okanagan bench as quickly as possible. Levi Harris stepped in his place to take on Jirousek, and while that was going on Gavin Lawrie and Brady Marzocco dropped the gloves as well.

Jirousek and Harris, being the first ones to drop mitts, were only assessed their regular five-minute major penalties for fighting. Gavin Lawrie and Brady Marzocco will both miss their team’s next game, as they were the second fight in a multiple fight situation.

After that was resolved, the Knights got their goals to make things close again. Tyler Olson notched his second of the night, while Ben Jossinet added the other to cut the Steam lead to 5-4 after two periods.

In the third, the Steam took over. They would only add one goal, that from Everett Scherger exactly 5:00 in, before adding an empty netter from Swan to seal things up. Matt Huber made 17 saves for his 11th victory of the season, while Zach Willms made 23 saves in the losing effort.

Summerland will now look forward to another meeting with the Chase Heat and KIJHL leading scorer Josh Bourne. Bourne leads the team and the league with 38 points (18G+20A) in just 18 games played. Bourne is followed closely by Summerland’s Scott Robinson, who added 4 more assists last week in those two games against the Knights, and sits second in league scoring with 36 points (12G+24A).

 The Heat are led by five key returning players in both the scoring department and the leadership department. Bourne, along with Kolten Moore, Kaden Black, Pat Brady and Zachary Fournier create one of the most potent offenses, and power plays, in the KIJHL. The Heat thrive on their power play, converting 29 of 110 opportunities, a 26.36% clip and good for 2nd in the KIJHL and first in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference.

Special teams is somewhere that the Summerland Steam have struggled so far in 2017/18, so it would make sense to try and keep the conference’s best PP unit off the ice as much as possible.

It will be a matchup of the best two teams in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference, Summerland sitting with 30 points through 20 games, while Chase has 26 points through 21 games played. 

Summerland will need to continue doing what they like to do, which is get in on the forecheck and make things difficult for opposing defenders. They’ve done a great job of it through nearly half the season, and that’s what they’ll have to do to beat a really good hockey club in Chase on Friday night. 

They’ll have to do so without Gavin Lawrie, who sits a one game suspension for his altercation with North Okanagan Knights forward Brady Marzocco on Tuesday night. Both were suspended one game for being the second fight in the same stoppage in play. Blake Holowaty and Morey Babakaiff, along with Bailey Tamminga, missed Tuesday’s game and are listed as questionable for this weekend’s games as well. It would be a big boost to the club to get even one of those players back, let alone all three.  

For the Steam it’s the start of a tough three game stretch over the course of five days. They’re in Chase tonight, who are in first place in the Doug Birks Divison. They’ll return home tomorrow for a clash with the Princeton Posse, who sit second in the Okanagan Division, followed by a home date with the Kelowna Chiefs on Tuesday night. Both Steam home games will start at 7:30pm. 

Big Wheels Keep On Turning as Steam Pick Up Two More Wins

📸 Victoria Rich 

The Summerland Steam are the best team in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference through 18 games played. That’s something that most around the league would be surprised at as we enter the league’s third month, with Summerland looking to build on their division and conference lead. They did so this past weekend, picking up wins in a pair of games against the North Okanagan Knights and the Sicamous Eagles, both by 4-1 scores.

On Friday night, the Steam took it to the North Okanagan Knights from the moment the puck dropped, and although the shots in the first period were fairly close, the Steam dominated the pace of play and set the tempo early. Scott Robinson scored a pair of goals (10,11) and added a pair of assists, vaulting him to the top of the conference’s points leaders list with 30 on the season. Cody Swan (10) and Blake Holowaty (14) would add the other two goals, while Matt Huber made 17 saves in the victory.

On Sunday evening, the Steam would head to Sicamous for a meeting with the Eagles. Robinson was at it again, adding a goal (12) and an assist to bring his point total to 32 on the season and help the Steam to another 4-1 victory. Summerland was boosted on Sunday by the return of Morey Babakaiff and Riley Smoler to their lineup after returning from an injury and a suspension, respectively. Smoler scored twice (7,8) in the game, including the game winner in the second period on a 2-on-1 with Simon Snyman. Cody Swan (11) would score the other goal for the Steam, while Owen Petten picked up the victory with a solid 38 save performance in goal.

