Steam Make Mutual Commitment with Jirousek for 2017/18

As the 2017/18 KIJHL season draws near, the Summerland Steam are beginning to put together a roster on paper that should compete for a division championship on the ice. 

With the players who are eligible to return, including 2017 Rookie of the Year Everett Scherger, Top Defenceman Cole Williams, Most Improved Player Morey Babakaiff, and Team MVP Matt Huber, things already look promising for Head Coach John Depourcq. Add into the mix the commitment of Okanagan Hockey Academy defenseman Bailey Tamminga and all other potential returnees, and you’ve got the makings of a pretty solid hockey team. 

The Steam added to their strong recruiting class recently by coming to a mutual commitment with 16-year old forward Lukas Jirousek. Jirousek played two games at the end of the 2016/17 season for the Steam as an affiliate player, and looked comfortable in the ice time he received. 

The 6’4″, 185lb forward from Whitehorse, Yukon (yes, another one!) spent the past two seasons in the Pacific Coast Hockey Academy program. In those two seasons, Jirousek spent his years playing a season in each of the Elite 15 and Midget Prep divisions of the CSSHL, averaging 0.5 points per game over 47 career games. 

In 2015/16, playing on an Elite 15 squad that went 7-24-0-4, Jirousek notched 6 goals and 5 assists for 11 points in just 18 games played. 

After moving to the Midget Prep program for the 2016/17 season, Lukas found himself on a team that went 6-23-0-1 in 30 regular season games, and failed to qualify for the CSSHL Playoffs. During that season, Jirousek tallied 6 goals and 7 assists for thirteen points in 29 games.

The most impressive stat of the bunch, perhaps, is penalty minutes. For a young man that is 6″2, 170lbs as a 15-year old in the CSSHL, the fact he accumulated just 6 penalty minutes in 29 games and used that big frame effectively to play dependable minutes is something to take note of.

“We’re very excited to have a mutual commitment with Lukas,” says Steam GM Mike Rigby, “He showed really well in limited time here last season as an affiliate player and we’re thrilled to potentially have him full time for the 2017/18 KIJHL Season. He’s a big young man that moves well and creates offense with a good hockey sense and great set of hands.”

Jirousek has grown 2 inches and put on 15lbs since the end of last season while training with Allout Hockey over the course of the summer. He entered last season at 6’2″ and 170lbs (according to CSSHL.ca), and is now reportedly closing in on 6’4″, 185lbs. All out Hockey is the same training program used by previous Steam standouts Jarrett Malchow and Wyatt Gale, as well as Kamloops Storm forwards Kole and Kaine Comin, all products of the Yukon Territory.

Not only is Lukas getting bigger and stronger in his training programs, but he’s also continued his strong summer with a great showing at a recent prospect showcase in Whistler. There he tallied 14 points in just five games against other players born between 1999 and 2002.

Upon his arrival in Summerland, Jirousek will join a strong group that should surely compete once again at the top of the Okanagan Division. A strong class of eligible returnees, mixed with a talented group of rookies should have the Steam excited about what 2017/18 can turn out to be.

They’ll look to start strong, with eight of their first ten games against opponents from outside their own division. Their only divisional games in the first month come on back to back nights on September 29 at home vs Osoyoos, and September 30 in Rutland against the Kelowna Chiefs. 

The Steam will play two exhibition games prior to the start of the season, September 1st in Osoyoos, and September 2nd in Summerland. 

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Steam Look For First Month Surge against Birks as Schedule Draws Near

It won’t take long for rivalries to renew when the 2017/18 KIJHL Season gets underway in about eight weeks time. With the announcement of the KIJHL Schedule set to come in the next few weeks, details are beginning to emerge regarding the way the Summerland Steam will start the season off. 

They will hold their main camp August 26&27, by invite only, at the Summerland Arena. They’ll then play two exhibition games against their fiercest rivals, the Osoyoos Coyotes, on September 1st and 2nd. Though just exhibition games, blood runs hot between the Steam and the Coyotes at the best of times. After playing 50+ times including exhibition and playoffs over the past four years, and with the Coyotes sweeping the Steam from the 2016/17 playoffs, it’s safe to assume it won’t take long for the rivalry to heat up once again. 

The last time the two teams played a mini-series of exhibition games, it was in advance of the 2015/16 season. Each team won a game by a 4-2 score and fans were entertained by fast, physical hockey that included three fights, and over 100 minutes in penalties.

Those two exhibition games will be held September 1st, Friday, at the Sun Bowl Arena, and September 2nd, Saturday, at the Summerland Arena. 

Once rosters are solidified, the two teams won’t see each other until September 29th. The Steam will start their season with six straight games against the Doug Birks Division. They’ll play eight of their first ten regular season games against teams outside their division, with the only inter-divisional games coming September 29 at home to Osoyoos, and September 30 in Rutland against the Kelowna Chiefs.

It’s apparent that if Summerland wants a good chance at a division crown again in 2017/18, they’ll have to get a good start. That means they’ll have to continue the trend of playing well against the other division in the conference.  If the team’s play outside their division is similar to the 2016/17 season, they’ll get off to the start they want without any trouble. Last year they were 12-2-1-0 against the combination of Chase, 100 Mile House, Kamloops, Revelstoke and Sicamous, and carried a +36 goal differential through those 15 contests.

Play against division rivals is what wins you the division, but bonus points coming from beyond are what keep you in the hunt in one of the toughest divisions in Canadian Junior B hockey.

Last season, Summerland lost 9 games in regulation all season long and finished second in that very tough division. They got at least a point in 25 of their 32 divisional games, a points percentage of .781%, and finished second. That tells you how tough the division is, and will be again in 2017/18.

