📸: 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.
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.