Summerland, as mentioned, was bolstered on Sunday by the return of two of their regulars in Smoler and Babakaiff. The team is slowly beginning to get back to their full roster, as the only missing bodies are now Everett Scherger and Bailey Tamminga. Both are expected back within the next couple of weeks, and could potentially give Head Coach John Depourcq his full compliment of available players for the first time this season as we near the halfway point.

Noah Kallichuk, the newest member of the Steam defense corps, played both games this weekend and looked solid in his Steam debut. The 6′ 2″, 170lb defenseman from Beaver County, AB, moves well and distributes the puck with next level ability. He wasn’t credited with a point, but he started the play that led to probably the prettiest goal Summerland’s scored to date on Friday night against the Knights. He’s made sound defensive plays thus far, and makes a good first pass out of the zone to start up ice, which is something sorely needed by every team.

The Steam will be on the road this weekend, with a Friday night date in Armstrong to face the Knights. They’re on home ice again Tuesday, November 14th at 7:30pm when those same Knights make their fourth and final visit of the season to the Summerland Arena.


Steam Split Rivalry Weekend, Continue to Lead Division By 5

Through a third of the KIJHL schedule as October rolls to an end, the Summerland Steam headed into the final weekend of the month with an 11-3 record. They sat first in the KIJHL’s Okanagan Division by a bushel full of points, and were looking to continue their consistently strong play as they hosted the Kelowna Chiefs and Osoyoos Coyotes on consecutive nights.

With their lineup beginning to return to normal after being riddled with injury, the Steam hoped to flex their muscle over their division rivals and extend their division lead even further. The Chiefs came first, on Friday night at the Summerland Arena, and they came to play.

Summerland would come up with a 5-4 overtime victory, but not before having to come back to tie the game three different times. It showed some serious resolve from a young hockey team to come back in a game like that as many times as they did, and ultimately they were led by their veterans. Scott Robinson scored twice, including the goal to tie the game at 4 with :53 seconds remaining in the third period, while Blake Holowaty netted the game winner in overtime to secure the extra point. Matt Huber stopped 34 of 38 for his 9th victory of the season, and Luke Jirousek and Sam Jones also notched singles for the Steam. Lane Paddison with two, Brendan Mongey and Brett Witala all scored for the Chiefs, who dominated the majority of the first two periods.

The turning point of the game, with Kelowna outshooting Summerland heavily all night long, came with 5:02 remaining in the second period. With Kelowna up 3-2, Chiefs goaltender Aris Anagnastopoulos and Steam forward Morey Babakaiff were involved in an altercation in the Kelowna crease. It happened so far behind the play that we didn’t catch it in the broadcast booth or on camera, but by accounts of both Summerland and Kelowna fans and staff, it was quite the scene.

With Summerland buzzing in the offensive zone, Babakaiff took up a familiar post in front of the opposing net, looking to create a screen and perhaps deflect an oncoming puck. As the puck was turned over, the play turned back up into the neutral zone, and the rest of the players vacated accordingly. Babakaiff took a step away from the net before Anagnastopoulos reached around with his stick and made contact with Babakaiff’s nether regions. This, naturally, caused Babakaiff to respond, and he did so with a cross check to the goaltender’s chest.

As the play was moving back up the ice, nobody with a whistle in their hand, nor a black or white team jersey saw any of this happen, except for Kelowna defenseman Isaac Dutka. Dutka turned around in time to see Babakaiff take a swipe at his goaltender, and reacted how you may expect. He skated back, and he and Babakaiff then engaged in some sort of makeshift wrestling match that was ultimately called a fight and barred both players from the game. Dutka was given an instigator penalty plus a fighting major, while Babakaiff was assessed a 5-minute major for cross checking, and a 5-minute major for fighting.

Anagnastopoulos got away scot-free.

This fired up the Summerland bench something fierce, and very likely is what turned the game in their favor. Through two periods they mustered just twelve shots on goal, but came out blazing in the third looking to make a comeback.

They put 15 shots on Aris Anagnostopoulos in the third period, but were unable to break through until around the mid-point. Luke Jirousek scored nearly halfway through the third to tie things at three before Brett Witala responded for the Chiefs just :38 seconds later.