The full schedule should be available on the KIJHL website in the coming weeks, and we’ll know more at that time about how the full schedule shakes out, but for now we know that Summerland will open the season on home ice, against the 100 Mile House Wranglers on Friday, September 8th at 7:30pm 

 

KIJHL AGM Produces Changes to BC Junior B Hockey 

News from KIJHL meetings in June is seeing sweeping changes to postseason play in BC Junior B Hockey. 

The grind of playoffs, particularly in the KIJHL, has been much maligned and well documented over the last several years, with all roads leading to the Cyclone Taylor Cup. From there, the winner gained entry into the Keystone Cup, the Western Canadian Championship tournament, and hopped on what was always either a flight or a VERY long bus ride one, two, or sometimes even three provinces to the west. 

All three BC based Junior B Leagues, Vancouver Island’s VIJHL, the Lower Mainland’s PIJHL, and the interior based KIJHL have voted unanimously to drop participation in the Keystone Cup for the 2017/18 season. 

This means that British Columbia will not have a representative at the 2018 Western Canadian Championships, and that everybody’s season will end no later than the annual Cyclone Taylor Cup provincial championship tournament held in early April. 

To the casual fan, this looks like a bad thing. To those involved with the teams vying for spots in these tournaments, it’s seen as a good thing. Not only is the Keystone Cup tournament a taxing grind to get to from a playing standpoint, it’s even less viable from a money standpoint. It’s been well noted in the past that teams lose thousands and thousands of dollars in pursuit of a Western Canadian Championship, and the leagues have finally voted to end that trend. 

The changes made by the PIJHL, VIJHL, and KIJHL not only have an effect on the Western Canadian Championship front, but on the league playoff front as well. For the KIJHL, they’ll go back to all four rounds being best-of 7, after testing a year or two of a 7-7-5-5 format. The split format was much-maligned across the league, particularly this past season when the KIJHL voted to eliminate the crossover between conferences. This meant that the two teams playing in the league final would be seeing each other for the first time, and only had 5 games to try and win a championship. 

The league voted last year for no crossover based on cost, and did so as a two year trial. They also voted to shorten the season to 47 games from 52, to try and limit 3-game weekends as well as mid-week games. The 2017/18 season will mark the second year of the agreed upon deal, and the matter will be brought up again at the AGM next June ahead of the 2018/19 season. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the league bring the crossover back into play, and go back to a 52 game schedule. 

Tamminga Signs Letter Of Commitment For 2017/18

The Summerland Steam Junior Hockey Club is proud to announce that former Affiliate Player Bailey Tamminga, 17, has signed a letter of commitment to the Steam for the 2017/18 season. 

Bailey spent the past two seasons in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League in the Okanagan Hockey Academy Program. The Penticton, BC native played 63 games in red and white over two season split between the Elite 15 program and the Midget Prep program. He tallied three goals and twenty-five points in those 63 games, while only accumulating 44 total penalty minutes. 

Bailey is a solid defender with a good, physical style of play, and will be a welcomed addition to the Summerland blue line as a full time player in 2017/18. In 8 games during the 2016/17 season as an affiliate player, including two in the playoffs, Tamminga was put in all situations by Head Coach John Depourcq and his staff. These situations included key moments in close games, special teams situations, and head to head match-ups, and Tamminga excelled. 

He showed a steady enough presence to play dependable defensive minutes no matter the situation he was put in. Head Coach John Depourcq didn’t hesitate to use Tamminga late in games, or against another team’s top offensive line. This included two games in the playoffs against the Kelowna Chiefs where Tamminga continually went head to head with the line of Brett Witala, Jason Village and Josh Kobelka, and did well to limit them on the scoresheet. 

“Bailey was a huge asset to our team as an affiliate player last season, and we’re very excited to have him full time for the 2017/18 season,” says Head Coach John Depourcq, “The Okanagan Hockey Academy Program has done wonders for Bailey in his development over the past two seasons, and we’re very happy to have a mutual commitment with him for 2017/18.”

Tamminga will be a welcomed addition to a Summerland blue line that will lose a lot of grit prior to the start of the 2017/18 season. With veteran defensemen Alex Williams and Calvin Hadley moving on to life after junior hockey, Tamminga will be looked upon to provide a physical presence and more of the strong defensive dependability he showed as an affiliate last season. 

“Bailey’s style of play certainly catches people’s attention,” continued Depourcq, “He’s a guy that isn’t afraid to battle for the puck or use his body to create time and space for himself and his teammates, as well as take it away from his opponents. This year with Grizz (Williams) and Hads (Hadley) moving on, we’re going to need some grit back there, and we think Bailey provides that as well as a ton of other positive qualities. He skates well, he thinks the game at a high level and he’ll be a very welcomed addition to the Summerland Steam for 2017/18”

He’ll be part of a defense corps that could include a few familiar faces. With Cole Williams, Scott Robinson, and Brogan Lautard eligible to return for their 20-year old seasons, and Matt Alcorn set to take a big step forward in his 2nd year in the KIJHL (should he return), the Steam look to be in very good shape on the back end heading into the 2017/18 season.

They’ll likely open the KIJHL season on the weekend of September 8th-10th, but the official schedule has not been made public as of yet. Expect that to come in the next few weeks, as well as more information on the structure of playoffs after the 2017 KIJHL AGM this past weekend.

Depourcq Returns For 6th Season Behind Steam Bench

The biggest reason for the success of the Summerland Steam Junior Hockey Club is returning for a 6th Season behind the bench. On Sunday the organization announced the return of Head Coach John Depourcq for the 2017/18 season, his 6th consecutive season behind the bench for the red, black and white. 

