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.

Steam, Chiefs Trade Body Blows, Get Set for ‘7th Heaven’ 

After six back and forth, up and down, ‘hit ‘Em in the mouth’ type hockey games to open the KIJHL Playoffs, the Summerland Steam and Kelowna Chiefs are headed to Game 7 for the second time in three seasons. 

One will go on. One will go home.

After Splitting the first four games of this series right down the middle, the Steam and the Chiefs went back to work on Thursday night in Game 5. After losing Game 4 by a 7-4 score that was all Kelowna, all the time, Summerland came out and went to work on the Chiefs in Game 5. They picked up a 6-2 victory and a 3-2 series lead, only to have the Chiefs come back with the counterpunch to the tune of a 6-0 drubbing in Game 6 to tie the series once again. 

That takes us to a Game 7. The best spectacle in sports will take on new life as the scene shifts to somewhat neutral, and much larger ground than any of these players are used to. Due to the work being done on the District of Summerland’s water system, there is no ice available this weekend at the Summerland Arena. Instead the Summerland Steam will play host to a Game 7 against the Kelowna Chiefs at the 5,500 seat South Okanagan Events Centre on Saturday night. Home to the BCHL’s Interior Division Champion and Western Canadian Championship Host Penticton VEES, the SOEC is a beautiful facility. The Vees don’t open the BCHL playoffs at home until March 17th when the second round of the BCHL Playoffs begin, but their building will be used on Saturday night. If the rest of the series is any indication, the Summerland Steam and the Kelowna Chiefs are about to put on a show for any Vees fans not wanting to wait until March 17th to watch playoff hockey. 

In this series thus far we’ve seen two different versions of each of these hockey teams. Both the Steam and the Chiefs have played good hockey AND bad hockey in this series through six games, and you better believe both teams will bring their best on Saturday night. Both will want to set tones early and use their forecheck to create pressure.

Both have shown a propensity to take penalties in this series and if that’s the case on Saturday, the game is in the hands of the Kelowna Chiefs. A Chiefs power play that went 1/46 in the 8 game regular season series has scored at least once in every game of this series, and has looked dangerous. It will be wise for Summerland to play Kelowna at 5v5 as much as possible and keep their emotions in check. 

Summerland will have to contain the line of Jason Village, Brett Witala and Josh Kobelka if they want to win, as they’ve done the bulk of the Chiefs’ scoring through six games.

Likewise, the Chiefs will want to contain the Steam’s Yukon Line for the same reason. It seems whoever has had home ice advantage and the last change in this series has been successful, and utilizing that will be vital in a Game 7 situation. 

The Steam are the “Home Team” for Game 7, though they won’t play the game in their home rink. It will be a different feel, no doubt, but at the end of the day a Game 7 is a Game 7, and all 40 players that dress WILL be ready to go. 
Puck drops from the SOEC IN PENTICTON at 7PM on Saturday night. Joel and I will be working all afternoon to make sure our equipment set up is ready to go so we can put on the best broadcast possible, with the Coastal Eye Clinic Pre-game Show kicking off at 6:45pm.
Strap in, and enjoy all the wonders of Game 7.

Steam Take 2-1 Series Lead After Splitting First Two

📸: Vicky Rich

 

Three very different hockey games have the Summerland Steam out to a 2-1 series lead in their first round series with the Kelowna Chiefs. For the third straight year, the Steam and the Chiefs face off as the 2vs3 matchup in the KIJHL’s Okanagan Division Semi-Final. For the third straight year, the Kelowna Chiefs came out and picked up a victory in Game 1 of the series, in Summerland. This season, they opened the KIJHL playoffs with a 3-2 win that saw them play a perfect road game on the way to victory. They were able to clog the neutral zone, make it difficult for Summerland to get through transition cleanly, and capitalize on their chances when they came up.

The Chiefs top line of Brett Witala, Jason Village, and Josh Kobelka drove the bus for the Chiefs in Game 1, and led them to victory. Brett Witala opened the scoring on a 2-on-1 courtesy of a pass from Jason Village. Witala took it off his skate, without making a kicking motion, and it bounced past Steam goaltender Matt Huber. Ryan Pereverzoff would then make the Chiefs lead 2 on a sharp angle shot over the short-side shoulder before Summerland would mount their comeback.

Riley Pettitt would get the Steam on the board, picking up a rebound and waiting out Chiefs goaltender Tanner Marshall and beating him up high to cut the lead to one before the end of the first period. Early in the second, Jarrett Malchow would take advantage of a Kolten Carpenter turnover, and blast a slapshot over the shoulder of Marshall to tie the game at 2.

It would remain that way until the dying moments, when Witala and Village would strike again on another 2-on-1. This time it was Witala carrying the puck, and he did well to create a rebound off of Matt Huber for Jason Village to bang into an empty cage with 2:10 remaining. The goal would stand as the winner, and the Chiefs would ‘steal’ one in Summerland.

Game 1 Highlights:

In Game 2 it was a much different Steam hockey team. They got off to a good start, opening the scoring courtesy of Wyatt Gale just :50 into the hockey game, and didn’t let the Chiefs control the neutral zone like they did in Game 1. Gale was able to pry a puck loose from traffic behind the goal of Tanner Marshall, make a move out front, and stuff the puck into the net before Marshall was able to pick him up.

Konsta Jaske would then pot a powerplay goal to make it 2-0. After a puck was worked to Braden Eliuk at the left point, he made a cross ice pass to Jaske, who fired a shot that changed direction off a deflection from a Kelowna defender. After changing direction, the puck rolled past Tanner Marshall, who could do nothing but watch helplessly as he slid across the crease.

Josh Kobelka would then get the Chiefs on the board with a powerplay goal of their own before the end of the first period, with just 3:11 remaining, to cut the Steam lead to just a goal at the end of the first period. In the second Summerland added to their lead. Wyatt Gale would net his second of the night after a mad dash up the ice, stepping over the blue line and finding some space to beat Marshall high over the glove for a 3-1 Summerland lead.