That score line would stick until the final minute, after Summerland spent the entire third period pushing forward. They were finally able to pot one with the extra attacker with :53 seconds remaining, courtesy of Scott Robinson. Robo would notch his eighth of the season, and second of the night, as he located a rebound to the left of Anagnastopoulos and lifted it over him to tie the game at 4.

That would earn each team a point, and Blake Holowaty would end it for the Steam in OT, batting a puck out of mid-air and past a sprawled Anagnastopoulos for a 5-4 overtime victory.

With the victory, the Steam kept their distance between themselves and the 2nd place Osoyoos Coyotes, who were also winners on Friday night in Armstrong. The Coyotes would come for a showdown on Saturday night, and there’s no doubt they were ready for it.

The ‘Yotes blew the doors off in the first period, scoring three times in the first 13:15 and a fourth before the first period was over to chase Matt Huber from the Summerland crease and take a 4-0 lead to the locker room. Carter Shannon would score his third of the night, this one past Owen Petten, just 1:10 into the second period to stretch the lead to 5-0 before Summerland began to show signs of life.

Scott Robinson would tally for the Steam at 15:06 of the second period, finding a puck in the slot and beating the little-tested Daniel Paul in the Coyotes crease. With the score 5-1 and there being signs of life around the Coyotes end of the ice, there was slim hope for a comeback as the Steam looked like they were finding their feet underneath them. That hope was snuffed out 1:01 after the Robinson goal when Hunter Johnson made it 6-1 Coyotes off the rush, beating Petten on the glove side.

Credit to the home team, however, they did not quit. Cody Swan scored a pair in the back half of the game to make it 6-3 before Connor Onstein rounded out the scoring late in the third. The Coyotes rolled to a 7-3 victory, handing Summerland just their fourth loss of the season. Of those four losses, three have come against those same Osoyoos Coyotes.

The season is only 1/3 done, but the season series with the Coyotes is nearly 1/2 way over. They’ll have to get it together and hope to beat them at least a couple of times if they want to win the division, and certainly if they want to have playoff success. As the month of October comes to a close, beginning to prep for the stretch drive to the playoffs will be in the back of everyone’s mind. Yes, it’s a long way off, but it’ll creep up a lot faster than one would think.

The Steam finished October with a 6-2 record, their best October in franchise history, and they lead the Okanagan Division by 5 points with a 12-4 record. The teams behind them though, namely the Coyotes and the Kelowna Chiefs, have two games in hand to play as well.

The Steam continue to be without veterans Everett Scherger and Morey Babakaiff, as well as rookies Bailey Tamminga and Riley Smoler. Scherger and Tamminga continue to recuperate from injury, while Smoler will serve the third and final game of a suspension in Summerland’s next game. Babakaiff had returned from injury on Friday night against Kelowna, where he re-aggravated the same injury in the altercation with Anagnostopoulos and Dutka.

The Steam are back in action this coming Friday, with another home date on tap against the North Okanagan Knights at 7:30PM. The last two games against the Knights have been barn burners, both needing overtime and resulting in 2-1 and 5-4 Summerland victories. They’ll then have Saturday off before firing up the bus for a Sunday visit to the Sicamous Eagles. Summerland will have to get familiar and comfortable with that bus, having only played five road games thus far. Three of those trips have been trips inside an hour’s drive, to Princeton, Osoyoos, and Kelowna, so they’ll have to get comfortable as they get set for a heavy road schedule in the coming months.

All broadcasts are available on, and Joel and I will have pre-game starting at 7:15pm on Friday night ahead of Summerland’s home game against the North Okanagan Knights.






Steam Stay Hot as October Rolls On

In the past, when off to a good start, a bit of regression seems to come in October for the Summerland Steam. Traditionally the month of October has been their worst from a win% standpoint,  so after their 6-2 start in September, it would not have been a surprise to most if the team saw their record begin to even out. With injuries beginning to mount, and playing against tougher competition in the month of October, it was almost expected. 

Instead they’ve continued to impress. Their defense comes as advertised, second in the KIJHL in team goals against average and shutting other teams down every night. Their offense, however, continues to roll after being a pleasant surprise early in the season. 

After a 2-1 record in an extended ‘weekend’ last weekend, two overtime wins over the North Okanagan Knights on Friday and Tuesday, and a 3-1 loss in Osoyoos on Saturday, the Steam had a rare Friday and Saturday off this past weekend. They sat and watched as the rest of the division caught up on some games in hand, and it was probably good that they did with the injuries mounting early in the year. 