Coming off the most successful season in franchise history from a win percentage standpoint in 2016/17, Depourcq and his staff are primed to have another good team this season. With 15 players eligible for return, and several promising prospects identified at Spring Camp in April, Depourcq and General Manager Mike Rigby will have some very good roster options when September rolls around. 

Coach Depourcq along with assistants Carter Rigby, Jordan McCallum, and Olli Dickson led the Steam to 34 wins and a .723% win percentage during the 2016/17 regular season. That 34th regular season win in was number 150 for Depourcq in five seasons with the organization, marking a type of success that not many can duplicate. 

The team finished second in the division for the third time in five years, and made the playoffs for the fifth straight season. Unfortunately the regular season success was halted in the playoffs as the Steam bowed out to the Osoyoos Coyotes in the Division Final after a gruelling 7 game series against the Kelowna Chiefs.

More importantly than the win percentage, the Steam wound up with an .808% points percentage, meaning they picked up points in 38 of their 47 regular season games last season. Depourcq and his systems are a large reason why the organization has been so successful, and the organization is excited to have such a key piece back in the fold for 2017/18.

“We’re extremely pleased to have John back for another year with this great organization” says General Manager Mike Rigby, “Coach Depourcq has been a monumental part of this organization for the past five seasons and we are very pleased to have him back with us for another season. 

John brings a winning attitude and many great attributes to the table for this team, and a certain level of class and respect for both his players and his peers that is rarely found. He is a great mentor, and helps our players in all aspects of their game, both on and off the ice. He is a big part of our success.”

Rigby, after five seasons with the Steam as their Director of Player Development and Assistant GM, will move into the GM’s chair on a full-time basis for the 2017/18 KIJHL Season. It will be his first season in the role, after assuming Interim GM status for a part of the 2016/17 season.  He and the coaching staff will work together over the next several months to ensure that the organization can continue to be successful both on the ice and in the community in years to come.

Steam Wrap Up Season With Year End Awards

📸 Jen Jensen Photography 

As they always do, the Summerland Steam wrapped up their season with a celebration last week, to honour their outgoing 20 year olds as well as their 2016/17 award winners. 

Whether it’s at the beginning of March or at the end, the benchmark of a great playoff run, the Summerland Steam do this every year. In front of fans, billets, parents and volunteers, the coaching staff and management team acknowledged the accomplishments of their players throughout what was one of the most successful seasons in team history. 

They finished 34-9-1-3, second in their division. They tied a franchise record for wins in a season at 34, and set new win percentage (.725%) and points percentage (.808%) records. They finished the highest they ever have in fourth across the 20 team KIJHL as well as second in the conference, trailing only the Osoyoos Coyotes during the regular season.

The Steam and it’s staff will be looking to improve their team for the 2017/18 campaign, starting with Spring Camp on April 7-9, 2017 at the Summerland Arena. With the potential to bring back five players born in 1997 as 20-year olds in 2017/18, Head Coach John Depourcq automatically starts with a great core group of players. Should they choose to return to play their final year, that group includes Cole Williams, Braden Eliuk, Steven Fiust, Brogan Lautard, Scott Robinson and 2016/17 team MVP Matt Huber.

Provided Coach Depourcq returns again for another season, he’ll have the makings of a pretty good hockey team to start with. There will definitely be some uncertainty, as there always is in Junior B, but come September the Steam should be a team that once again is in the running for a division championship. 

They do have some players that could move on to Jr A in the likes of Ben Dietrich-Scammell, Everett Scherger, Morey Babakaiff and Mike MacLean, but you never know until you get your team together for camp in September. For now they go their separate ways, but not before we hand out some hardware. 

Here are your 2016/17 Award Winners:
Most Valuable Player – Matt Huber

📸Victoria Rich Photography 

There isn’t much more to be said about ‘Hubs’ than the three letters M.V.P. He was just that for the Steam this season, and they were very lucky to have him. He carried a heavy workload this season, starting 36 of Summerland’s 47 games. He maintained a 2.66 goals against average and .907% save percentage on route to 24 wins, the most by a goaltender in Steam history. The 24 win record set by Huber in 2016/17 is better than the previous record by 3, a record of 21 held by Matt’s older brother Brett, who now plays for the Selkirk Saints of the BCIHL.
Most Valuable Player (Playoffs) – Wyatt Gale 

This year’s playoff MVP in my opinion came down to two players. The guy who stopped the pucks, Matt Huber, or the guy who continued to put them in the back of the opposing net, Wyatt Gale. In the playoffs, if you needed a goal or your team needed a boost, Gale was there. He averaged more than a point per game in the playoffs, and scored the series clinching goal in Game 7 of the first round against the Kelowna Chiefs. Against the Osoyoos Coyotes, he was the best player on a team that had little to no fight left in them, and scored in all but one game of the series.

Top Scorer – Riley Pettitt 

📸Victoria Rich Photography 

2016/17’s Top Scorer is Riley Pettitt. Talented from head to toe, Pettitt led Summerland with 65 points this season, tying him for 2nd on the All-time list for Points in a Single Season with assistant coach Jordan McCallum. Pettitt also finishes his KIJHL career with 81 assists, one behind former teammate and Steam captain Paulsen Lautard for first on the franchise’s all time list. 

Most nights Pettitt was the best player for the Summerland Steam, and he’ll be missed along with the four other graduating 20-year olds as they move on to life after the KIJHL. 

