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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

STEAM PREPARE FOR THUNDER CATS

After only one game last weekend (a Sunday night win over Kimberly) the Summerland Steam have been working at practice all week in preparation for the Creston Valley Thunder Cats on Friday night. The two teams met once previously this season, just over a month ago at the Johnny Bucyk Arena in Creston. That Sunday afternoon game resulted in a 5-2 Summerland victory and got the Steam back in the win column at the end of a long Kootenay road trip.

SUMMERLAND STEAM


In 11 games since their first Kootenay swing, the Steam have gone 6-5, but have maintained their high shot totals and possession stats. Summerland is looking to string some wins together, and after winning their past 2 they'd surely like to finish this weekend with wins over the Thunder Cats and the Princeton Posse (in Princeton on Saturday).

For Summerland it will be important, as it is every night, to drive wide with their speed and create offense both off the rush and on the forecheck. Head Coach John Depourcq and General Manager Gregg Wilson have assembled a group capable of creating offense using both of those methods, and now that the injury ward is all but empty the Steam will be back to a near full squad on Friday.

Wyatt Gale is expected to return to the lineup after missing Sunday's contest with a lower body injury, and Jarrett Malchow is expected to take a regular shift after being eased back into the lineup on Sunday after being out with a flu. Those additions will add to Riley Pettitt, Calvin Hadley, and Kendell Wilson, all who returned to action against Kimberly on Sunday. Braden Saretsky will likely be the only body missing from the Steam lineup as he sits the final game of a 2 game suspension for a hit to the head that he picked up against North Okanagan on November the 9th.

If Summerland wants to be successful in this hockey game, it's important for them to stay out of the penalty box. Particularly in the early parts of games, Summerland has put themselves a man down WAY too often, and in their last few games they've been steadily decreasing the number of early penalties.

CRESTON VALLEY THUNDER CATS

After a strong season last season that saw the Creston Valley Thundercats collect 80 total points and win their division by 10 wins and 20 points, there were some changes made. The coaching staff moved on to higher level junior as did some of their players, and a new era started this off-season with the hiring of Head Coach / General Manager Jeff Dubois.

Dubois' resume is impressive coming from Selkirk College in the BCIHL, where he led his team to an undefeated home schedule and a 20-3-0-1 record in 2013/14. The defense-first strategy that Dubois employed with the Saints last season (53 GA in 24 GP) led to a league championship after sweeping Trinity Western University 2-0 in a 3 game series. It of course helped that they scored at a +80 differential (133 GF) during their regular season, but as the old saying goes, defense leads to offense.

Coming into his first season with the Thunder Cats, Dubois had a small core of returning players (6) to work with. To go along with those 6 returnees, the 'Cats have added some experience to this season's team by acquiring Nicholas Kovacic from the Kelowna Chiefs and Trevor Beaton from the Princeton Posse. Both players played in the KIJHL last season and provide some experience and grit for Dubois and his staff to work with.

With an early season record of 11-8-1-3 the 'Cats sit in a tie for 3rd in the Eddie Mountain Division and are 6-3-0-1 in their last 10. Trying to climb the standings, they embark this weekend and come to the Okanagan to play two games, Friday in Summerland and Saturday in Osoyoos.

I wouldn't speculate as to who might start in goal for the 'Cats on Friday night with them playing back-to-back games, but no matter who starts Summerland will have to work hard to put pucks in the net. Both Brock Lefebvre and Mitchell Martell have been good for the 'Cats this season, who sit 6th in team GAA nearing the midway point of the season. While Creston doesn't score with the top of the KIJHL, they defend well, and it allows them to win close games.

As you'll see in the numbers breakdown, both teams might have a tough time scoring goals in this hockey game, as these are two of the best defensive teams in the KIJHL.

All the numbers you need to know are right here:


                                         
SUMMERLAND STEAM
VS
CRESTON VALLEY THUNDER CATS
12-7-0-1
RECORD
11-8-1-3
6-3-0-1
HOME / AWAY RECORD
5-5-0-2
6-3-0-1
LAST 10
6-3-0-1
3.55 (8th in KIJHL)
GOALS FOR
3.00 (T-16TH IN KIJHL)
2.55 (1st)
GOALS AGAINST
3.04 (6TH)
+20 (6th)
DIFFERENTIAL
-1 (13TH)
17.02 % (9th)                      
16 GF/ 97 PP’S
POWERPLAY
11.34 % (17TH)               
11 GF/ 97 PP’S
        86.07 % (6th)                      
17 GA/ 122 PK’S
PENALTY KILL
82.67 % (13TH)                
13 GA/ 75 PK’S
3RD, Okanagan Division
DIVISION RANK
T-3RD, Eddie Mountain Division
COLE WOODLIFFE
 (11g, 9a = 20 pts)
LEADING SCORER
CARSON CARTWRIGHT
(9g, 12a = 21 pts)