On Sunday it was back to action, with a first place showdown in Princeton with the surprising Princeton Posse. The Steam were able to get a couple of bodies back, as Lukas Jirousek and Bailey Tamminga returned to the lineup, but the visitors remained without four key members of their group. Ryan Allen, Ethan Grover, Everett Scherger, and Morey Babakaiff all sat out with injuries, and Summerland went in to try and make a statement with just 15 skaters. 

They did just that, filling the net on their way to a 7-3 victory in the Shuswap to extend their lead atop the Okanagan Divison. Blake Holowaty netted a hat-trick and five points in the win, while Cody Swan, Liam McLaren, Cairo Rogers, and Gavin Lawrie all tallied a single each. Swan (1g+2a) and Scott Robinson (3a) each chipped in with three points, while Steam captain Same Jones notched two assists in the victory. Matt Huber made 26 saves for his eighth win in ten appearances thus far. 

It was a show of strength from the Okanagan Division’s top team, who dominated from the outset despite giving up the first goal just :45 seconds in. They outshot the Princeton Posse by a 41-29 margin, and chased Posse starter Bobby Milligan after two periods. Danyon Lorencz started the third period for the Posse, and looked good despite giving up three goals.

With the 7-3 victory Summerland pushes their lead to five points over the Posse in the Okanagan Divison standings, while also holding two games in hand. The Steam will face tough competition this weekend as they welcome the Kelowna Chiefs for the first time on Friday night, and the Osoyoos Coyotes for the second time on Saturday night. Both are 7:30 starts from the Summerland Arena, with pre-game starting on at 7:15pm. 

Peacock Signs With Silverbacks as Steam Make Trio of Moves

If you saw Brandon Peacock play goal for the Summerland Steam, you got the feeling he may not last too long in the KIJHL. He’s big, he’s mobile, and he’s always in position, giving him all the attributes BCHL and other Junior A teams look for in a goaltender. All it was going to take was an injury or a stumble out of the gate for Brandon to get his shot, and that came this week when he signed with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks. The ‘Backs have struggled to a 5-6 start out of the gate, and sit second to last in a very tight Interior Divison through 11 games. 

“We always knew there was a strong possibility that Brandon wasn’t going to be with us all season,” Said Steam GM Mike Rigby, “He’s a very good young goaltender who was close to being in Junior A to start the season, and it just didn’t work out that way. We were very lucky to have him here even for a short period of time, and we wish him the best as he moves on to join Salmon Arm.”

When asked about the KIJHL and it’s knack for moving players to the next level, that being either higher levels of junior hockey or into the collegiate ranks, Rigby added that “This is what we’re here for. We want to help these young men become better hockey players and better citizens and I think our organization and the KIJHL as a whole have done a great job of that, particularly over the last four or five years.”

Having a vacant opening at the goaltending position after the departure of Peacock to Salmon Arm, Rigby swung a deal with the Castlegar Rebels, acquiring 1999 born goaltender Owen Petten in exchange for Future Considerations.

“Owen was at our prospects camp in April so we kind of knew about him a little bit and how he likes to play,” Said Rigby, “We like what he brings to the table and we’re excited to have him join our team.”

Petten will be in the lineup this weekend, presumably backing up Matt Huber when the Steam face North Okanagan on Friday at home, and travel to Osoyoos on Saturday to play the Coyotes.

After acquiring Petten, Rigby completed one more trade, again with the Castlegar Rebels. The Summerland Steam acquired 18-year old forward Brady Olson from the Rebels in exchange for the playing rights of 19-year old forward Calvin Rout. Olson, from Redwater, AB, spent the past two seasons with the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers Midget AA team, collecting 7 goals, 17 assists, and 137 PIM in 61 games.

Rout spent the 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons with the Steam, collecting 10 goals and 6 assists in 68 career KIJHL games.

Summerland will hit the ice again tomorrow night, Friday, October 13th when the North Okanagan Knights pay their first visit of the season. The Steam will see a couple of familiar faces, as former Affiliate Players Brett and Sean Wilson, twins from Summerland, BC, signed with the Knights full time for the 2017/18 season.