Top Defenseman – Cole Williams 

📸Victoria Rich Photography 

Bar none, Cole Williams was Summerland’s best and most consistent Defenseman during the 2016/17 season. There was no other logical choice but to name ‘C-Dub’ the 2016/17 Top Defenseman, because he was just that. He gave the team reliable minutes all season long, played in every situation, and put up some points in the process. 

*Just my Opinion* but if Cole returns for the 2017/18 season, it would not surprise me to see the ‘C’ on his chest on September 9 when the season opens. Of course, that’s a decision for Head Coach John Depourcq and his staff, but C-Dub would be my pick.

Rookie of the Year – Everett Scherger 

📸Victoria Rich Photography 

Rookie of the Year had to be a tough one for the coaching staff to choose. They had (in my mind) THREE options to chose from, and I think they made the correct choice in naming Everett Scherger the 2016/17 Rookie of the Year. Scherger’s puck pursuit all season long was something that made him extremely hard to play against, and his assets were missed when he was out of the lineup. Playing most of the season on a line with Josh Pilon and Steven Fiust, Scherger had the opportunity to play with great players and help create offense by way of his relentless forechecking ability. He made the most of it collecting 12 goals and 10 assists for 22 points, along with 61 penalty minutes in 40 Games.

Let the record show that my other two candidates for the Rookie of the Year were Morey Babakaiff and Ben Dietrich-Scammell. 

Most Improved – Morey Babakaiff
 

In my opinion this was probably the easiest choice there was to make as far as the awards were concerned. Morey Babakaiff was chosen as the 2016/17 Most Improved Player, and he definitely was without a shadow of a doubt. After collecting three assists in his first two games in the KIJHL, Babakaiff endured a bit of a rough patch as he got acclimated to life in junior hockey. Playing against bigger, stronger, older players for the first time in his hockey life, Babakaiff really began to come around in late November. It wasn’t on the scoreboard, but in all other areas including the defensive zone. As games passed it was easy to see the confidence building, and we all knew that eventually once he popped his first KIJHL goal the dam would burst. It did on December 10th in 100 Mile House, where Babakaiff notched his first KIJHL goal. From there he began to roll, collecting 15 points in his final 17 games of the season, and was selected to the 2017 KIJHL Top Prospects Showcase where he collected an assist on January 14th. 

Babakaiff was well deserving of the Most Improved Player award in 2016/17, and the Steam will be very lucky if they get him back for another year before making the jump to Jr. A.

Fan Favourite – Calvin Hadley 

📸 Cathy York

For the second year in a row, Calvin Hadley was named the Fan Favourite. The young man affectionately known as ‘Hads’ is always a hit with the fans, in the dressing room, and out in the community. That huge smile that’s become the Hadley trademark over the past 3.5 years simply draws people to him, and the Steam will miss him as he graduates from the KIJHL and moves on to life after Junior Hocke. 

Most Sportsmanlike – Brogan Lautard

📸Victoria Rich Photography 

As a Defenseman in the KIJHL, it isn’t easy to give your team quality minutes without taking a share of penalties. It takes a very special, and very responsible hockey player to do so, and Brogan Lautard is that player. He played all 47 games for the Steam this season, collecting 3 goals and 10 assists, and just 16 penalty minutes while being a defensive specialist and exquisite penalty killer. He played big minutes against tough competition this season, and did so responsibly and smartly on his way to being one of Summerland’s Top Defenseman this season. 

Now  for the tough one..

There is always one award that isn’t given out on Awards Night, but awarded afterwards to the player who displays himself as the ‘Unsung Hero’ of sorts. The Broadcaster’s Choice Award is an award created by myself and the broadcast team, awarded to the player we think displays a mix of skill, grit, and leadership that a team cannot go without. There were a couple of choices we had to choose from this year, including Alex Williams, Steven Fiust, and Ben Dietrich-Scammell, but when we sat down to think about it there was only one choice. 

Broadcaster’s Choice Award : Jarrett Malchow

📸Victoria Rich Photography 

For three straight years, Jarrett Malchow has been one of the most important pieces to the Summerland Steam. It’s not often you find a player who will do whatever it takes to help the team in any area, on the ice or off of it, every single night. Malchow was that guy. He was in the room looking to make a difference whether his gear was strapped on or not. 

When on the ice he’s a fierce competitor, and a guy that will give you everything he’s got on every shift, no matter what. Off the ice he was a part of the leadership group in 2016/17, and wasn’t afraid to say what needed to be said regardless of circumstance.

Accountability is something that’s lost on a lot of KIJHL players, and people in general in this day and age,  but Malchow has enough of it for a whole handful of people. If he made a mistake, he owned it. If the team needed him in a big moment, he was there. Take for instance the guts and leadership it took for him to return for Game 4 of the second round, and play through what very well could have been a season ending injury. 

He could have called it at that time. That could have been it, but that’s not how Jarrett Malchow operates. Instead he fought his way back and suited up for what would be his final junior hockey game, Game 4 against the Osoyoos Coyotes. Malchow stood next to his Yukon Linemates for the national anthem, and gave everything he had left in the tank to try and extend the Steam’s season by even one game. 

That speaks to the character of the kid they call ‘Chow’, and that’s why he’s our 2016/17 Broadcaster’s Choice Award winner.

After all the awards go out and things begin to settle in for the off season, the Steam will have a pretty large void to fill as their five 20-year old players move on to life after hockey. I’d like to personally say thank you to all of them, Calvin Hadley, Alex Williams, Wyatt Gale, Riley Pettitt and Jarrett Malchow. It’s not often you have a core group like this one. One that’s played together for three full seasons and gone to hell and back together many times. It’s been a lot of fun to watch them play hockey, and we hope they stay in touch and around the rink as much as possible in the near future. 

