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Friday, 7 March 2014

STEAM LOSE GAME 7, FACE LONG OFFSEASON

It was a great season for the 2013-2014 Summerland Steam, but as they say, all good things must come to an end. Unfortunately for the Steam it came to an end on Wednesday night at the hands of the North Okanagan Knights in a Game 7 that was every bit as entertaining as it should have been. It ended 5-3, and put an end to a series that saw 6 games of back and forth action that would almost make your heart stop at the drop of a dime. The Knights were big and physical, and it forced the Steam to scratch, claw, and battle with everything they had. Injuries certainly played a part, but did not deter from the entertainment value in this series.

In today's blog you'll find a recap of Game 7 and a season-ender as well, so let's get started:

GAME 7


Just as most games in this series had started, the Knights jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on 2 powerplay goals by Tanner Burns and Ryley Booth. Scoring first and scoring early was how the Knights had built their 3-1 series lead, but Summerland came back in the series and came back in this game.

They started chipping away with about 6 minutes to go in the second period when Paulsen Lautard took a pass from Daylan Robertson and deposited it behind Knights' goaltender Zach Dyment. They went into the intermission down by just a goal, and 5 minutes into the 3rd the Steam were able to tie things up at 2 after Sam Nigg took a beautiful cross crease feed from Jordan Boultbee and beat Dyment.

From there things started to get tense, and it looked as though both teams were hesitant to do anything but keep the puck out of their own zone. At 10:02 of the third period, the Knights' Paul Biegel took a holding penalty that sent the Steam to the powerplay and gave them the chance they needed to grab the lead.

They did just that.

After missing a yawning cage on a feed from Robertson late in the powerplay, Lautard picked up his second of the night on the second try of the exact same play. With 8:13 to go, the Steam had a one goal advantage and looked to have things well in control based on the run of the play.

Off the ensuing faceoff, the Knights' took another penalty as Ryley Booth retrieved the puck inside his own blue line and flipped it up over the glass, which is an automatic penalty. This penalty, however, was one that Summerland would have declined if they could have. The powerplay was disorganized from the start and with just a few seconds left in the penalty the Knights were able to capitalize on a defensive miscue as Brett Hawrys took the puck off a Steam defender and deposited it over the glove of Steam starter Brett Huber.

Just when it looked like we were going to head for some Game 7 overtime, Morgan Johnston was able to add another for the Knights with just over 2 minutes to go, and that would spell the end for the Summerland Steam. Johnston would put another into an empty net to make the score 5-3 with 36 seconds left and officially eliminate the Summerland Steam from the 2013-2014 playoffs in a hard fought 7 game series.

THE SEASON THAT WAS


It truly was a remarkable season for the Summerland Steam, even though it started slowly. After 15 games the Steam were tied with Princeton for 5th in the division, and things weren't looking good as they were losers of 6 in a row. They would lose one more, a 3-2 loss to the Sicamous Eagles on November 1st to extend the streak to 7 before they were able to get things turned around.

Once they got it turned around, boy did they ever get it turned around. In the 36 games since the loss to the Eagles, the Steam were able to pick up 27 wins. They also added a tie and two overtime losses into the equation, giving them a record of 27-6-1-2. Points in 30 of 36 to end the season isn't bad, if I do say so myself.

This roll that the Steam got themselves on got them into a dogfight for first place in the Okanagan Division, a spot that most of the veterans on the team didn't think they'd be in when I talked to them earlier in the season. The wonderful run of solid play started from goaltenders Brett Huber and Darren Hogg and worked it's way out to the rest of the team, and they found a system under Head Coach John Depourcq and Assistant Coach Gregg Wilson that really tightened up the defensive zone and ensured they could push the pace offensively.

Whatever changes the team made on November 1 worked, as not only did it allow them to be in a position to win a division title on the last weekend of the season, but it won some players individual awards also. The Steam's co-leading scorer, Kienan Scott, was named the Okanadan Division MVP and the KIJHL Rookie Of The Year at season's end on the same night the Steam were presented with their Okanagan Division Championship banner.

Scott would be the only member of the Steam to win an individual award from the KIJHL this season, although in this broadcaster's opinion Steam goaltender Brett Huber was absolutely robbed of a 'Top Goaltender' award for the Okanagan Division. Nobody played more games (36) or had better numbers (2.70 GAA, .914 SV%) than Huber, but the award went elsewhere. It's a good thing awards don't tell the whole story, because there could have and should have been multiple for the Steam this season.

The end of the season also brings to an end the junior careers of the Steam's 5 20 year olds as Darren Hogg, Olli Dickson, Dylan Burton, Sam Nigg, and Josh Dacosta all ride off into the sunset together with a division championship to their credit. I know they would have loved to have continued their run towards the Cyclone Taylor Cup, just like every other member of the Steam, but at the very least they get to go out together.

All 5 are Penticton Minor Hockey graduates who played almost all of their minor hockey and most of their junior hockey together, and have been friends for there entire lives. That won't change, surely, as there are still many memories to make outside of hockey, but the hockey ones are pretty sweet.

WHAT'S NEXT?


The Summerland Steam organization will now take a break for about a month before beginning to prepare for the 2014-2015 season. Summerland Steam Spring Prospect Camp is held at the Summerland Arena April 4-6, while main training camp opens at the Summerland Arena on the last weekend of August.