Steam Stay Out Front With Four Point Weekend

Photo: IGA fundraiser for Summerland Food Bank. 📸 Suzen Marshall

As the month of October got underway on the KIJHL schedule, the Summerland Steam saw themselves out front of the division, two points clear of the surprising Princeton Posse. After two more wins this past weekend, the Steam now find themselves out in front of the rest of the Okanagan Shuswap Conference by a point. It’s been an impressive start for the Steam, who on Friday were finally able to ice their full twelve forward, six defenseman, two goaltender lineup for the first time all season.

The only player to not play a game in September, Liam McLaren, was cleared to return to the lineup on Friday giving Head Coach John Depourcq his full compliment of players to work with for the first time. They welcomed a Chase Heat squad fresh off an Okanagan Shuswap Conference title last season, who had ten returning players including their top four scorers.

The first period of the game Friday night was very back and forth, with Summerland’s Cody Swan scoring late in the period to give the Steam a 1-0 lead. Swan’s sixth of the year, assisted by Everett Scherger and Scott Robinson, put the home team up one headed to the break.

After the late goal, Summerland arrived for the second period as flat as could be. Chase took it to them for the majority of the period, and scored three times. They cashed in twice on their power play, first with Kolten Moore finishing his second of the season. Josh Bourne would then tack on an even strength marker just :29 seconds later, and Colten Nikiforuk would add the second powerplay tally late in the period.

Down 3-1, Summerland had some digging to do in the third period to come out with a victory. They did just that. Everett Scherger got the party started with his 5th of the season, and Blake Holowaty tallied his sixth to tie the game on a mad solo dash to the net just 1:12 later.

With the game tied at three, Summerland went to work on goaltender Connor Webb in the Chase crease, and he was able to stand tall through a near 6 minute onslaught where Summerland fired 12 shots on goal. Finally, with about seven minutes remaining, Sam Jones was able to tally his second of the season on a long screened shot that found the back of the net to give Summerland a 4-3 lead.

Knowing the Chase ‘counter punch’ was coming, Summerland did well to shut down the d-zone in the closing minutes, even taking two penalties and killing them off in the process. Everett Scherger would add a shorthanded empty netter, his 6th goal of the year, to seal the deal and allow Summerland to take home a 5-3 victory. The line of Everett Scherger (2g+1a), Cody Swan (1g+2a) and Scott Robinson (3A) combined for nine points in the victory.




A night later, it was the Kamloops Storm on the visitors bench in the Summerland Arena. The Steam were able to head home with a 7-3 victory, but it wasn’t as easy as the scoreline might indicate. After picking up rather easy 6-2 and 5-2 wins in the first two meetings of the season, Summerland was provided a much stiffer test from a Kamloops team that continues to come together while adding some veteran pieces. Recently returned Hayden Dick and Dario Piva both suited up for the Storm on Saturday night, though Dick was ejected and ultimately suspended for a kneeing incident in the second period.

After Riley Smoler (4), Gavin Lawrie (4) and Blake Holowaty (7) scored to put Summerland up 3-1, Dick cut across the middle of the ice and hung his leg to make a hit inside the Summerland zone. He caught Steam forward Lukas Jirousek in a nasty knee-on-knee collision, that felled Jirousek and forced him to miss the remainder of Saturday night’s game.

That was about the extent of the fireworks, as the Storm would make it 3-2 before Summerland answered with what would eventually be the game winner from Morey Babakaiff, his second of the season. Kamloops’ River Ross would then close the gap to start the third period with his 3rd of the season, before Summerland would restore their two goal lead and build from there. Gavin Lawrie scored to make it 5-3, his second of the night and fifth of the season after some great forecheck work from Everett Scherger.

Blake Holowaty would then score shorthanded into an empty net to make it 6-3, before Summerland would tack on another from Liam McLaren on the power play to close out the scoring. McLaren’s first KIJHL goal came on the powerplay, as he tipped a shot from the point to make it 7-3 and close out the scoring.

Matt Huber was solid in the Summerland crease when called upon, stopping 22 of 25 shots faced as Summerland picked up their 8th victory of the season.

The victory propels Summerland to the top of the KIJHL standings with 16 points through 10 games, and remain 2 points up on the Princeton Posse who kept pace with a 2-1 victory over the North Okanagan Knights.

