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Thursday, 9 October 2014

STEAM WAIT FOR THE STORM TO ROLL IN




Rarely as a junior hockey player do you have both Friday and Saturday off during any given season. It's also considered a rare occurrence to have to play back to back afternoon games, but on this Thanksgiving Weekend the Summerland Steam will experience both of these things. While the rest of the division plays Friday, Saturday, and some Sunday, the Steam will play back to back afternoon affairs on Sunday (2PM) and Monday (1PM). 

First on the docket for the Steam is a meeting with the Doug Birks Division leading (and reigning KIJHL Regular Season Champion) Kamloops Storm. The two teams have faced each other once already this season, that being a 5-0 road win for Summerland in Kamloops on the Storm's Opening Night. On that night it was Brett Huber that secured the win for the Steam via a 43 save goose egg, and it looks as though he will start Sunday. He and goaltending partner Alex Kong have both been extremely sharp early in this KIJHL Season, as they hold the lowest combined Goals Against Average in the league and have stapled down the top 2 spots on the 'League Leaders' list of goaltenders over at KIJHL.ca. 

Here's a look at how the two teams stack up in the stats department heading into the weekend. These numbers could change before game time on Sunday as Kamloops plays 2 games between now and then, but here's how they sit heading into play on October the 10th. 



                   Summerland Steam                                                   Kamloops Storm.jpg

SUMMERLAND STEAM

KAMLOOPS STORM
6-3
W-L
6-3-0-1
3.56 (7th)
GF (Per GM)
3.80 (2nd)
1.89 (1st)
GA
2.70 (4th)
.930 (1st)
SV %
.882 %
16.22 % (9th)
PP
20.83 % (5th)
91.53 % (2nd)
PK
74.36 % (19th)
2nd
POWER RANK
Source: Nitros Night in Kimberly Blog Oct 6.
7th


If stats don't lie, the one thing the numbers would tell you is that the Steam need to find a way to put themselves on the powerplay early and often on Sunday afternoon. With the 19th ranked PK in the KIJHL (2nd last), it would seem that Kamloops has a bit of trouble while playing a man down, and the Steam would surely like to capitalize with the man advantage as much as possible. 

Unfortunately, finding powerplay opportunities isn't quite that easy. The Steam are going to have to do what they've done all season and find that physical line and play on it, and that part of the game is going to have to be led by newly minted Captain Paulsen Lautard. He and linemates Jack Mills and Cole Woodliffe have done a good job causing problems for the opposition in the offensive zone early in this season, and that will be imperative again this weekend.

The trio did a great job last weekend in the Kootenays at causing havoc in the offensive zone on the forecheck, and that is where they will need to succeed again on Sunday. They will likely be trying to cause problems for a defense corps of Kamloops who may have some 'heavy legs' after playing both Friday and Saturday nights, and it will be important for the Steam to get the puck low into the Kamloops zone and keep it there. 

On the defensive side of the puck for the Steam, it will be equally as important to stay out of the penalty box as it will be to try to get the Storm into it. Kamloops boasts the 5th best powerplay in the KIJHL and will not hesitate to find a lane and take a shot whenever possible. They also own the KIJHL's second most potent offense, right next to the team the Steam will host on Monday afternoon, the Osoyoos Coyotes. The Steam will have to be conscious of locking down their D zone and not allowing Kamloops to run around the zone on them. 


The puck drops at 2PM at the Summerland Arena on Sunday afternoon. Tickets are just $10 at the door or in advance at Nesters Market in Summerland. If you can't make it to the game on Sunday, be sure to catch Mike Swanson and I on the webcast at www.kijhl.ca