After that, with just :51 seconds remaining in the second period, was when the series turned on it’s ear. Prior to this time the series had been a little tentative, with two teams feeling each other out and playing an exciting, end to end style of hockey. At this time though came the first major penalty of the series. It came to Calvin Hadley, as he barreled through the Kelowna goal crease and flattened Tanner Marshall, of course drawing a crowd and starting a melee. Marshall was forced from the game and potentially the series by the hit, which is very unfortunate for the young man who had a terrific season to date for the Chiefs as a 16-year old. Hadley was assessed a 5 minute major for Goaltender Interference, a game misconduct, and a two game suspension for the offence that put the Chiefs (understandably so) on edge.

The Chiefs would get another power play goal early in the third. They cashed in on their 5 minute power play using the same play as their other power play goal in the game, by sending a superb pass to the back door to find the open man. This time that man was Brendan Mongey. Jason Village would draw the primary assist on the goal, making a great pass through traffic to find Mongey at the side. Mongey would bank the puck off of Huber, and into the back of the net to bring the Chiefs back within one.

The third period of course produced more fireworks, as we were sure to see some retribution from the Chiefs for the Hadley run at the end of the second frame. It came in the person of Ryan Pereverzoff, in two instances in a matter of minutes. In the first, Pereverzoff did a good job to chase down a 2-on-1 and break up a potential scoring opportunity for Wyatt Gale. He followed the great play though with an extremely late, malicious check on Gale into the end boards while the puck was being moved out of the Chiefs zone. There was a solid count to four between the time he puck left Gale to the time he got hit, so much so that the puck was so far gon the referee was none the wiser.

Pereverzoff and Andrew York then got tangled up, sat for two minutes, and on his next shift Pereverzoff started a melee in the crease of Matthew Huber. While following through on a shot that found it’s way into the mesh above the glass, Pereverzoff found himself in prime position to give Matt Huber a shot. From a knee while following the shot through, Pereverzoff gave the Summerland goaltender a push in the chest that sent him backwards and started a dust up behind the Summerland net.

With 2:20 to play, an odd time for a play like that to take place with his team down a goal, Pereverzoff sat for just :11 before Summerland capitalized on the power play to give themselves a 4-2 lead with just 2:09 to play. Calvin Rout would be the guy to score the power play goal, his first of the playoffs, as he found a loose puck out front of Brandon Gaucher and stuff it through him. They would hold the lead and win the game by the same score to even the series at 1.

Game 2 Highlights:

 As the series shifted to Game 3 in Rutland, things got a whole different level of heated. Both teams were extremely physical in a game that saw Summerland play the perfect road game this time. They did good work to keep Kelowna’s top tier talent in check, kill any power plays the Chiefs had, and pick up a 3-1 victory to take a 2-1 series lead.

Wyatt Gale opened the scoring with just :26 remaining in the first period, on the power play, as he took a pass off his skate that bounced into the net behind Chiefs starting goaltender Brandon Gaucher. Gaucher, taking the place of the injured Tanner Marshall, was good for the Chiefs in this game but not quite as good as Matt Huber at the other end. Huber allowed just one on this night, a goal to Ryan Pereverzoff early in the second period that tied the game at one.

Morey Babakaiff would score just 2:08 later for Summerland, which would stand as the game winner after the Steam were able to shut the Chiefs down in the back half of the hockey game. Summerland’s Jarrett Malchow would hit an empty net with :11 remaining in the third to round out the scoring, but they had to play the last 15 minutes of the game without one of their top players.

Riley Pettitt would be removed from the game after a stoppage at 14:29 of the third period. With a penalty already coming to Tyson Taylor for Charging on Matt Alcorn, Kelowna’s Brendan Mongey took a 5 minute major for Head Contact and a game misconduct. Pettitt, the victim of the Mongey hit, was bloodied and slow to get up on the play, but did skate off under his own power. It will be interesting to see if Pettitt is able to return to the series for Game 4 tomorrow night in Rutland. Mongey will likely sit for Game 4, as I believe there is a mandatory one game suspension for any major head contact penalty.

Speaking of head contact penalties, Summerland’s Mike MacLean is eligible to return to the Summerland Steam lineup for Game 4 on Tuesday night in Rutland. He’s been missing since February 18th, serving a 3 game suspension that has now run it’s course. MacLean will be a welcome addition to the Steam lineup as they played without Jarrett Malchow in game 2, and Josh Pilon in game 3.

It remains to be seen if Riley Pettitt will play on Game 4 after taking the Mongey hit,  or if Josh Pilon will return from whatever kept him out of game 3. The Steam did, however, get team captain Alex Williams back for Game 3. Grizz saw limited duty, and the coaching staff will ease him back in as he returns from injury. 

Battling sickness and injury is nothing new for the Summerland Steam, and that’s the case right now. They’ll look to build their lead to 3-1 and take the Chiefs to the brink of elimination on Tuesday night in Game 4 from the Rutland Arena. Puck drop is 7pm on Playfullscreen.com with Justin McCartney. 

 

 

Steam Roll Into Playoffs With Pair of Wins

34-9-1-3, 72 points, 2nd in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference.

That’s where the Summerland Steam will finish the 2016/17 KIJHL Season, and they have to be feeling pretty good heading into the first round of the Okanagan Divison playoffs. The Steam finished up one of the most successful seasons in franchise history with a pair of wins on the KIJHL’S final weekend of play, and picked up a third by way of a postponed game not having to be completed.

On Friday night the Steam headed to Princeton for the final time this season, and Braden Eliuk led the way with two goals and an assist in a 4-1 victory. Riley Pettitt also potted a powerplay goal, and Scott Robinson hit an empty net to put it out of reach. Matt Huber made 25 saves in the victory,which would dampen the playoff hopes of the Princeton Posse. They would go head to head the next night with the North Okanagan Knights, needing a win to stay alive, but were beaten 4-2 to end any hope of making the KIJHL Playoffs. 

After being solid on Friday, Matt Huber would get the nod again the next night in Kamloops. He was sensational, particularly in the second period, in a game that saw the two teams combine to be missing over 12 regulars.