Summerland will see those Knights when they hit the ice for game action again, as their next game comes at home against North Okanagan on Friday, October 13th. This weekend Summerland had a little bit of trouble in the second period of both games. In the first period of each game they came out ready to play, and found themselves lagging a bit during second period action. Neither victory was a ‘complete’ 60 minutes, but they got the job done and that’s what’s important. They’ll need a 60 minute effort twice next weekend, as they get the Knights at home on Friday before travelling into the desert to face the Osoyoos Coyotes on Saturday night, their first visit to the Sun Bowl this season.





Steam Looking For Continued Success as October Schedule Kicks Off

When the Summerland Steam start their October Schedule on Friday night, they’ll be looking to change a bit of team history. Their September’s have always been good, save for that first year in 2011/12, but their October schedules have seen mixed results.

Through the past six seasons, the entirety of the history of the Summerland Steam to this point, September has been their best month. They’ve played 40 September games over the past six years, compiling a 24-13-0-3 record and a .600% winning percentage for the month.

They’ve followed that up with their worst month of each calendar year, putting together a 22-34-0-1 record in 57 October games in the history of the franchise. That’s a .385% winning percentage, and they’ve only gone above the .500% line once, last season when they went 5-4.

The 2017/18 Steam, the youngest team Summerland has ever had, will look to best that mark this season and continue to lead their division. The October schedule kicks off this coming weekend, October 6th and 7th, both at home, when the Chase Heat and Kamloops Storm come to town.

For the Steam it will be their first look at the Chase Heat, who sit 2nd in the Doug Birks Divison with a 4-3 record. They’re led by nine returning players, including 1999 born Forward Josh Bourne. Bourne, in his third KIJHL season, leads the team with 5 goals and 13 points in just five games played. The Heat also have 3 other ‘impact’ forwards returning from the team that won the Okanagan Shuswap Conference Championship last season. 

Zach Fournier, Kaden Black and Kolten Moore are those other three, and the four forwards are the top four scorers for the Heat. On defence the returning Pat Brady, Ryan Okino and Grady Musgrave provide offense from the defense, as well as steady defensive play and veteran leadership.

Chase plays extremely well on special teams, sitting 4th in the league on the power play at 22.00% (11/50) and 8th on the penalty at 88.68% (47/53). Summerland best not give them too many opportunities, because the Heat know how to capitalize. 

After Chase on Friday, Summerland will see the Kamloops Storm for the final time this season on Saturday night at the Summerland Arena. The Storm have struggled out of the gate, going just 1-6-1 in their first eight games. 

Head Coach Ed Patterson and his staff have a very young hockey team, and there’s no doubt they’ll improve on that start as they hit the month of October. They’ve seen Summerland twice this season so far, and have been outscored 11-4 in two losses.

For Summerland its been a new trio of Yukon players leading the way. The line of Riley Smoler, Lukas Jirousek and Gavin Lawrie have been Summerland’s best trio through eight games. Smoler leads the team with 14 points (3g+11a), while Jirousek leads in the goal category with seven. Another pleasant surprise up front has been forward Cody Swan. Playing on a line with Everett Scherger and Scott Robinson, the three have gelled together nicely and formed a high scoring line that plays together both at even strength and on the power play. Swan is second in team scoring, with five goals and six assists through eight games. Robinson also has 11 points, amassing 3 goals and 8 assists. 

Their defence and goaltending have been as advertised through eight games. They were expected to be a veteran laden group with some young talent mixed in, and they’ve been just that. Newcomer Ryan Allen, acquired from the Osoyoos Coyotes in mid-September, has looked very good early on. The young defender has five assists in his first seven games, playing even strength minutes alongside Summerland captain Sam Jones. Allen has also become a vital member of the Steam penalty kill, and does well to use his long reach and physical ability to dictate the play in the defensive zone.

As good as their defence has been, that was expected of the Summerland Steam. What wasn’t expected was that the team would be leading the league in total offense after month number one. It’s been a pleasant surprise this far,  and it will be fun to see how this very young team responds to their schedule getting tougher as we go. 

The Steam should have a full four line, three d-pair roster available very soon, as forward Liam McLaren is nearing a return from injury. Head Coach John Depourcq and his staff have been going with a 10 or 11 forward unit on most nights, and are excited to get back to a full lineup.

