On Saturday night the Summerland Steam took to the ice at the Nor-Val Arena in Armstrong for Game 4 vs the North Okanagan Knights. It was bound to be a spirited affair as Summerland was looking to tie the series after losing Game 3 on home ice on Friday night.
The Steam were far better on this night than they were in any of the previous 3 games of the series, but just couldn’t find any puck luck once again to get them on the board early in the game. The final score would end up being 2-1 in favour of the nights, who now take a 3-1 series lead into Summerland for Game 5 tomorrow night at 7PM.
Here’s how we got to a 2-1 final score:
The first period started much like game 3, with fast action and a frantic pace, but no goals. Summerland took an early 15-5 advantage in shots and were more physical than we’ve seen in any game in this series. They had a few chances early on, but none were able to be put by Knights’ starter Zach Dyment.
Dyment was busy early in the period with Steam pressure, but it was Darren Hogg in the Steam goal who kept the game scoreless later in the period with several sharp saves on shots from all over the ice. The shots would end up 18-16 in favor of the Steam at the end of 1.
In the second the Steam continued to get chances around the Knights’ net and even hit a couple more posts before the scoring was opened up. Unfortunately, it was Tanner Burns who opened the scoring in favour of the Knights right after the Steam had a couple of chances. Burns took a cross ice pass on an odd man rush and buried one behind Darren Hogg to make it 1-0 for the Knights.
Despite the goal against, the Steam continued to apply a little pressure, which is something that we haven’t seen much of in the first couple of games of this series. They STILL couldn’t buy a goal, however, and even though they continued to push through the second period, as the Steam are just simply snake-bitten at the moment. They continue to generate play on the offensive side of center but just can't take advantage of the chances they're creating. It'll come, eventually, but hasn't surfaced yet in this series.
Near the end of the second period Tanner Burns took advantage of a Steam player who was on a foray into the offensive zone. He took the puck off a Steam defender and carried it all the way up the ice and buried a nicely placed shot over the shoulder of Darren Hogg to make it 2-0 with just 8 second left on the clock.
In the third it was referee Shane Hillman’s time to shine. He took it upon himself on this night to ensure that everybody in the building was getting their $10 worth to watch him work. Both teams were unhappy with him throughout the period as both were trying to gain leverage and drive play but were interrupted by phantom penalty calls that resulted in multiple powerplays on both sides, including a 5-on-3 each way. At one point he issued a penalty to Easton Bodeaux and sent him to the penalty box. He then began chirping at Bodeux because Bodeaux could not get the penalty box door open. As Bodeaux was telling him he couldn't get the door to the penalty box open, referee Hillman then issued the Steam defender two 10 minute misconducts and sent him off for the remainder of the contest.
The only goal of the 3rd period came off the stick of the Steam’s Rylan Sideroff, on a powerplay through a maze of bodies and past Zach Dyment with 2:51 left in the hockey game. The Steam continued to push with the goaltender pulled but were unsuccessful in getting another puck past Dyment, and the Knights finished the game up 2-1.
The Knights now lead the best of seven series 3-1 and have a chance to close out the Summerland Steam tomorrow night at the Summerland Arena. Summerland is now in a must-win situation with their backs against the wall, and will be in even tougher as they have lost Paulsen Lautard to an upper body injury for the foreseeable future. They’ll need a big effort from everybody in order to stave off elimination at least for one more game.
Hogg was stellar on this night, making 39 saves on a total of 41 Knights’ shots and giving his team a chance to be in a hockey game that was really overrun by the Knights physicality once again. Summerland was more physical tonight than in previous games, but were still no match for the Knights. They’ll need to be better on the forecheck and try and get the job done in Game 5.
The biggest thing the Steam need to do in game 5, when their backs are against the wall and it's a must-win is HAVE SOME FUN. They can't think about the magnitude of the game or what it means, they just need to go out and have some fun. All the fun they were having when they made their run from worst-to-first in the final half of the season needs to be found again. They're a good hockey team with a lot of potential, and I have faith in the boys that they'll bring it on Sunday night.
The puck drops at 7PM at the Summerland Arena. Note the special start time, as it is not the usual 2PM Sunday puck drop nor is it a 7:30 start like usual when the Steam are at home. Be sure to come out and support the boys and get loud and show them just how bad you want to see them keep playing!
As always, you can always follow along with the Steam on Facebook at ‘Summerland Junior B Hockey Club’ or on twitter @SteamKIJHL and @Steam_Voice.