Summerland would come away with a win at the old Kamloops Memorial Arena, 4-2 over the Storm in the final game of the regular season for both teams. Ben Dietrich-Scammell, Morey Babakaiff, Brogan Lautard, and Everett Scherger scored goals for Summerland, while Huber made 33 saves to pick up the W. 2001 born Forward Ben Ward was far and away the best player for the Storm, netting his first two KIJHL goals in the loss. 

The two wins is how the regular season ends for the Summerland Steam, who’ve lost just twice since the calendar made the turn to 2017. The team did have a game scheduled for Tuesday night, February 21, in Armstrong to finish the 24:01 remaining in a December 2nd game that saw the power go out. That game and those two points, however, became irrelevant to the playoff race when the North Okanagan Knights beat the Princeton Posse 4-2 on Saturday to clinch themselves a spot in the KIJHL Playoffs. Being that the points don’t matter, the game will be abandoned and Summerland will be credited for a victory, as they led 4-1 when the lights went out with 4:01 remaining in the second period. This scenario is beneficial for both teams as they get much needed rest before the playoffs start Friday, and neither has to spend the cash to make the game happen when the points make no difference at all. 

Including that W, the Steam have gone 18-3-1-1 in 23 games since December 1st. In their last fifteen starts, they’ve come out on top thirteen times. Their only two losses in that stretch have come at the hands of the Osoyoos Coyotes, one of which the Steam led 4-3 through 59 minutes. 

Overall it was an unbelievable regular season for the white, red and black clad Steam. The team finished 4th overall in the KIJHL with 34 wins and 72 points for a .766% win percentage. Their 34 wins ties a franchise record, and does so in 5 less games than any other season in franchise history after the schedule was changed from 52 regular season games to 47. 

They’ll finish second in the Okanagan Divison and the Okanagan Shuswap Conference in the standings, finishing behind only the Osoyoos Coyotes. As a team the Steam sit 7th in the KIJHL on the powerplay at 21.93% (59/269), to go along with the KIJHL’s best penalty kill at 87.88% (269/303). 

They finish eighth in overall offense at 3.87 goals scored per game, and third in team goals against average at 2.49 goals allowed per game and post a goal differential of +65, the largest gap in franchise history.

7 players finished the 2016/17 season with 10 goals or more, and 10 finished with a point per game average of 0.5 points per game or better. That speaks to the incredible depth that the organization has built, as it can be any player on any night that steps up to chip in on (and off) the scoresheet. 

Two Steam forwards, Riley Pettitt (7) and Wyatt Gale (20),  finished inside the Top 20 in KIJHL scoring, while goaltender Matt Huber sits T-3 in appearances, 9th in GAA, and 15th in Sv% on the KIJHL goaltending leaderboard after a great year and a heavy work load.

It was said by staff and management from the very first day of camp in August that this 2016/17 rendition of the Summerland Steam may be the best that’s ever been put on the ice, and through a 47 game regular season the boys who put on the jerseys each and every night haven’t disappointed. They’ve thrilled their home fans to the tune of an 18-3-1-1 record in 23 home games, and they’ll be looking to keep the roll going through the playoffs into a deep playoff run. 

They’ll open the KIJHL Okanagan Divison Playoffs on Friday night at home against the Kelowna Chiefs. It will be a 7:30 start from the Summerland Arena, and Joel and I will have full Pre-game starting at 7:15 on Playfullscreen.com, the KIJHL’s exclusive broadcasting partner.

Steam Win 2 of 3, Concede Division Crown to Coyotes

📸: Vicky Rich 

For the third straight season, the Summerland Steam will finish second in the Okanagan Division standings. For the third straight season, the Summerland Steam will see the Kelowna Chiefs in the first round of the Okanagan Divison playoffs. This was all but confirmed Friday night when the Steam suffered a 4-1 loss at the hands of the division leading Osoyoos Coyotes at home. 

It was just their second loss since Christmas, and in that respect there isn’t a whole lot more a team can do. Their only two losses came to those same Coyotes, and even if Summerland had won those two games, they may not have reached the Coyotes in the standings. 

On Friday night Ryan Roseboom scored twice for the ‘Yotes, leading his team to the 4-1 victory, while Reid Wilson and Hunter Johnson (ENG) also tallied. Ben Dietrich-Scammell scored the lone goal for Summerland in the loss, just their 3rd regulation loss on home ice this season. 

The Coyotes would put it out of reach and officially be crowned division champions on Saturday with a 2-0 shutout victory over the Kelowna Chiefs.

While the Coyotes took care of their business, Summerland took care of theirs with a 4-3 victory in Princeton. Braden Eliuk, Wyatt Gale, Josh Pilon, and Steven Fiust scored for the visitors, while Bobby Milligan made 31 saves for Princeton. The Posse got goals from Drew Carter, Tristyn Olsen, and Nick Graham in the losing effort. 

Princeton, currently tied with North Okanagan for the 4th and final Okanagan Division Playoff spot, failed to pick up points and could have lost ground in the standings. Luckily for them, the Kamloops Storm took care of the North Okanagan Knights by a 4-1 score to keep the two teams deadlocked at 30 points. Whoever finishes in that 4th and final playoff spot will go to Osoyoos on February 24th to start one of the two Okanagan Divison Semi-final series’.  

The other Okanagan Divison Semi-final series will start in Summerland on the same night. The Summerland Steam will host the Kelowna Chiefs for the third straight season, with Summerland winning the previous two series’ in 7 and 6 games respectively in the past two years. 

Summerland played their final home game before the playoffs on Monday, a 1:45pm matinee against the Osoyoos Coyotes, and came up with a 6-4 victory thanks to five assists from Riley Pettitt. Jarrett Malchow (13,14) and Scott Robinson (5,6) each scored twice, while Wyatt Gale (26) tallied a powerplay goal and Konsta Jaske fired his 4th of the year into an empty net.

Highlights: 


Summerland used special teams to come up with Monday’s victory. They scored three times on the powerplay, and once shorthanded, as they watched the Coyotes come unglued at referee Cydnie Rice. Whether it was Rice or the Summerland Steam, it’s the first time in recent history (to my knowledge) that the Coyotes have conceded 10 powerplay opportunities in a single game. Usually in the series between these two teams it is Summerland who concedes that kind of powerplay time, but they found themselves capitalizing on their opportunities on Monday.