Come out and join us this Friday and Saturday night, both 7:30pm starts at the Summerland Arena, and enjoy all the action! The Steam will also be down at Summerland IGA on Saturday morning from 11AM-1PM helping bag groceries and interacting with fans  

Steam Complete First Month Surge With Victory in Kelowna 

As the end of September comes and goes, the importance of a good start to the KIJHL season is evident. It was imperative with an extremely young team that the Summerland Steam get out ahead of the pack and get a good first month of the 2017/18 season out of the way.

They did just that, heading into the final weekend of the month this past weekend with a 5-1 record. Their wins came at the expense mostly of the Doug Birks Division, beating Kamloops twice, Sicamous twice, and 100 Mile House, while losing to only Revelstoke. 

To finish up the month, Summerland got their first taste of divisional play, hosting the Osoyoos Coyotes on Friday and travelling to visit the Kelowna Chiefs for the first time on Saturday. The results were mixed, a 4-2 loss to Osoyoos and a 5-2 win over Kelowna, but Summerland showed well and an argument could be made that they should have won both games.

The only reason they didn’t pick up a victory over Osoyoos on Friday was Coyotes goaltender Daniel Paul. He made 32 saves, a half dozen or so he had no business making, and picked up the victory in a game that Summerland led 34-22 on the shot clock at game’s end. 

The Steam got goals from Cody Swan (4) and Scott Robinson (3) in the losing effort, while Jackson Barrett (1), Carter Robinson (1,2) and Cameron Welch (ENG) scored for Osoyoos. 5th year Coyotes forward Judd Repole notched three assists, while Brandon Peacock made 19 saves in the Summerland crease.

Trying to get back in the win column, the Steam boarded the bus on Saturday to Kelowna for their first meeting of the season with their playoff nemesis, the Kelowna Chiefs. The two teams played one another 15 times last season, and the angst was evident from the opening faceoff on Saturday night.

Kelowna would take a 1-0 lead on a goal from Kaden Stewart, his first, but it was all Steam all the time from then on. Gavin Lawrie tied the game late in the first period, beating Chiefs’ goaltender Ethan Hunt with a backhand shot for his 2nd of the year and first of two on the night.

The Steam would take the lead in the 2nd, after Morey Babakaiff forced a turnover in the Kelowna zone and found Blake Holowaty. Holowaty notched his fifth of the campaign, beating Hunt low to the blocker side to give his team the lead.

It was a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, as Cody Swan would add his fifth and Gavin Lawrie his third (second of the night) to push the lead to 4-1 in the third period.

The Chiefs would push, and on the power play would score to close the gap to 4-2 courtesy of Jordan Woytas with 3:19 remaining.

They would continue their push, but Summerland would add an empty net goal from Simon Snyman, his first, after he knocked a shot down with his face. He was able to get up, go and retrieve the puck, and send it the length of the ice into the gaping cage to close out the scoring at 5-2. Matt Huber picked up his fifth win of the season, making 27 stops. 

A win and a loss on the weekend moved Summerland’s record to 6-2 in the month of September. That’s an unbelievable start for a young team finding their footing in the KIJHL and settling into the regular season. 

They’re leading the KIJHL in total goals (38) and goals per game average (4.75), as well as Goal Differential at +19. On the defensive side of the puck they’re 4th in the KIJHL in Goals Against (19) and 3rd in Team Goals Against Average (2.38).

On special teams the Steam sit 6th overall on the power play, converting 9 times on 48 chances for an 18.75% conversion rate. They’re 35/41 on the penalty kill as well, 11th in the KIJHL. 

If there’s any area that the Steam need work, it’s in the penalty department. They’re giving their opponents an average of just over five power play opportunities per game, which is too many unless you’re going to be 90% or better on the penalty kill.

Summerland will now reload and look for another strong month in October. They’ll start their month on Friday, October 6th at home when the Chase Heat visit for the first time this year. That one will be a 730 start and tickets are just $10! 

Steam Fill the Net in Two Weekend Victories

To start the 2017/18 KIJHL season, if someone would have classified the Summerland Steam as an ‘offensive juggernaut’, this broadcaster would have placed money on the opposite. With the majority of their experience playing on the blue line and in goal, most close to the Summerland Steam organization figured they would be winning games by 2-1 or 3-2 scores.