Steam Swept Out of Second Round

📸 Jen Jensen Photography 

It’s been a long year grinding it out in the KIJHL’s Okanagan Divison. That was never more evident than the second round of the KIJHL playoffs, where the Summerland Steam were swept by the Osoyoos Coyotes in four straight games. After battling injury and illness all season to the tune of a 34-9-1-3 record, the Steam simply had nothing left in the tank after a 7 game gem against the Kelowna Chiefs in Round 1.

Missing bodies (and energy) with only two days off between series’, it looked like the Steam may steal one of the two games in Osoyoos to start the series. They did well to stick with the Coyotes and force overtime in Game 1 and hung on for dear life through nearly 23:00 of overtime, but Austin Cleaver eventually scored to pick up the victory for the Yotes. 

Much of the same was the case in Game 2, less the overtime. The Coyotes got up early, Summerland did well to come back and tie, but the first place and well rested Coyotes were just too much for the second place Steam. 

Game 3 was the turning point of the series, from my point of view. That was the game that I could tell the engine was running on fumes, and Summerland gave it a HELL of an effort despite being banged up worse than even I knew. At the start of Game 3 on Friday night in Summerland, it looked like the Steam were ready to make this a long series. By the end, you could tell they didn’t have much left in the tank. 

They came out like they were shot from a cannon in Game 3, going up 2-0 just 7 minutes into the hockey game. They looked like they might make this thing a series for a while, going up 4-2 after the Coyotes came back to tie. The Yotes would come back to tie again, and eventually take a 6-4 victory on two goals in the final 7 minutes of the game to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. 

In Game 3 the penalty kill, a pillar of strength for the Steam all season long and the best one in the league, allowed the Coyotes to score four times on six opportunities. If you want to win hockey games that can’t happen, and it ended up being the turning point of the series. 

The penalty kill would ail them again in Game 4, giving up the series winning goal to Coyotes forward Judd Repole on the powerplay with just over five minutes remaining in the second period. They made an effort to jumpstart a comeback in the third period, but it just wasn’t meant to be. 

The Coyotes did a great job to shut Summerland down in these four games, and when Summerland did get things going in the Coyotes zone goaltender Adam Jones was there to come up big when necessary. The Yotes stuck to their system, and used their strengths to their advantage in this series against a tired Summerland team who was worn out from the grind of a 7 game series in Round 1.

It pays to get round 1 finished as soon as possible, and the Coyotes did so in sweeping the North Okanagan Knights. They earned their days off, and used them wisely to rest up while Summerland and Kelowna beat the crap out of each other all the way to the end of Game 7. 

The Coyotes move on to the Okanagan Shuswap Final, a Best of 5 series against the winners of the Doug Birks Division, the Chase Heat. The Heat won their way to the conference Final after a 4-2 victory in Game 6 against the Kamloops Storm on Sunday. 

For the Steam they’ll pack their bags, some for the final time, and head out after the awards banquet this week. It will be especially tough to say goodbye to this group of players, including the five 20 year olds who we’ve watched grow up for the past three or four seasons. 

Alex Williams, the captain of this year’s edition of the Summerland Steam, will say goodbye after four seasons as one of the most rugged defenders the KIJHL has ever seen. Calvin Hadley will also move on to life after the KIJHL, having spent the past 3.5 seasons in red, white and black. 

The Yukon Line will also move on to life after the KIJHL. While the departure of Jarrett Malchow, Riley Pettitt, and Wyatt Gale may be a happy sign to most of the players and teams that had to play against them for the past three seasons, it will surely be a sad day for the Summerland Steam. From the moment the three arrived from Whitehorse, Yukon, the Steam knew they had something special.

Pettitt, Gale, and Malchow, who’ve played together for the majority of their hockey playing lives, wreaked havoc on the KIJHL from the moment they set foot in it. They combined to play 288 games in white, black and red, amassing 130 goals, 196 assists, and 610 penalty minutes. Gale and Pettitt finish in the Top 5 in franchise history in goals, while Pettitt sits second in assists with 81, a single assist behind former teammate and captain Paulsen Lautard. Pettitt also sits second to teammate and fellow graduating player Calvin Hadley on the Steam’s All-time list for penalty minutes. Hadley leads Pettitt by more than 100 in this category at 470.

The Yukon Line’s ability to know where one another are on the ice is seen an asset even before you get into their relentless forechecking ability or their ability to create offense from what looks like nothing at all. 

They’ve been leaders on this team since the time they arrived here, and they’ll be missed when the start of the 2017/18 KIJHL season opens in September. I hope they’ll leave with as fond of memories as they leave us with, because they’ve been a joy to watch and interact with all the way through.

The team will wrap up the 2016/17 season on Wednesday evening with an awards celebration at the I.O.O.F Hall in downtown Summerland. They will hold a meet and greet with the players at 6:30, and awards from 7-9pm. All fans are encouraged to attend, with admission being a small donation at the door on the way in. 

Coyotes ‘Hold Serve’ With 2 Wins At Home

📸 Victoria Rich Photography 

It’s an outcome that people familiar with these two hockey teams would expect. The Osoyoos Coyotes, the top team in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference this season, were able to ‘hold serve’ against the visiting Summerland Steam, the second place team in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference,  and take a 2-0 series lead with two wins on home ice. After six days off and being able to sit comfortably while watching Summerland and Kelowna wear each other down, the Coyotes were ready to play on Tuesday night. 

So was Summerland. 