It was great to see the Steam, one of the KIJHL’s best teams on Special Teams, use their strengths to their advantage to pick up a victory on home ice. They’re overall game is continuing to improve and the coaching staff feels that they’re ready to ‘peak at the right time’ just before the playoffs. 

With two, possibly three regular season games remaining, the Steam have to feel pretty good about where they’re at. They’ll have home ice in the first round of the playoffs, they know for sure they’ll be facing the Kelowna Chiefs, and they’ve got a couple of games remaining to fine tune their collective game. 

On Friday the Steam will make their fourth and final regular season trip to Princeton, who is still fighting North Okanagan for the final Okanagan Divison Playoff spot. The Steam will then go to Kamloops on Saturday night to finish their KIJHL regular season schedule. 

There is a game scheduled for Tuesday of next week, February 21st, between the Summerland Steam and the North Okanagan Knights. That game is a continuation of a game from December 2nd, in which the power went out at Nor-Val Arena in Armstrong. Summerland currently leads that game 4-1 with 4:04 remaining in the second period. 

The remainder of this game will only be played if the points make a difference in North Okanagan’s chase for the postseason. If they’ve qualified for the playoffs, or are more than 2 points behind Princeton after those two teams play each other Saturday night, the Tuesday game will be abandoned and go down as a 4-1 Summerland victory. 

Steam Set For Clash With Coyotes


It’s been two weeks since the Summerland Steam let one slip away in the final minute against the Osoyoos Coyotes, and they’ll get their chance at revenge on Friday night when the Coyotes pay their second to last visit to the Summerland Arena. 

Two weeks ago, on January 27th, Summerland saw a 4-3 lead turn into a 5-4 loss in the blink of an eye, allowing the Coyotes to score twice, once at :49 and once at :11, to come away with two points. 

Since then the Steam have bene finding ways to win. Since that loss two weeks ago, their only loss since Christmas, Summerland has won three straight. They picked up a 5-4 2OT win in Revelstoke the next night, followed by back to back one goal wins over the rival Kelowna Chiefs. 

The Steam were able to beat the Chiefs by a 2-1 score on Saturday night last weekend, followed by a 2OT victory by a 3-2 score in Rutland on Tuesday. 

The win in Rutland was especially sweet, as the Steam battled a little adversity to come up with a big character win. Missing five regulars from their lineup, Summerland was able to claw their way to overtime with a good road game. In OT, Mike MacLean was given the boot for a hit on Jason Village and assessed a five minute major for Checking to the Head and a game misconduct. 

MacLean is now suspended for the next four games, while Village started that Chiefs powerplay and played nearly four minutes of the five minute powerplay.

Luckily for the Steam, their league-best penalty kill went to work and took care of the disadvantage. Wyatt Gale was able to bag his 24th of the season, on a powerplay, with just :14 remaining in the period to give the Steam the extra point.

The extra point keeps the Steam in pursuit of the Osoyoos Coyotes at the top of the Okanagan Divison Standings. Headed into two meetings this weekend, Summerland sits seven points back. If Summerland wins their games and takes care of their own business, they could be just a couple of points back by weekend’s end. 

With six games remaining for Osoyoos and seven for Summerland, there is an outside chance the Steam could catch the Coyotes. That game in hand is a game from December 2nd against the North Okanagan Knights that Summerland leads 4-1 with 4:01 remaining in the second period. That game is scheduled to be completed, if necessary, on February 21st. The game will only be completed if the points are necessary to help the Knights make the playoffs.

For Summerland they’ll gear up for a tough weekend this weekend that includes three games in four days. They’ll play the Coyotes tonight at home, travel to Princeton on Saturday, and return home to face the Coyotes again Monday at 1:30 for a Family Day matinee.

The Steam and Coyotes going head to head this season has been nothing short of spectacular. All but two of their six meetings to date have been fun, entertaining, and competitive. I would expect all three of those things to be present inside the Summerland Arena Friday, as Summerland puts a 17-2-1-1 home record up against the 17-4 road record of the Okanagan Shuswap Conference leading Coyotes. 

Since December 1st, 2016, the two teams have been nothing short of spectacular. Summerland has gone 13-2-1-1 in 17 games, while Osoyoos has gone 16-2-0-1 in 19 of their own. In their past 10 games, both teams are 9-1. Each team’s only regulation loss has come against the other,  which is a pretty good indicator of what you’re going to see on Friday night and Monday afternoon. It will be important, as always, for Summerland to play the game at 5v5 and control the game with their forecheck. The Coyotes powerplay, as is well known, is the one thing Summerland will need to steer clear of, because it’s deadly.

It seems these two teams only really lose to one another, and that’s going to make this weekend a whole lot of fun. Two of the best teams in the province, who really aren’t too fond of one another, are about to get after it twice in four days. It should be compelling stuff as we head for the end of the KIJHL Regular Season and get ready for the playoffs to start on February 24th. 

Puck drops at 7:30 tonight from the Summerland Arena, and Joel and I will have full Pre-game starting at 7:15.

Weekend Split Has Steam Chasing 

If you wanted entertainment and a night out in Summerland, BC, last Friday night was a good night to do it. The Summerland Steam and the Osoyoos Coyotes played one of the most interesting games of the season to date, with a surprise ending that even Spielberg couldn’t have written. 
Summerland, looking to close the gap on the division leading Coyotes, opened the scoring in a game that they needed badly to keep up with the division leaders. Riley Pettitt notched his 20th, beating Coyotes goaltender Liam Aitken after a good feed from Levi Johnson in neutral ice. Affiliate Player Bailey Tamminga would pick up his first KIJHL point on the play as he moved the puck through the neutral zone to Johnson. He then fed to Pettitt, who went high over the right handed glove of Aitken. 

Cody Allen’s first of the season would follow, surprise surprise, on a Coyotes powerplay. A great feed cross ice from Sam Reinbolt found the stick of Allen for the one timer, and he made no mistake in beating Steam starter Matt Huber. 

