After what's felt like a layoff lasting forever, the Summerland Steam will kick it back into gear tonight as they head into the Sun Bowl Arena in Osoyoos for an 8:05 puck drop against the division rival Coyotes. These two teams last played each other in a home and home series on December 28th and 29th, each taking a 3-2 victory in the other's home rink. Tonight's matchup will mark the 7th time these two teams have faced off this season, with each team picking up 3 victories.
Each team's last game came in Armstrong against the North Okanagan Knights, with Osoyoos picking up a 5-2 loss on January 12th and Summerland coming home with a 5-1 win on January 10th.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: SUMMERLAND STEAM
The Steam come into tonight's game off an 8 day break. Their last game was a 5-1 win in Armstrong against the Knights that saw a total team effort and a solid 35 save performance from Darren Hogg in the Steam net. It was a good bounce back performance for the team after a dismal effort in Princeton three nights prior.
Tonight it will be Brett Huber who takes the crease for Summerland as he looks make a strong start and help his team get a very valuable 2 points in the Okanagan Division. This will be the 4th time this season that Huber has faced the Osoyoos Coyotes, with is record to date being 3W-1L. He has allowed 2 goals or less in 3 of his 4 starts against the Coyotes, and will want to continue that trend through this evening's contest.
The Steam lead the Coyotes by a point in the division, even though Osoyoos does carry 1 game in hand over through tonight's contest. The Steam have seen a vast improvement in their ranking in the standings in the past couple of months, and will look to continue strong play against their division in order to gain even more ground. On November 1st they sat 1 point out of last place in the Okanagan Division and now, 2 months later, they sit in 2nd place, 1 point up on 3rd place Osoyoos and trailing the division leading Kelowna Chiefs by just 7 points.
Tonight the Steam will welcome a couple of 'new' faces to their lineup. One will be the newest member of the Summerland Steam, Calvin Hadley, who was acquired from the Comox Valley Glacier Kings of the VIJHL at the trade deadline last week. In 77 games played with the Glacier Kings over the past 2 seasons, Calvin has amassed 6 goals and 12 assists for 18 points to go along with 230 PIMS.
The other 'new addition' will be Shane Bennett, a member of the Steam since the start of the season who's missed the last 31 games and roughly 15 weeks with a lower body injury. In 8 games this season before his injury occurred, Shane accumulated 1 goal and 3 assists for the Steam. Shane is expected to skate on a line with Jordan Boultbee and Reid Brown in his first game back for Summerland.
Cooper Holick will sit out tonight's game against the Coyotes while he serves a 1 game ban for accumulated fighting majors after an early tilt with North Okanagan Knights forward Matthew Halvorson early in that January 10th victory. Alex Williams will be also absent from the Steam lineup tonight as he rehabs a lower body injury suffered in the early stages of that 5-1 victory over the North Okanagan Knights on January 10th. He hopes to return to action in the Steam's next game, January 21st at the Rutland Arena vs the Kelowna Chiefs.
Paulsen Lautard will also return to the Steam lineup after sitting out vs North Okanagan on Jan 10th.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: OSOYOOS COYOTES
The Osoyoos Coyotes come in tonight after a loss in North Okanagan, so they'll be looking to get back on track and get back in the win column against the Steam. The Steam will have to be wary of the Coyotes' top line of Aaron Azevedo, Colin Chmelka, and speedster Troy Maclise. This line carries most of the offensive load for the Coyotes up front along with Rainer Glimpel and Jackson Dematos, and all five players are always dangerous each and every time they're on the ice.
The Steam will also have to be very cognizant of Coyotes' veteran defenseman and Osoyoos native Cameron Dobransky every time he hits the ice. A veteran of 169 career KIJHL games, Dobransky provides the Coyotes with very solid defensive play with his D partner Wyatt Trumbley, and leads all Coyotes' defensemen in points with 25 this season. In his KI career Dobransky's stat line reads 17G and 58A for 75 pts to go along with 141 PIMs. At 5' 8" and 165 Lbs, he has no problem planting an opponent when he gets the chance and he won't hesitate to jump in the rush as the Coyotes move up the ice out of their defensive zone. Look for him to be especially motivated to throw checks against Summerland, a team who possesses 6 players on their roster who Dobransky grew up playing with and against shift in and shift out for the better part of the past 13 seasons.
The Steam will not be the only team to have a new face in their lineup tonight. The Coyotes will have a new addition to their lineup in 21 year old (01/14/93) Osoyoos native Brock Anderson. Brock has returned to play the remainder of the season with the Coyotes after spending the previous 2 seasons with the club. Brock has amassed 95 games of KIJHL experience over three seasons, all with the Yotes. In those 95 games, Anderson has picked up 30 points (12G, 18A) and an astounding 363 PIM. Listed at 5' 11" and 185 LBS, he isn't afraid to use his body on the forecheck or anywhere else on the ice, so the Steam will need to make sure they know where he is at all times when he's on the ice.
Coyotes goaltenders Lawrence Langan and Nathan Alalouf have both played against the Steam this season, and both have proven that it doesn't matter which of them is in the net on Saturday night, it will be tough for the Steam to score goals.
The puck drops tonight at 8:05PM at the Sun Bowl Arena in Osoyoos! If you can't get to the rink, make sure to join Tom Shields and Randy Bedard for the call on KIJHL.ca just before puck drop!