After a grueling 7 game series with the Kelowna Chiefs that ended with a dagger from Wyatt Gale, Summerland moved on to round two and the waiting Osoyoos Coyotes. Though surely tired from the long haul with Kelowna, the Steam showed up with nearly their best in Game 1.

The two teams got underway Tuesday at the Sun Bowl Arena in Osoyoos, and played one of the best games of the season. They went back and forth all night long before finally finding a winner almost halfway through the 11pm hour after 22:13 of overtime. 

Mike MacLean got the scoring started in the Okanagan Divison Final, banging a loose puck past Coyotes’ goaltender Adam Jones just prior to the eight minute mark of the first period of Game 1. 

The Steam would hold the lead into the final minute of the period, when Austin Cleaver was the beneficiary of a good bounce off a blocked shot. On the power play, Cleaver was able to find a puck that had fallen straight to him, and make a shot over Steam starter Matt Huber to tie the game at 1 with :46 left in the first frame. 

The score would stay tied at one through the middle 20 minutes, although both teams had chances to untie the score. The entirety of the game was fast, high skill hockey with a little physical play mixed in just to keep things interesting. 

Scott Robinson would in fact untie the score just 1:05 into the third period. On a power play, Robinson would take a pass off the rush on the left wing side, and beat Adam Jones to give the Steam a 2-1 lead. That lead would last :53 seconds before Coyotes captain Dan Stone would pot a powerplay goal of his own, locating a long rebound to the right of Matt Huber and slamming it into the back of the net. 

Carter Robinson would then get the Coyotes their first lead of the game, scoring just 2:45 into the third period before things settled a little bit.

Summerland’s Konsta Jaske would tie the game at three just prior to the halfway point of the third period, sending a fluttering slap shot on net from the blue line. Jones simply whiffed on it in the Coyotes net, and all of a sudden we had ourselves a 3-3 tie. 

Judd Repole would then get lucky at the other end. After driving deep into Summerland territory, Repole threw a puck out front of the net. It ended up bouncing through Huber, giving the Coyotes their lead back with 8:14 to play. 

The score would stay that way into the dying moments, despite a big push from Summerland. Wyatt Gale would finally break through and score with 1:14 remaining, locating a loose puck in the goal crease and tying the game at 4.

Just like that, we were set up for a little (or a lot of) overtime. Through the first 10 minutes it was all Coyotes. They outshot the Steam, who looked to be wearing, by a 9-2 margin. After the flood, we started 20:00 of 2ot, and it took 12:13 before we had a winner.

The winner was the Osoyoos Coyotes, courtesy of Austin Cleaver’s second of the game. After Austin Steger moved the puck into Summerland territory, he sent a puck towards the net front. Cleaver was there to direct it on net where Matt Huber made the first stop, but Cleaver poked in the rebound to give the Coyotes a 1-0 series lead. 

They would take their 2-0 series lead on Wednesday night in a Game 2 that was much less exciting. Summerland was better than the previous night, and Osoyoos was worse, but they got the same result thanks to Adam Jones tending their goal.

Connor Onstein would open the scoring in Game 2 for the Coyotes, driving wide on a Summerland defender and beating Matt Huber with a backhand shot 5-hole. By Huber’s reaction, something tells me he wanted it back, but it wasn’t the difference in the hockey game. If he felt he should have stopped it, he’s definitely built up some equity in the past three weeks. 

The score would stay 1-0 in the Coyotes favour until the middle of the second period. That’s when Riley Pettitt and Wyatt Gale went to work on the forecheck. They were able to pry the puck loose, and Gale walked out into the circle with it. He was able to find some space, and went bar down over the left shoulder of Adam Jones to tie the game at one. 

Like so many times before, the Coyotes used their powerplay to make the difference in the game. Jackson Glimpel would score on a tip in front of Matt Huber in the late stages of the second period, giving the Coyotes a 2-1 lead that they would nurse home to victory. 

Summerland was good again in this game, and I’d say for the second game in a row they were good enough to win. Adam Jones was the difference for the Yotes, standing tall under pressure and making key saves on some very good Summerland opportunities.

The Steam will use the first of just two off days in this series on Thursday to try and find new ways to beat the Coyotes keeper before Game 3 on Friday night.

Being down 2-0 in this series shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone. The home team is supposed to win on home ice and if the road team can steal one early in a series, it’s a big bonus to play with. Summerland was just about able to steal two.

The “official” shots on goal in Osoyoos would tell you otherwise, but these two games were tight. The official shots from the two games in Osoyoos saw the Coyotes outshoot the Steam 102-68, and I can promise you that those numbers are wildly incorrect based on my shot charts. Yes, I keep shot charts for every game, and I had the shots much closer at 89-77 Coyotes, which reflects the way these two games were played, tightly. 

I don’t believe I’ve seen a single game in my tenure where the road team has outshot the Coyotes on home ice, whether that road team is the Kelowna Chiefs, Princeton Posse, Kamloops Storm, or the Summerland Steam.

These two games were super tight, and super entertaining. From a fan point of view, I hope we get a few more of those before this series ends. I don’t think any member of either team will admit it, but I think there’s a mutual respect for the talent on each side between these two teams. We’ve seen very little post-whistle extra curricular activity in these first two games, and no egregious penalties or really any penalties at all. That’s a good sign.

Summerland will look to turn the tables with their home ice this weekend, although they may still be a little banged up. 

They’ve been a bit undermanned so far in this series. They’ve played the first two games of the series without Braden Eliuk or Jarrett Malchow, and it remains to be seen if either will be able to play Friday in Game 3. It is also a possibility that they’ll be without Mike MacLean on Friday night, due to another (soft) hit to the head penalty. 