Judd Repole would add his first of two on the night on another Coyotes powerplay just a few minutes later to put the visitors up 2-1 after a period. 

Wyatt Gale would tally the only goal of the second period, a tip in front, for his 20th of the season to tie things at 2. After a faceoff win in the offensive zone by Braden Eliuk, Matt Alcorn threw a puck at goal where Gale tipped it past Aitken while eluding a defender. 

The ‘Yotes would then take a 3-2 lead on Cody Allen’s second of the night early in the third period. After extended zone pressure by Osoyoos, Allen let a shot go from the left point. The puck went wide of the goal, but bounced off the end boards, out off Matt Huber, and into the back of the net to give the visitors their lead back.

The Coyotes lead wouldn’t last long, as Mike MacLean would answer for the Steam with a great solo effort. After stripping the puck from a Coyotes forward in neutral ice, MacLean found himself streaking into the zone all alone as his linemates changed. He was able to beat Aitken for his 5th of the season with a low, hard shot through a defender’s legs, tying the game at three. 

MacLean would be at it again shortly thereafter, with about 6:30 to go, as he and Morey Babakaiff found themselves in on the forecheck. They were able to strip the puck and find a wide open Calvin Rout in the slot, who beat a helpless Aitken to give the Steam the lead. 

Up 4-3 with just over six minutes to play, Summerland looked to have gained control. They did good work for the next couple of minutes to dictate play, and actually forced the Coyotes to take a penalty with just over three to play. 

They were unable to cash in on their powerplay, but did kill a full two minutes from the clock, taking them down to just over a minute to play. That’s when things went sideways. 

Two failed clears, one with about :54 seconds to play and one with about :15 seconds to play, allowed the Coyotes to score two goals on two 50+ foot screen shots in the final minute of play. Judd Repole scored the first, his second of the night, on a tip in front of Huber with :49 seconds remaining. Austin Steger would then send one through traffic with :11 seconds remaining to break the tie and send the Coyotes home with 2 points and a 5-4 victory. 

Yes, it was frustrating to watch, and surely frustrating to play, but that’s the beauty of junior hockey. Things can change in quick order, and on Friday night it took just under a minute for Summerland to see what could have been a three point deficit go to seven. It’ll make catching the Coyotes for first in the conference a very difficult task for the Summerland Steam.

The positives in the game Friday against Osoyoos were really good ones. The Steam were shorthanded due to both injury and illness, and managed to find a way to stay in the game despite missing Jarrett Malchow, Everett Scherger, and Konsta Jaske from their lineup. Affiliate defenseman Bailey Tamminga was terrific in relief, and did well when he was put in key situations by Head Coach John Depourcq including special teams, and late in the game. 

Summerland could have been within three points and still maintained a game in hand. Instead the Coyotes now find themselves up 7 points with 6 games to go, 2 of them at the Summerland Arena. 

After the debilitating loss Friday, Summerland Steam knew they needed to bounce back. Surely the message from Head Coach John Depourcq was to not dwell, and “get back on the horse” the next night in Revelstoke. 

The Revelstoke Forum, home to the Revelstoke Grizzlies, was LOUD on Saturday night as it was ‘Aussie Night’. All the employees from the Revelstoke Mountain Resort were in the house, and got to watch another entertaining contest.

This time Summerland would come out on top by the 5-4 score, powered by a double overtime winner by Scott Robinson. Wyatt Gale scored twice, Riley Pettitt also tallied, and Steven Fiust notched his 5th of the year in regulation. Robinson would then score in 3on3 overtime to give the Steam the 5-4 victory and Jared Breitkreuz his 8th win of the season. 

The two points in Revelstoke were definitely welcome. Summerland was a team this weekend that was missing an element to it’s game with Malchow, Scherger and Jaske out of the lineup, and it was great to see them pull together to play two pretty good hockey games. 

They finished the month of January with a 7-1 record, with the lone loss coming to the Coyotes last Friday. In their last 15 contests dating back to December 3 the Steam carry an 11-2-1-1 record, so they’re doing just fine. 

The Steam finish the month of January with higher than average totals in a lot of categories. They scored over a full goal more than their 4.00 goals per game average, netting 5.31 goals per game in 2017’s first month. They also, however, gave up a full goal more than their 2.32 goals against per game average, allowing an average of over 3.00 goals per game in January. 

Riley Pettitt and Wyatt Gale carried the bulk of the offensive load in the month, collecting 18 points (9g+9a) and 15 points (6g+9a) respectively in eight games. Both SHOULD be up for the KIJHL’s Okanagan Shuswap Conference Player of the Month Award when it is announced later this week. 

The Yukon Line did a lot of the scoring for Summerland during January, but they definitely didn’t do it alone. Every player on the roster, including AP defenseman Bailey Tamminga, chipped in with at least a point through eight games in January. Brogan Lautard, Braden Eliuk and Konsta Jaske, as a matter of fact, were the only Steam players not to tally a goal in the month.

It’s a wonderful thing to have the depth that Head Coach John Depourcq has to work with. It begins to come in handy at this time of year when injuries from a long season begin to mount, and the playoffs loom. The KIJHL Playoffs are a different grind than most other leagues, as teams are required to fit 7 games into 9 day windows in the first three rounds. Easy math says there’s a potential to play 21 games in 27 days, which is almost exactly a half a KIJHL season in less than one month. For contextual purposes, Summerland started their season on September 9th, and played their 21st game 64 days later in Chase on November 12th. That’s a lot of hockey to be played over a 27 day period if you have to play three seven game series’. Due to these kinds of numbers, there’s certainly a premium put on winning a series in four or five games. Surely that’s the preference of most teams looking to make a deep run, including the Summerland Steam. 

That’s still three weeks away for the boys in black, red, and white, and with 7 games remaining it will give them a chance to fine tune as they stare down a potential first round meeting with the Kelowna Chiefs for a third straight year. 

