Tonight the Summerland Steam return home to face the Chase Heat. The Steam last played Wednesday night in Armstrong, defeating the North Okanagan Knights by the score of 3-1. Kienan Scott was once again an offensive force to be reckoned with as he scored all three Summerland goals leading to the victory. It was a solid team effort and a positive end result that saw them push past the Knights for sole possession of 3rd in the Okanagan Division while still maintaining 2 games in hand over the Knights and the Kelowna Chiefs. The Steam also hold 3 games in hand over the Osoyoos Coyotes, one of which will be used tonight.
Tonight the Steam turn their attention to the Chase Heat. The Heat also played on Wednesday evening, hosting the Sicamous Eagles and managing a 3-1 victory. The Steam and the Heat have collided once already this season, that meeting being October 19th in Chase with the Heat prevailing 4-3 in Overtime. In that game the Steam carried a 3-1 lead to the final minute of play before Chase scored twice to tie the game and Chad Wilde won the game for the Heat in overtime.
This game was one of Summerland's 7 losses in a row early in the season. During this span they had trouble with pucks in their own end of the ice and that led to offensive struggles. The team the Chase Heat will see tonight, however, is an extremely different hockey team than they saw on October 19th. The Steam have simplified their defensive zone play and that has led to more speed through the middle and chances in the offensive zone off of rushes. They'll need to continue the trend of strong play they've shown since the start of November in order to beat a very tough hockey club from Chase.
The Steam will be without Kendall Wilson once again as he continues to rehab a nagging knee injury that's seen him sidelined since November 15th. The Steam will also be without forward Gordon Walters, who will serve a 1 game suspension for an altercation in the first period of the Wednesday night victory over the North Okanagan Knights. The Steam will have one AP in the lineup tonight as forward Cody Egilson gets the call in favor of the suspended Walters.
Braden Saretsky and Easton Bodeaux will both be game-time decisions for the Steam, and Brett Huber will make his 23rd appearance and 22nd start of the season between the pipes for Summerland.
Huber has been stellar so far this season, posting a 2.59 GAA and a .921 Sv% through his 22 appearances to date, good for 5th overall among KIJHL goaltenders. He has been a big reason for the Steam's success so far this season, and he'll look to continue to play well against Chase tonight.
The puck hits the ice just after 7:30 at the Summerland Arena so be sure to come out and support the boys as they look to continue their ascension in the Okanagan Division standings. If for some reason you can't make it out, make sure to join us for all the action on KIJHL.ca and check out the blog after the game!