Instead, a young and inexperienced offense led by just a couple of veterans, Everett Scherger, Morey Babakaiff, and converted defenseman Scott Robinson, has become that offensive juggernaut that few expected. Through six regular season games they’ve scored 31 times, averaging 5.17 goals per game while giving up just 13 goals against. Firing on all cylinders, they were able to roll over the Sicamous Eagles and Kamloops Storm this past weekend, outscoring the two opponents 13-4 in the process.

After pouring in eight goals against Sicamous Friday in an 8-2 victory, they added 5 more in a 5-2 victory against Kamloops on Saturday. They’ve scored more goals than everybody in the KIJHL but the Grand Forks Border Bruins, and lead the league in goal differential at a whopping +18.

The eight goal outburst on Friday against Sicamous came after a 6-0 romp of the same Eagles in their last game the Saturday prior. In the 8-2 home win Friday, Summerland got hat-trick efforts from both Everett Scherger and Lukas Jirousek, while getting a goal each from newcomers Blake Holowaty and Simon Snyman.

Holowaty also had an assist in his Steam debut, and followed that up with a two goal, one assist effort the next night against Kamloops. In that game Wyatt Kelly notched his first KIJHL goal, while Cody Swan and Riley Smoler also scored for the home team.

Matt Huber took home both victories on the weekend, stopping 26 of 30 combined shots over the course of both games. He wasn’t busy, or tested often, but he made the saves necessary to pick up the victories and keep the Steam out ahead of the rest of the Okanagan Division before divisional play really starts this weekend.

It will be interesting to see how the Steam fair as they begin play against their own division on Friday night. Their six games thus far, all against Doug Birks Division opponents, have been a good test for a young hockey team and shown that they can flat out play. They’ll get their first taste of the division’s elite when they face the rival Osoyoos Coyotes at home on Friday before heading into Rutland to play the Kelowna Chiefs on Saturday night.

They’ll lean on the veteran presence of their defense in that pair of games, surely, but these types of opponents are exactly the reason for looking to bring in a forward like Blake Holowaty. Veteran leadership up front was something that Summerland had been looking for since the beginning of preseason, and it looks as though they’ve found it in the 20-year old Penticton native. He notched five points in his first two games, and was the best player on the ice for the majority of both hockey games. He’s a great addition to the forward group, and will provide some guidance to the younger players getting used to the pace and physicality of Jr. B hockey.

The Coyotes team that Summerland will see on Friday night will be a lot different than years past. They’re younger, and seem to be in a much more ‘score by committee’ mode than anyone is used to seeing from a Ken Law led hockey team early in the season. They’re waiting on the return of superstar Colin Bell, who is helping protect our province and fighting wildfires in the Cariboo region. They’re expecting him to return sometime in October, and will get much more dangerous when he does.

The Kelowna Chiefs, however, are laden with firepower in the form of team captain Brett Witala and forward Brody Dale. Dale, who spent the back half of the 2016/17 season with the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL, leads the KIJHL in points per game average through three weekends at 3.3 points per game. He’s only played three, and has five goals and five assists in those three games. Summerland will need to defend Kelowna’s top line to the fullest extend if they want success against the rival Chiefs. The Chiefs had been handling all tests up until Saturday night, when they ran into penalty trouble in Chase. The Heat scored six times on the power play on route to a 7-0 victory over Chase’s former franchise, the Chiefs.

Summerland will look to continue their strong play, and it starts with the defensive side of the puck. They’ve done well to limit their turnovers in their first six games, and are doing well to clear the puck from the zone on the first attempt. They’re letting their goaltenders see the puck, and making sure second and third opportunities aren’t available for would be attackers in front of the net. They’re also doing well to stay out of the box, which will come in handy especially against the Coyotes and their propensity to victimize the Steam penalty kill.

Overall, a 5-1 start to the season is what the Steam were looking for in their six games against the Doug Birks Division. They’ll now get fired up to see the Coyotes and the Chiefs for the first of AT LEAST eight times this season, and see how they stand up against the opponents they’ll see the most over the course of the season.

‘Rivalry Weekend’ starts Friday night, a 7:30 puck drop from the Summerland arena against the Osoyoos Coyotes. Joel and I will have full pre-game with audio from both coaches starting at 7:15PM on!