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Saturday, 6 December 2014

STEAM GET UP EARLY, HOLD OFF ROCKIES

Summerland Steam defenseman Michael McEachern &
Columbia Valley Rockies Forward Sam Young engage in fisticuffs
in a December 5th game at the Summerland Arena.
Photo Credit: Sarah Mayer
For the second game in a row, the Summerland Steam were set to play a home game against a team with less than 6 wins on the season on Friday night. That team, the Columbia Valley Rockies, had only one road win all season coming into Friday's contest, but they didn't play like it. From the very beginning the teams were evenly matched, with both teams getting some opportunities early in the hockey game. The game ended in a 5-4 Summerland victory, but it was an adventure getting to the final score as Summerland at one point held a 4-1 lead in the third period before enduring a comeback from the Rockies.

GAME STORY


From the drop of the opening faceoff, the Summerland Steam seemed to have the Columbia Valley Rockies under control. Summerland started with early pressure in the offensive zone and were rewarded just under 6 minutes in thanks to Braden Eliuk's 5th of the season. Eliuk was able to cruise down the middle, take a pass from Riley Pettitt and bury a shot through the five-hole of Rockies' starter Patrick Ostermann. 

It looked as though Summerland had the game under control and were about to build on their lead right after the goal, but just 1:16 later newly acquired Columbia Valley forward Kale Johnston scored his first as a member of the Rockies to tie the game at 1. After a dump in and a good forecheck by the Rockies, the puck popped loose into the high slot where Johnston found it and one-timed it through Steam starting goaltender Spencer Huff.

After the goal to tie the game at 1, Summerland was given their first powerplay of the game, and connected on Jack Mills' 11th of the season. After a bit of passing back and forth the puck came to Mills on the right wing where he fired one past Ostermann to regain the lead for the Steam. 

Leading 2-1, both teams had a couple of chances as the intensity began to amp up. Tension began to mount, and with 7:05 to go in the first period it boiled over as Michael McEachern and Sam Young had a spirited scrap that saw both sent off to an early shower. It started with a clean hit that Young took exception to, and it looked like it was going to pass without incident until Young took a lumberjack swing at the back of McEachern's legs a little under a minute later. McEachern of course took exception to the attempt to chop his legs off, and the two got into a long, spirited tilt that saw Young take the extra 2 for slashing to put the Steam on a 5-on-3. 

While on that powerplay they would capitalize, as Riley Pettitt took a pass from Lathan McKinney and buried his 7th of the season past Ostermann to extend the Summerland lead to 3-1. They would take the lead into the intermission, and come out looking for more in the 2nd frame.

In the first couple of minutes of the 2nd, the Steam had good pressure in the Rockies' zone and were rewarded with another goal, this time Cody Egilson with his 4th of the season on the powerplay. Egilson took a pass on the half-wall and was able to curl out and take a shot at the net. His initial shot was stopped by Ostermann, but the rebound popped up and landed at the side of the net for Egilson to chase down and bang home to extend the lead to 4-1. This ended the night for Patrick Ostermann, as Giovanni Sembrielaz would take over the crease for the Rockies. He got a rude welcome from the Steam, as on the first shot he faced Braden Eliuk beat him with a hard wrist shot low to the glove side, but the goal was called off and Riley Pettitt was given a penalty for goaltender interference. Instead of going up 5-1, Summerland took to the penalty kill and successfully knocked the 2 minutes off the board. 

The Egilson goal ended up rounding out the scoring in the period, but it didn't end the fireworks. After Jack Mills and Columbia Valley's Nick Evdokimoff were given 2 minutes each for yapping at one another, the Rockies' defenseman was given a Gross Misconduct by referee Shane Hillman for an obscene gesture and vulgar language towards the scorekeepers that separated he and Mills at the penalty bench.

Evdokimoff was ejected in the same situation with the same off-ice officials last week while still playing for the Kelowna Chiefs. He was traded two days later to the Rockies in exchange for Ryan Swanson. 

Looking ahead to the third period it looked as though the Summerland Steam were comfortable with a 4-1 lead. To begin the third, Braydon Barker cut the lead to 2 just under 3 minutes into the period before Kellen Marchand made things interesting at the 14:29 mark pulling the Rockies to within 1.

Columbia Valley did a great job of coming back in the third period on this night, and looked like they were going to push to tie the game until the 3:11 mark of the third when Coleton Fisher was able to locate a loose puck in front of Sembrielaz and poke it home to restore a 2 goal lead for Summerland. 

Malcolm Fenelon would get a late one for the Rockies with 1:36 remaining, but the 2 goal lead was insurmountable as the Steam went on to take the final 5-4. 

A FEW THOUGHTS

- Braydon Barker and Kellen Marchand were the best Rockies on this night, no question about it.

- Giovanni Sembrielaz was sold in relief of Patrick Ostermann and gave his team a chance to come back and make this game close.

- Coleton Fisher was good for Summerland, once again, as he's turned into a very valuable piece for Head Coach John Depourcq, particularly in the defensive zone. Not only did he notch the game winner, he was arguably Summerland's best in the faceoff circle as well.

- AP players Mitch Torrens and Tristan Bukovec didn't look out of place for Summerland, once again, as they filled in for the injured Alex Williams and Rylan Sideroff. 

- Spencer Huff looked good again in his 2nd straight start, coming off a shutout on Tuesday of the North Okanagan Knights. He made 25 saves on 29 shots in Friday night's win, but came up big when his team needed him in the 3rd period to secure the win.

- Jack Mills continued his strong play and big-time point production, as he busted a slump a couple of weeks ago and has put up 9 Pts (5g + 3a) in his last 6 games.


WHAT'S NEXT


No rest for the wicked, as Summerland plays their 3rd game of the week Sunday afternoon in Armstrong against the North Okanagan Knights. Puck drop is 3PM at Nor-Val, and you can catch all the action at www.kijhl.ca. The Steam then go to Kelowna to play the Chiefs on Tuesday, December 9th, and return home for back-to-back home games on Friday and Saturday against the Chase Heat and the 100 Mile House Wranglers. Both games will be a 7:30 start.