They’ll see those Chiefs twice more before the playoffs, however, including this Saturday night at the Summerland Arena. The Chiefs are a hard-nosed, talented hockey team that can be very difficult to deal with. The Steam have had their successes with the Chiefs so far, going 4-2 in six meetings to date, but they’ll have to be sharp to beat a team that does not like to lose. 

Puck drop will be at 730pm and Joel Barg and I will have full pregame starting at 715pm on Playfullscreen.com. 

Steam Show Character in Pair of Weekend Wins 

A lot of coaches who coach junior hockey will tell you that there are certain games throughout a season that show you what your team is really made of. This was one of those weekends from the Summerland Steam. With two extremely tough opponents in the Chase Heat and Kelowna Chiefs, and needing the points to keep pace with the ever dangerous Osoyoos Coyotes, Summerland came to play. On Friday night they picked up a 7-4 home victory over the Doug Birks Division leading Heat, before having to mount an unlikely comeback on Saturday night in Kelowna. 

Head Coach John Depourcq of the Summerland Steam has to be happy with what he saw from his group this weekend, as he watched them win by coming from behind in both games. Against Chase it was just a 1-0 deficit, as Mason Palaga opened the scoring for the Heat on the powerplay near the midway mark of the first period. Palaga found a soft spot in the slot, found a rebound off a shot from Josh Bourne, and beat Steam starter Matt Huber over the blocker to put Chase out front.

It didn’t take long for the same thing to happen at the other end of the ice, just five minutes in fact, as the Steam were able to make the same play happen. After some good work in the corner Scott Robinson was able to find Ben Dietrich-Scammell open in the slot, and he made no mistake going under the bar behind Nic Bruyere for his 17th of the season.

Josh Pilon would give Summerland a lead they wouldn’t relinquish with :39 remaining in the first period, connecting on the  powerplay for his 15th of the year to end the first period. It was a period that I, personally, thought Summerland was lucky to get out of up by a goal, but they’d continue to score early in the second.

Just under three minutes into period number two, Andrew York would be credited with his 7th of the year to put Summerland up 3-1. The goal came off a Cole Wiliams shot from the point, which initially we thought a Chase defender put into his own net. It was in fact York who tucked the puck behind Bruyere, and the Steam found themselves up 3-1.

Riley Pettitt would then get his first of two on the night, on the power play, with just 5 minutes gone in the second period. After taking a pass up the left wing side, Pettitt was able to streak in and beat Bruyere up high to stretch the Summerland lead to 4-1 with his 17th of the season. 

Grady Musgrave would pick up a rebound and bring the Heat back to within two a few minutes later, but Levi Johnson would make sure the lead stayed at 3 goals to finish the second period. Johnson, in his first game in nearly 2 months, picked up a goal and an assist in his return. The goal, Summerland’s 5th of the night, was of the highlight reel variety. Johnson took a cross-ice pass from Ben Dietrich-Scammell through traffic and drug it back across the crease to beat a sliding Nic Bruyere by way of the five-hole.

Summerland would take the three goal lead to the second intermission, but it would be cut back to two courtesy of Chase’s Zach Fournier early in the third. The Yukon Line would then ensure things didn’t get any closer, as Jarrett Malchow fed Riley Pettitt at the back post for his 18th to restore the Steam three goal lead at 6-3. 

Josh Bourne would pull Chase back to within two and make it 6-4 before Malchow would put one into an empty net to round out the scoring at 7-4 for the home team. 

Summerland showed once again that they’re right there with the league’s elite, and did well to show themselves off against one of the best teams in the conference. They did so missing two key pieces in Mike MacLean (suspension) and Braden Eliuk (illness). 

They’d be without these two on Saturday night as well when the Steam faced off against the rival Kelowna Chiefs. The two missing bodies to start the game would be the least of the Steam’s worries, as they lost 5 players mid-game during that tilt on Saturday night. 

Three of them, Scott Robinson, Calvin Hadley, and Andrew York, were tossed along with their Chiefs counterparts for fighting. Summerland would also lose Jarrett Malchow and Everett Scherger early on in the game, and were down to 13 skaters for the majority of the contest. 

The Chiefs were on early, jumping out to a 2-0 lead thanks to a goal from Brendan Laing and a wicked shot from leading scorer Brett Witala. Laing was able to beat Steam starter Matt Huber on a 2-on-1 courtesy of a pass from Josh Kobelka. Witala was able to catch everyone napping, taking a bounce off the end boards and sniping one over the glove of Huber.

Elliott Pickrell would then put the Chiefs up 3-0 early in the second period, taking a pass out of the penalty box and beating Huber on a breakaway. 

With the loss of the five players early in the game, and down seven regulars overall, it would have been easy for the Steam to roll over and call it a night. For a minute, it looked like that’s what they were going to do. 

A powerplay goal from Morey Babakaiff, his third goal of the year, sparked the Steam with just over three minutes remaining in period two. They went to the intermission with renewed hope, and in the third it was their veterans that took over. Wyatt Gale scored his 19th of the year with exactly 19:00 remaining in the third period. 

The Steam would keep pushing, and eventually get the game tied on the powerplay in the middle stages of the third period. An unlikely source was the one to break through, as captain Alex Williams was the one to get the goal. Williams, usually a guy depended on for defending and providing some physicality and leadership in the Steam locker room, was given net-front duty on the Steam powerplay with all the bodies missing. 

He was able to score his first of the season by tipping a Konsta Jaske point shot past Kelowna goaltender Tanner Marshall to tie things at 3 and eventually force overtime.

In the extra frame Matt Huber made two saves, while Summerland only needed one shot. It came off the stick of Cole Williams, a backhand at the end of an end-to-end rush, as he beat Tanner Marshall to give the Steam the victory. 

With the victory, the Steam pick up their 4th win in six tries against the Chiefs, and first at Rutland Arena. It felt like a playoff game from the very start, and it was great to see the Steam battle through some adversity and get the job done on the road in a building where they needed a win. 

The only arena that remains where the Steam haven’t picked up a victory this season is Kamloops Memorial Arena, and they’ll have one more chance to do that before the season ends. 

