|Photo: Sarah Mayer|
It was supposed to be a weekend for the Summerland Steam to gain some ground in the Okanagan Division standings. With 2 tough opponents coming into the building on Sunday and Monday the Steam knew they were in tough, but with both the Kamloops Storm and Osoyoos Coyotes playing 3 games in the better part of 3 days the Steam thought they might be able to come away with 4 points.
Instead, the photo on the left depicts exactly how the Steam came up: Empty.
With most of the team having their parents and siblings in town to celebrate the Thanksgiving weekend, the Steam took to the ice on Sunday afternoon against a Kamloops Storm team who had won 4 of their last 5 and were coming in fresh off a loss at home on Saturday night. It was evident early on which team had spent the week recovering from a flu bug. The Steam had one good chance off the stick of Wyatt Gale on the opening shift of the hockey game, but beyond that it was nearly all Kamloops.
David Larouche would open the scoring for the Storm on the powerplay before Mitch Friesen would add another shortly after. Both goals would come on the powerplay as Summerland was unable to stay disciplined against a bigger, stronger Kamloops team.
The Storm were helped by an extended 5-on-3 in the middle of the period, including a high sticking call on Summerland's Michael McEachern that wasn't assessed until after a goal was scored nearly a minute after the infraction took place. During that minute, a stoppage occurred with no arms raised before Kamloops captin Felix Larouche inquired with referee Mike Langin, who then assessed the penalty after the Kamloops goal had been scored. In all my years of being around a rink and the game of hockey, I'd never seen anything like it and am still quite bewildered by it, to say the least.
While on the 5-on-3, David Larouche would collect his second of the night to extend the Storm lead to 3-0, while also deflating whatever was left of the confidence for the Summerland Steam. Wyatt Gale would find the back of the net to cut the lead to 3-1 with 2:03 to go in the frame, giving the Steam a faint flCcker of some light at the end of the penalty filled tunnel.
That wouldn't last long, though, as the Storm's Brayden Dale would have a shot find it's way past Brett Huber to extend the lead back to 3 goals and spell the end of Huber's night. Alex Kong would come in relief of Huber, and allow one more (Mark O'Shaughnessy in the 3rd period) on the 12 shots he faced.
Coleton Fisher would cut the lead to 4-2 again late in the second, but the O'Shaughnessy goal in the 3rd would close out the scoring to make it 5-2 for the Kamloops Storm.
After a disappointing start to their Thanksgiving weekend, the Steam were looking for a bounce-back performance on Monday afternoon against the league's best team, the Osoyoos Coyotes. The Coyotes had previously been 10-0 coming into the weekend before being stopped on consecutive nights by Sicamous and Chase. With one of their biggest rivals coming into town having lost their last 2, Summerland was looking to come out early and use the body on the Coyotes and create some opportunity.
Unfortunately, the only opportunity that throwing the body was able to give the Steam was the opportunity to sit in the penalty box while the league's best powerplay went to work. After a period the Coyotes led 4-0, and after two the score read 5-1, with the third period ending in a 6-2 'Yotes win.
Jackson Dematos was making his return for the Coyotes after missing the past 7 games due to a lower body injury, and made his presence known by collecting a hat trick in his first game back.
The top 2 lines for the Coyotes were on fire on this particular afternoon, as Rory Neary collected 4 points (1G, 3A) and Rainer Glimpel added 5 points in the victory. Daniel Stone and Brett Jewell would record the other Coyote goals in the victory, while Cole Woodliffe and Paulsen Lautard connected for the Steam.
Lautard's goal was especially pretty, as he took a long lead pass from Michael McEachern and made a forehand, backhand move to beat Coyotes' goaltender Lawrence Langan late in the 3rd period. Not long after the goal, Steam forward Rylan Sideroff was assessed a 5 minute major for a check to the head and a game misconduct after a decent sell-job from 'Yotes captain Troy Maclise, who was well enough after the hit to play nearly 4 minutes of the 5 minute power play.
The Steam will now take to the road again, as next Saturday night they will play in Invermere against the Columbia Valley Rockies before moving on to Golden to play the Rockets on Sunday afternoon at 4:30. You can catch all the action on the KIJHL Webcast at www.kijhl.ca. The Steam return home for a 7:30 start on October 24th vs the Kelowna Chiefs.