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Saturday, 29 November 2014


We knew coming into Friday night's matchup between the Summerland Steam and the Kelowna Chiefs was going to come down to special teams. It was a fact that was noted by both coaching staffs prior to puck drop, and both teams had chances to make the other pay with the man advantage on the night. It ended in a 6-4 score and a 5th straight win for the Summerland Steam, and this is how we got there:


It didn't take long for the two teams to wear thin of one another's presence on this particular Friday night. Chase Astorino and Calvin Hadley got themselves into it just 2:55 into the hockey game, each getting a 10 minute misconduct with Astorino picking up an additional two minutes for roughing. It took just :04 seconds on the powerplay for Riley Pettitt to win a faceoff to Michael McEachern, who tee'd one up for Lathan McKinney to hammer his 4th of the season past Chris Turner to give Summerland an early lead. 

That lead didn't last long, however, as Ethan Rusnack tied the game just 1:44 later. Rusnack was allowed to come down the right wing and beat his defenseman wide before he beat Brett Huber short side with a great wrist shot. The tying goal, Rusnack's team leading 14th of the season, turned the tide and Kelowna really brought the tempo to Summerland for the next several minutes. 

With Brett Huber standing tall in his crease while Kelowna buzzed around, it was Summerland who capitalized on an odd man rush. Against the run of play, Braden Eliuk fought his way up the right wing boards and moved the puck through a crowd to Cole Woodliffe, sparking a 2-on-0 for the Steam. As Woodliffe came down the right wing with the puck, he made a move around a sprawling Chiefs' defenseman to get the puck to Jack Mills. Mills had a yawning cage to put the puck into for his 10th of the season, giving the Steam a 2-1 lead near the midway mark of the 1st period. 

For the next five minutes or so there wasn't much action to make note of, but with 5:54 left on the clock in the first period, Dakota Kittle gave us all something to talk about. It wasn't the good kind of things we like to talk about, in fact it was exactly the opposite. As the play came to a stop in front of Chris Turner a crowd formed in front, and Rylan Sideroff came together with a Kelowna player. As they began to separate, Kittle came out of nowhere with a high cross-check to the throat of Sideroff, sparking nothing but a health scare for the Summerland Steam forward. Sideroff immediately dropped his stick and gloves and clutched his throat, and the look in his eyes told everyone in the building he could no longer breathe. He rushed to the bench and down the tunnel where the Steam's medical staff took care of him and got him back to a point where he was no longer in danger.

As for Kittle, he was escorted to the penalty box and after some deliberation he was sent to the dressing room after receiving 5 and a game for a cross check. There should undoubtedly be a suspension involved too, as it was one of the most vicious cross checks seen inside the arena. At first some might have thought I was biased and maybe a little rough on Kittle in-broadcast, but after talking to several fans both from Kelowna and Summerland in the building, I knew it wasn't just me.

Regardless of if it warrants a suspension or not, it did give Summerland a 5 minute powerplay to work with, and they made it count. After Riley Pettitt scored his 6th of the season off a rebound at 3:51, Nelson Hurry buried a hard wrister behind Chris Turner from about 40 feet. Hurry's 3rd of the season gave Summerland a sizeable 4-1 lead heading to the 2nd period, and they looked to build on it early.

At the start of the second period Summerland came out with a purpose. They continued to drive shots on net like they had in the first, but Turner stood tall. The period was chopped up by a couple of penalties, but it had a fairly slow pace overall. Kelowna was able to get two goals just over 3 minutes apart to cut the lead to 4-3, as a Kevin Roth shot found it's way through Huber at 13:38 before Josh Kobelka capitalized on a nifty pass from Braeden Cyra at 10:34 on the powerplay.

Heading to the third Kelowna had the edge, and were pushing to get the game tied up. Their hopes were dashed, though, when at 16:28 the Summerland Steam scored while at 4on4. After stealing the puck in the neutral zone, Summerland Steam AP Nathan Iannone put a puck to the net, and it got past Chris Turner. Iannone was awarded an assist as the referees deemed the puck went off Tristan Bukovec, another AP from OHA. Regardless of who scored it and who assisted it, the AP line got the Steam their 2 goal lead back and didn't relinquish it. 

Austin Braid was able to bring the Chiefs back within 1 at the 13:42 mark, but Wyatt Gale potted his 6th of the season with 4:34 to go to restore the 2 goal lead and avoid the late push from the Chiefs. 

With all the goals in this game, you wouldn't think the highlight would be a fight, but indeed it was. Calvin Hadley and Chase Astorino were after one another from the drop of the puck on this night, and they finally got their chance to dance with 15:38 to play in the 3rd period. It was a spirited tilt, probably the best I've seen as a broadcaster, between two big bodies who had no problem standing there and throwing haymakers. Hadley got the best of Astorino early in the fight, but Astorino did well to stay on his feet and eventually take Hadley down. 

This fight was one of two on the night, as Nelson Hurry and Josh Baird got into a very short-lived tilt a few minutes later that resulted in 1 or 2 punches being thrown before both guys went to the ice. 

In the end the game finished in a 6-4 final in favour of Summerland, who now move on to face the Osoyoos Coyotes at the Sun Bowl in Osoyoos on Saturday. They expect to have newcomer Tyson Klingspohn in the lineup when they take to the ice for warm-up, as he will meet the team in Osoyoos after driving from Kimberly. 

Alex Williams will miss his 2nd game in a row, and Calvin Hadley will serve a 1 game suspension for accumulated fighting majors. Kendell Wilson will also draw back into the lineup for the Steam after serving a 1 game suspension, and Riley Pettitt will likely be a game-time decision. 

Puck drop is 7:35, and you can catch all the action on with Tom Shields.