After weekend results Summerland holds steady at five points behind the Osoyoos Coyotes. Osoyoos picked up two wins on the weekend as well, so Summerland still holds a game in hand and three head to head matchups remain.

The first of those matchups comes Friday night, January 27th at the Summerland Arena. It’s sure to be busy and loud in a playoff like atmosphere, which should be a lot of fun for us all. Have a look for the preview in the coming days.

Shootout in Summerland sees Steam Win 5th Straight

After a two win weekend this past weekend, the Summerland Steam were straight back to work on Tuesday night as they hosted the North Okanagan Knights. The two teams played last Saturday to a 6-2 decision in favour of the Steam in Armstrong, and went back at it again Tuesday night at the Summerland Arena. Summerland came into the game looking to pickup their 5th straight victory and move their home record to 15-1-1-1. They did so, picking up a 7-5 victory in a game that went back and forth nearly all night.
Summerland got off to a hot start on Tuesday night, peppering Knights goaltender Daniel Paul in the first five minutes and using a good forecheck to impose their will inside North Okanagan territory. Calvin Hadley was able to open the scoring for the Steam with his third of the season just a few minutes into the first period. After that good forecheck from the Steam, Morey Babakaiff was able to get th puck to the point and head for the net. Hadley was able to blast a shot through traffic and off a body, by Daniel Paul for a 1-0 Summerland lead. 

The opening goal came with 12:01 remaining in period 1, and Summerland wasn’t finished. They would score two more, Andrew York’s sixth of the season on a deflection at 8:04 followed by Matt Alcorn’s second of the year and second in as many games at 7:35. The two goals, both long shots through traffic, came just :29 apart and put Summerland out to a 3-0 lead.

It wasn’t long though before North Okanagan had an answer. Chris Pederson, recently acquired by the Knights from the Chase Heat, was able to score on a long shot of his own through traffic at 5:59 to tally his first KIJHL goal and pull the Knights back to within two after a period of play. The period was dominated by the Summerland Steam, as they outshot the Knights by a 14-5 margin and held their 3-1 lead. 

Everett Scherger would make it 4-1 with his 11th of the season, shorthanded, at 7:05 of the second frame. While on the PK, Scherger put his unbelievable ability to pursue the puck on display and stripped a puck off goaltender Daniel Paul in behind the North Okanagan goal. He was able to beat Paul back to the far post with a wrap around to put Summerland up 4-1.

The Scherger goal was the only bright spot for Summerland in period two, as they paraded to the penalty box and allowed the Knights to gain back some momentum. North Okanagan was able to capitalize at 5:11 on the power play when Cameron Welch made a move to get Steam starter Jared Breitkreuz out of position before banking the puck in off him for Welch’s fourth of the season.

Dean Whitcomb would pull the visitors within one at 3:48 when he scored his 13th of the season to make it a 4-3 game. In between the many Knights powerplays in the second period, Whitcomb found himself all alone in front of Breitkreuz. He made no mistake in stopping the point shot from Pedersen, dragging the puck around a sprawling Breitkreuz, and tucking it into the empty cage. 

With the score 4-3 and the clock winding down in the second period, Summerland was sent to the PK on a LATE slashing call by referee Lyle Hinds. Matt Alcorn was the culprit, and he argued his way to the penalty box and slammed the door. When he slammed the door, he and Jarrett Malchow (also in the box) got a glass shower.  The glass in the penalty box door smashed into a million little pieces, forcing an early intermission and extended delay as the arena staff got things cleaned up and replaced. They did a wonderful job and limited us to about a 25 minute delay before we got underway with the final 21:12.

Ben Dietrich-Scammell would be the next to tally, notching his 16th of the season on a nifty cutback with 14:43 remaining in the third period. North Okanagan, however, had an answer and it came in the form of Cameron Welch’s second of the night and fifth of the season. Welch was able to pick a puck up out of the corner and find his way into traffic in the slot. There, he beat Jared Breitkreuz to get the Knights back within a goal and make the score 5-4 with just over 11 minutes remaining.

Riley Pettitt would take his turn next, scoring what would stand as the game winner with 9:22 to play. After a good breakout, the Yukon Line moved their way through neutral ice three abreast. Wyatt Gale fed the right side to Jarrett Malchow, who carried over the blue line and fed a pass onto the tape of a streaking Riley Pettitt. Pettitt was able to guide the puck in at the back post for his 16th to extend Summerland’s lead to 6-4.

Dean Whitcomb would score again, his 14th, to make it 6-5 with 5:46 to play before Pettitt scored again on a Summerland powerplay to close things out with 1:45 to play and make the final 7-5. 

Highlights: 

This game as a whole was a little bit loose, as you could tell by the combined 12 goals. Only two of those goals, one for each team, came on the power play. They gave each other opportunities, combining for 12 total powerplays, but were mostly unsuccessful in their efforts with the man advantage. Despite the five goals against, the Steam were pretty good in most areas of the ice. They worked hard on the forecheck and did well to create offense off the rush, but the area that their problems occurred in was the five foot perimeter around their own net. Four of the Knights five goals were scored from that area, and the fifth was scored because there was traffic in that area. Summerland will need to work on that in practice this week if they want to have a chance to win their next home game, this Friday against the Chase Heat.
The Heat bring a much different element to he game me than a lot of teams in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference. Head Coach Brad Fox and the Chase Heat staff have put together a great blend of skill and smarts, as well as size and goaltending, to compete in a tough Doug Birks Division. Right now the Heat lead that division with a 24-9-1-2 record and 51 points, 5 points clear of the 100 Mile House Wranglers.

They’re led by a mix of veteran KIJHL Players and young talent, and can beat you in a lot of different ways. Michael Fidanza leads the team in scoring, and sits sixth in the KIJHL and third in the conference in scoring with 51 points (14G+32A). The special part about Chase though, is that it’s not only Fidanza you have to worry about. 

The Heat have 9, yes nine, players that average nearly a point per game or better. Josh Bourne (KIJHL Top Prospects Game Participant), Kaden Black, Pat Brady, Spencer Farstad, Zach Fournier, Kolten Moore, Travis Beaubien, Cody Hodges, and Mason Palaga all average .90 points per game or higher. That’s a deep hockey team. 

