In both of those home games Summerland took some early penalties and allowed the Kamloops Storm and Osoyoos Coyotes to come into their building and 'blow the doors off'. Both teams chimed in with early goals en route to 5-2 and 6-2 wins respectively and sent the Steam home unhappy on Thanksgiving weekend. The loss to Osoyoos on Thanksgiving Monday sent the Steam to their 4th loss in 5 contests and was accompanied by a drop in the standings as Princeton made a move to 2nd place in the Okanagan Division. The boys left the arena that day knowing they needed to be better on home ice, and that's exactly what they'll try to be on Friday after a good road weekend and a week of practice.
11 days removed from the loss to the 'Yotes, the Steam are headed back inside the Summerland Arena. After playing in the Kootenays last weekend and picking up a 4-3 OT win in Columbia Valley and a convincing 5-2 win in Golden, the Steam's perspective is a little brighter heading onto home ice tomorrow night against the Chiefs.
The Steam have somewhat turned their fortunes around with a couple of wins, but will be in tough in their lone game of the weekend. Summerland comes into the contest winning their past 2 games, but they're going to be slightly shorthanded heading into this weekend's contest. The Steam will be without Rylan Sideroff who will serve the final game of a 3-game ban picked up near the end of a tilt with the Coyotes on Oct 13, and will also be without Calvin Hadley due to suspension as he serves game #1 of a 6 game ban for a Gross Misconduct picked up in Golden on Sunday.
The bodies don't stop dropping for the Steam with the 2 suspensions, as the Steam will be without veteran Kendell Wilson who will sit out the next couple of weeks with a lower body injury. Cole Woodliffe will also be out of the lineup for Friday's game as he joins the West Kelowna Warriors on their weekend trip to Vancouver Island.
In the wake of the suspensions and injuries that hit the Steam this week, it will be up to the rest of the roster to pick up the slack and ensure they don't let the Chiefs off easy when they come into the Summerland Arena on Friday. With the absence of Hadley on defense, expect youngsters Adam Jones and Lathan McKinney to see expanded workloads to go along with big minutes for Cole Williams, who has arguably been Summerland's most consistent defenseman in his own zone.
Up front look for the insertion of Wyatt Gale into the lineup to fill some of the void left by Woodliffe being temporarily unavailable to the Steam. Gale missed the trip to the Kootenays last weekend with the flu, and will certainly be ready to go after not playing in over a week.
Brett Huber will likely get the start at home for the Steam after picking up a 5-2 win in Golden last weekend. In that game he faced a fairly light workload, only seeing 22 shots in the victory and sometimes going 6 or 7 minutes without any action.
The Chiefs come in to The Station having lost 5 straight, including a 10-3 drubbing at the hands of the Kimberly Dynamiters on October the 12th. In their last contest they played the 2nd place Princeton Posse hard through sixty minutes, but came up on the short side of a 2-1 score. They're surely going to be coming into Summerland looking to 'right the ship' and get back to winning close hockey games and making teams pay the price with the body.
Kelowna is a big hockey team and they have several offensively gifted forwards including Jonathan Lee and Ethan Rusnack, the team's top 2 scorers. Despite the two being the Chiefs' only 'point per game' players, the Chiefs can put up goals with the top half of the KIJHL as far as Goals For numbers are concerned (3.14). Looking at those numbers, though, tells you that they have no problem scoring goals but seem to have trouble in their defensive zone. As a team through 14 games so far this season they've posted a 4.50 team Goals Against Average, which ranks 18th in the KIJHL.
The last time the Steam and the Chiefs played it ended in a 6-2 victory for Summerland, and it seemed as though the Chiefs had some trouble with the speed of the Steam to the outside off the rush. The Chiefs will no doubt have watched some video and be looking to avoid having that happen again on Friday night.
One thing is certain that you can expect from the Chiefs and that's that they'll come to play. They're going to bring the physicality and nothing will come easy for either team. It's sure to be a battle of two teams who really don't like each other and haven't been friendly for some time. Make sure to come out and support Junior Hockey in your community on Friday as the Steam host the Chiefs for a 7:30 start! Tickets are just $10 and will be available in advance at Nesters' Market in Summerland or at the door on game day!