If I were to make up a video reel of every hit to the head penalty accrued by MacLean this season, there might be two out of six that were warranted. The other four are called solely because of his size compared to the player he hit, A.K.A., ‘big guy penalties’. It’s really a shame that the referees across the league aren’t able to differentiate, because the constant threat of penalty and suspension can take away from a kid’s game very quickly. MacLean was great in the first two games of this series, and hopefully he’ll be able to continue his strong play alongside Wyatt Gale and Riley Pettitt as this series continues.

One thing to hope for if you’re the Summerland Steam is for a couple lines to get hot. Gale and Pettitt with whoever they play with will surely ‘drive the bus’ for the Steam, but the support system has to be there if they want to get back in this series. Head Coach John Depourcq has A LOT of talent to work with on his bench, even missing a couple marquee forwards, but it’ll be up to the players to make their talent work for them and pick up a couple of wins on home ice. 

Game 3 and 4 shift to Summerland on Friday and Saturday nights. Friday is a regular 7:30pm start time with our Pre-game show going at 7:15. Saturday night will be a special 7:55 start time, so our pre-game show will start at 7:40.

Steam Ready For Clash With Coyotes 

The season series between the Summerland Steam and the Osoyoos Coyotes was interesting. Summerland went 3-4-0-1 against the Coyotes this season, but held leads late in two of those four losses. Both teams, giants in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference, will surely make things as difficult as possible for the other as this series gets underway. 

I’m going to keep this short and sweet because there’s no sense beating it to death. If Summerland wants to win this series and move on, there needs to be 3 things done:
1) Keep the Coyotes off the powerplay

2) Discipline not only in staying out of the box, but also inside the systems that have been taught. 

3) Bring your work boots. Simple as that. 
Buckle up, because this one is going to be a fun one. Game 1 goes tonight, 7:35 from the Sun Bowl Arena in the desert. Have a look at the full schedule, and PLEASE NOTE, the special start time for Game 4 on Saturday night. 

Huber, Steam Come Up Clutch in Game 7 Victory 

📸 Jen Jensen Photography

What a difference a night and a circumstance can make. After getting beaten handily by the Kelowna Chiefs to the tune of 6-0 in Game 6, both the Chiefs and the Summerland Steam knew what was at stake. With the series tied 3-3, it came down to a Game 7 in a neutral environment to decide who would move on to face the Osoyoos Coyotes in the Okanagan Divison Final.

Game 7’s are the best spectacle in sports. When everything is on the line it seems to bring the best out of people, and teams, as they try to extend their season. This game seven, however, was unique in that it took place in a building that was largely unfamiliar to both parties. The game was played at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton due to the District of Summerland working on their water system, making the ice unavailable at the Summerland Arena.

What we saw on Saturday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre was truly spectacular, and unlike any other game in this series. We saw two teams who absolutely did not want to go home, and brought their best to the table to try and get the job done. We had the privilege of watching them battle down to the very final second before we had a winner, and it was nothing short of exceptional to watch.

In front of a Steam record crowd of over 650, the home team opened the scoring with just :19 remaining in the first period. Steam defenseman Cole Williams would do a great job to get the puck deep into the Kelowna zone, where Morey Babakaiff skated onto it in the corner. Babakaiff found Calvin Rout in the slot, who out waited a Chiefs defender before finding a lane to shoot. Using Babakaiff as a screen, Rout was able to make a perfect shot low to the blocker side of Chiefs goaltender Brandon Gaucher, going post and in to give the Steam a 1-0 advantage.

They would take that advantage to the dressing room after out shooting the Chiefs 13-6 in the first frame, expecting a big push from the Chiefs in the second. The Chiefs would get that push, forcing Steam goaltender Matt Huber to stand tall in the Summerland crease for much of the rest of the game. The Steam did a great job for most of the night in front of their own net, clearing out rebounds before they became secondary scoring opportunities for the Chiefs. Several times it looked like the Chiefs would have wide open nets on rebounds, only to get beaten to the puck by a Steam stick by just a half second.

As good as his defence was in front of him, this night belonged to Matt Huber. After a rough go (his team was NOT very good) in games 4&6, Huber proved in Game 7 what he’s all about. He did well to control his rebounds and battled through anything that Kelowna brought his way, which was exactly what Summerland needed to win the biggest game or the year. Huber was excellent in this hockey game, particularly in the second period when Summerland got into a little penalty trouble.

Three straight penalties in the back half of the second period forced Summerland to the penalty kill for the better part of an eight minute stretch. In that stretch, Huber made four saves he had no business making to keep the score at a 1-0 Summerland lead. These saves included two that had him spinning around to dive to the other side to get to a Chiefs’ player camped out at the ‘back door’, and earned him a rousing cheer from the large crowd at the SOEC.

📸 Jen Jensen Photography

Wyatt Gale did score in the second period, a leaker through the wickets of Brandon Gaucher, but it was waved off by referee Brent Hazel due to a quick whistle.

Gale would get one that counted with about twelve minutes remaining in the third period to put Summerland up by two, proving to stand as the series clinching goal. After a turnover was forced behind the Chiefs’ net, Mike MacLean found Steven Fiust. Fiust had time and space for a shot, but instead found Gale open in front for the tap in to give the Steam the two goal cushion.

gale-okanagan-news

Once up by two it was defensive shell  time for the Summerland Steam. They didn’t press, they didn’t defend aggressively, but simply stuck to their positions and let the Chiefs come to them. They used good stick checks and strong bodies to separate the Chiefs from pucks, and were able to clear the zone out of danger just enough times.

