After what would be considered a 'Character' win over the Creston Valley Thunder Cats on Friday night by a score of 4-3, the Summerland Steam climbed on the bus and headed for Princeton on Saturday. Waiting for them after a 2-1 loss to Kamloops on Friday night were the Princeton Posse, looking for a rebound game to get back into the win column.
The combination of a Summerland win and a Princeton loss on Friday night brought the Steam to within 1 point of the 2nd place Posse, and with a chance to pass them in the standings and keep games in hand, they knew they needed to come out with a win on Saturday night.
One of the things that Summerland Head Coach John Depourcq mentioned in his post-game comments on our broadcast on Friday was 'weathering the storm' in the first period against the Posse, who play their home games in a small rink on a small ice surface. Not only did the Steam take his comments to heart, but they pushed early in the game, and got on the scoreboard just over 3 minutes in. The goal was the 8th of the season and first of 2 on the night for Jack Mills, as he took a puck off the left wing boards and threw it on net, having it find it's way past Posse goaltender Bailey Stephens on the short side.
The goal came just over 3 minutes into the first period, and it got the Summerland Steam off to a good start and gave goaltender Spencer Huff, a former Princeton Posse goaltender, a cushion to work with. Huff was strong in this game, allowing only 1 goal on 34 shots. That goal came just 6 minutes after the Steam opened the scoring on a rebound that took three whacks to get to the net. Eden Dubchak would get credit for the goal with an assist to Brandon Workun, and after one period the game stayed tied at 1.
In the second period the Posse came out strongly, but couldn't beat Huff in the Summerland goal. Summerland was sound defensively, not allowing many 2nd chances, and weathered the storm until they could find some offense near the mid-point of the period. With 8:52 to go in the 2nd, Kendell Wilson was able to locate a rebound to the left of Stephens and lift it over the sprawling goaltender for his 3rd of the season. Rylan Sideroff and Calvin Hadley would draw assists on what turned out to be the game winning goal for the road team.
Even though Summerland got the go ahead goal, it was Princeton who kept bringing the pressure and creating offense. They were unsuccessful, and Summerland would capitalize again with just over a minute to go in the period. Michael McEachern, who skates extremely well, was able to streak up the left wing on a 3-on-2 and find the trailer, Cody Egilson, who wired a shot past Stephens to extend the lead to 3-1.
In the third there wasn't much action to write home about, save for a spirited tilt between Kendell Wilson and Tyler Ehlers with 8:28 to go in the game. A fight in the last 10 minutes means Wilson will miss next Friday's tilt with the Kelowna Chiefs due to suspension.
After the fight, Princeton kept the pressure on, but were not successful in beating Spencer Huff. After he stood tall, Jack Mills would get his second of the night and 9th of the season into an empty net with just under a minute to go to seal a victory.
The Steam will head back to practice this week to prepare for a big divisional weekend next weekend as they host the Kelowna Chiefs on Friday and travel to play the Osoyoos Coyotes on Saturday. With Kendell Wilson suspended for the game against the Chiefs we might get another look at AP player Tristan Bukovec on Friday night. The kid they call "Buke" was very good in his debut vs the Creston Valley Thunder Cats on November 21st, and earned the praises of Head Coach John Depourcq as well as team management staff and ownership post game this past Friday.
This upcoming Friday night, November 28th is the Summerland Festival of Lights. For the first time since their inception in 2011-2012, the Steam will not be able to attend 'Light Up' due to a game. Because they wish they could be there when the lights come on at 7:00, the Steam will have $8 tickets available for everyone as well as FREE ADMISSION for all Summerland Middle School and Summerland Secondary School Students when they show their Student ID.
Look for an in-depth preview of next weekend's games mid-week right here on the blog, and make sure if you can't join us in the arena to join us for a full pre-game show starting around 7:15 ahead of a 7:30 start.