Chase’s depth will come in handy Friday night in Summerland as Hodges will miss the game due to suspension and Michael Fidanza is listed on the KIJHL website as day-to-day with a lower body injury. This could impact Head Coach Brad Fox’s line combinations, but with how deep Chase is it shouldn’t be too much of a concern.

If you manage to neutralize all of Chase’s offensive threats and create some of your own, well, you still have to find a way to beat Nic Bruyere. In 28 appearances this season, Bruyere carries a 2.88 goals against average and a .915% save percentage. The 20 year- old Burnaby, BC native is a 3 year KIJHL veteran that holds a career win-loss record of 44-27-4-3 in 76 appearances to go with a 2.60 goals against average and .920% save percentage in over 4500 minutes played.

 He’s been the great equalizer for the Chase Heat for the bulk of the past two seasons, and the Summerland Steam will have to find creative ways to beat him on Friday night if they want to win.

For my money, he’s the best goaltender in the KIJHL and comes up clutch in big moments. That’s what you want from your goaltender and that’s what Chase gets on a consistent basis. 

Bruyere is a big goaltender, but moves deceptively well for his 6’1″, 210 Lb frame. Summerland should look to get traffic in front of him and fire away from the blue line, much like Tuesday night against North Okanagan. Josh Pilon and Mike MacLean, in particular, are two big bodies that Summerland should look to have drive the net and create problems for the Chase Heat below the hash marks.

It should be a great game Friday night between two powerhouses in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference. Puck drop goes at 7:30 at the Summerland Arena. Joel and I will have the Coastal Eye Clinic Pre-Game show coming your way on playfullscreen.com starting at 7:15 with audio hopefully from both coaches.

Prospects Weekend A Smash, Steam Perfect in Two Tests

Prospects.png

It seems like forever ago we found out that the KIJHL would join with the Kelowna International Major Midget Tournament (KIMMT) to put on the 2017 KIJHL Top Prospects Showcase. For the past couple of months there has been hot debate as to how the game would be formatted, who would be included, how the rosters would look, and how fans league wide could watch the game. What they ultimately decided on was players born in ’99 and ’00, and those players didn’t disappoint on Saturday afternoon on Shaw TV channels throughout the bulk of the province or on YouTube.

From the very beginning the high skill level was on display, and the teams showed themselves well on route to a 3-3 tie. Evan Walls of the Kamloops Storm and Tyler Ghirardosi of the Beaver Valley Nitehawks each scored a pair, and were named Player of the Game for their respective teams. Brady Berger of the Grand Forks Border Bruins scored the other goal for Team Kootenay, while Brendan Mongey of the hometown Kelowna Chiefs scored the other for the Okanagan Shuswap Conference.

Morey Babakaiff was the only player selected from the Summerland Steam for the 2017 Top Prospects Showcase, and had an assist while playing with Kamloops young stars Evan Walls, and Devin Leduc. Walls and Leduc, along with Kamloops teammates Jacob Callas and Garrett Ewart were the stars for Team Okanagan Shuswap, while Beaver Valley’s Tyler Ghirardosi and Bradley Ross were arguably the most impactful players for Team Kootenay.

You can watch the full Shaw TV broadcast on YouTube here:

 With the prospects showcase taking place in Kelowna, a lot of teams had light work loads this past weekend in the KIJHL. The Summerland Steam, however, had two big games to play. On Friday night the Steam paid their final visit of the season to the desert to faceoff with the rival Osoyoos Coyotes. The Yukon Line led the way, scoring 3 of Summerland’s 4 goals on route to a 4-3 victory. 

Wyatt Gale scored in the game’s first minute to put the Steam up 1-0, and they would go to first intermission with that lead after an extremely well played “road period”. In the second the Steam were at their best as Riley Pettitt scored twice and Ben Dietrich-Scammell added another to extend the lead to 4-0. While they were scoring to extend the lead, they also took their turn putting expert penalty killing on display. Friday was no different than most other times the Steam play the Coyotes in the fact they gave them ample opportunity to cash in on the powerplay. On Friday though, Summerland did a great job to prevent the Coyotes from scoring with the man advantage. 

The visitors would take their 4-0 lead to the third period, where they would withstand a Coyotes onslaught and pick up a 4-3 victory.  Hunter Johnson and Ryan Roseboom would pull the Coyotes within two, and Austin Steger would add a third with :47 remaining, but that was as close as the Coyotes would get. Matt Huber was sensational for the Seam in victory, stopping 42 of 45 shots faced.

Saturday night in Armstrong was much different than Friday in Osoyoos.  Summerland didn’t look quite as good as they did on Friday, yet they still dominated from start to finish on the way to a 6-2 victory over the North Okanagan Knights. Everett Scherger scored twice while Matt Alcorn, Andrew York, Mike MacLean, and Ben Dietrich-Scammell also scored. For Alcorn it goes down as his first KIJHL goal, as he was sprung from the penalty box on a pass from Konsta Jaske, he made no mistake in sliding a puck by Knights goaltender Connor Webb. If not for Webb, Saturday night’s contest could have been a lot more lopsided. The young Knights goaltender stopped 33 of 39 shots, including 14 of 18 from inside the “High Quality” scoring triangle.

These two teams will lock up again tonight at the Summerland Arena for the 8th and final time this season. There is still the remainder of a December 2nd game to be played to complete the season series, which will likely be made up as the final game of the regular season near the end of February. 

By meeting number eight, these two teams know each other pretty well. That was evident on Saturday night as the physicality was present from the very beginning. That’s going to be the case again Tuesday as both teams have their own goals in mind. The Steam are looking to close the 7 point gap on the Osoyoos Coyotes, while the Knights are looking to get back on track and gain some ground on the Princeton Posse who sit just two points back of the final playoff spot the Knights currently occupy.

Puck drop goes at 7:30 at the Summerland Arena. Joel and I will have the Coastal Eye Clinic pre-game show on playful screen.com starting at 7:15 with coaches audio and a full preview of what’s to come.