The Chiefs did beat Huber once, a Jason Village shot from in tight after a pass from Josh Kobelka. After an extremely long shift hemmed in their own zone, Summerland was unable to change their D pair. They were stuck, and the Chiefs top line took advantage of one of the only blown 5on5 coverages in the game to get on the board with just over seven minutes remaining.

After making it 2-1 the Chiefs really cranked up the heat, but Summerland stood tall. Good sticks, good bodies, and good clears from the zone helped them take Game 7 and move on to the Okanagan Divison Final for the third straight year.

📸Jen Jensen Photography

In the dressing room after the game, you’d never have guessed these players had played 7 of the most physical games of the season in the last 9 days. They were all smiles, beaming with pride, and ready for round 2.

They deserve it.

They worked hard for that series victory, and faced a little adversity along the way. I was once told “Good teams find a way to win,” and Summerland did in this series against Kelowna. It wasn’t easy, and they had to ‘win ugly’ a couple of times to make it happen, but they persevered through it all and came up big when it mattered most.

The Kelowna Chiefs didn’t play like a team that finished in third place by 27 points in this series. They played hard, physical, and right down to the bitter end in a game that could have gone either way. Congratulations to the Chiefs on a good season and an unbelievable playoff series. The Chiefs found ways to win without key cogs in their lineups at times, and I don’t think there was a question at ANY point in this series that Jason Village was continually their best player and their MVP in this series. The 18-year old from North Vancouver, BC, along with linemates Brett Witala and Josh Kobelka were the ones to carry the offensive load for the Chiefs through 7 games. Village led the way with 7 goals and 11 points while Witala, Kobelka and defenseman Joel Scrimbit each tallied 9 points. Village in particular was good in all 200 feet of ice, night in and night out, and after a very strong regular season, the Chiefs will get lucky if they get him back next season. It will be likely with numbers and intangibles like that, Village will no doubt catch on in Junior A somewhere in Western Canada if he so chooses, and will be successful in his endeavor based on his character and skill level.

The Chiefs power play really came alive in this playoff series after going just 1/46 during the eight game regular season series. In the seven game playoff series the Chiefs powerplay converted nine times on 37 opportunities, which converts to a percentage at nearly  45%. The Chiefs used their size and grit to make things difficult for the Summerland Steam in every square foot of ice that was up for grabs, and almost stole the thing in Game 7.

Yes, there was some nastiness to this series. On both sides. In Game 2 Calvin Hadley removed Chiefs goaltender Tanner Marshall from the series after taking a major penalty for goaltender interference. Hadley was subsequently suspended three games for the incident.

In Game 3 Brendan Mongey made a Kronwall-esque hit on Riley Pettitt in the middle of the ice, receiving a five minute major for head contact and subsequent two game suspension for his actions.

And those were just the majors.

In Game 4 Mike MacLean laid a clean open ice hit on Ryan Pereverzoff that knocked Pereverzoff from the remainder of the series. I was hoping to see Pereverzoff return to the series, as I really enjoy watching him play. He’s a big kid with good speed and a rocket of a shot, and he’s committed to the Univerity of Jamestown Jimmies (ACHA Division I) for the 2017/18 Season.

 

Tyler Love and Tyson Taylor continually got into it with anyone that would engage them all series long. Love played the role of agitator and it worked to a degree, frustrating Summerland into taking some penalties early in the series that they could have done without. Taylor, meanwhile, did the same until he was removed from Game 4 by referee Dustin Minty (for some unknown reason) and suspended three games for accumulated game misconduct penalties by the KIJHL, removing him from the remainder of the series.

There were no niceties exchanged in this hockey series. This is a rivalry that burns hot at the best of times and seems to have the heat turned to max every year when the playoffs come around. It was great to see that for a lot of this series the teams focused on playing hockey, and the best team on any given night picked up victories.

In this series Summerland had to play without one or more key forwards in every game, and every night it was a different guy in the lineup that stepped up and delivered the big performance when it mattered. That’s the mark of a great hockey team, a well coached hockey team, and a hockey team that is ready to do whatever it takes to get to where they want to go.

The Steam took care of business in Game 7 by playing ‘Steam Hockey’. By that I mean they got to work on the fore-check and made life difficult for the opposing defenders, and also bought into the back-check and defensive zone assignments. When that failed them, Matt Huber was there to stand tall, and that’s what you need in the playoffs.

I was especially impressed in this series with Summerland’s Everett Scherger, Calvin Rout and Morey Babakaiff. All three seem to be learning quickly from the veterans on the team how to be effective every single night, and especially how to pursue and retain control of the puck. All three play the game in all 200 feet of the ice, every shift, every time, and that’s what you need during the playoffs.

If you have the time to go on the KIJHL Archive to watch Game 7, it’s worth your time and $5 to watch from start to finish. If you don’t have that kind of time, have a watch over the highlights from Game 7, one hell of a hockey game that was BY FAR the best hockey game of the season between these two teams.

Highlights:

It’s fun to enjoy the victory and take a couple of days off but by the looks on the faces of those boys once Game 7 was over, you could tell that come Tuesday evening it’ll be time to be all business once again. There are obviously some bumps and bruises to heal over the next two days, but they’ll be ready to step on the ice for warm-up at 7:05 Tuesday night in Osoyoos.

For the third straight year the Osoyoos Coyotes are waiting at the end of a long Summerland/Kelowna series, well rested and ready to go after a short series with the fourth place team in the first round. A clash of the conference’s two best teams is the only way hockey fans want to see the Okanagan Division be settled, and it’s sure to be a dandy of a series for the third year in a row.

Keep eyes out for the preview of that series, coming likely sometime Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning prior to a Game 1 7:35pm puck drop in the desert.