On Friday night inside the Summerland Arena, the Summerland Steam opened their 2014/15 KIJHL season with a bang. Right from the opening faceoff the play was controlled by the home team and the Steam spent the better part of the first five minutes circling the Chiefs zone. All the pressure in the offensive zone ended up biting the Steam, however, as Kelowna would open the scoring when Ethan Rusnack was handed the puck by a Steam defender between the circles and beat Brett Huber with a nifty deke to the blocker side.
Just a few minutes later, Summerland was the benefactor of an early powerplay and tied the game on a beautiful wrist shot courtesy of Braden Saretsky. The Steam would add to their lead in the final minute of the first period when Kendell Wilson drove the net hard, drawing two Chiefs to him as the puck came out front. He was able to bang it home behind Chiefs' goaltender Chris Turner through a maze of bodies to give his team the lead heading to the second period.
The first period was marred by penalties, as both teams took their share, including a Kelowna 5 on 3 to start the second period after the Steam took back to back delay of game penalties for shooting the puck over the glass in the defensive zone.
After a quick kill to start the second, the Steam got another goal, as Saretsky chipped in yet again for his 2nd goal and 3rd point of the game. Cole Woodliffe would then add another in quick succession to give the Steam a 4-1 lead in the middle of the second period.
The Chiefs would then cut the lead to 2 after Kelsey Byrne made good on a slap shot from 50 + feet as referee Jeremy Siltzer blew the whistle as he took the shot. The goal stood after some deliberation, and the second period ended with the Steam leading by a score of 4-2.
To start the third, the Steam came out rolling. Paulsen Lautard would chime in with his first of the season on the Steam's first shot of the final frame, beating goaltender Chris Turner high to the short side. It was a wicked shot that Lautard had no business making from the angle he was at, but found a way to get it up over Turner and into the back of the Kelowna net.
As the third went back and forth, things began to get tense as they usually do between the two teams. It felt like a mid-season tilt after the teams had seen each other a couple of times, even though it was the first game of this extremely young KIJHL season.
After a few penalties back and forth, Jack Mills would add to the Steam lead and score the final goal of the game to make it 6-2. Mills showed the skill that brought him to the Steam and got into an area to make a clean shot, beating Turner high and to the glove side from a sharp angle.
This rounded out the scoring for the night, with the final shots on goal coming in at 31 for Summerland and 25 for Kelowna.
3) Ethan Rusnack, Kelowna Chiefs (1G)
2) Paulsen Lautard, Summerland Steam (1G, 2A)
1) Braden Saretsky (2G, 1A)
The Steam will hit the road to play in Kamloops tomorrow night, before being on the road next weekend as well. We will re-convene inside the Summerland Arena on September 21 vs the Fernie Ghostriders.