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Thursday, 4 December 2014

Steam Prep for Rockies

After a 2-0 win over the North Okanagan Knights on Tuesday, the Summerland Steam are set to host the Columbia Valley Rockies on Friday night. Though the score was close on Tuesday night vs the Knights thanks to goaltender Mitch Profeit, the game wasn't as close as the score would indicate. Summerland dominated the puck possession game all night long and ended up putting 32 shots on Profeit, who was good enough that he probably deserved at least a point for his team.

On Friday when the Rockies pay their only visit to the Summerland Arena, the Steam will look for the same type of work ethic. Like the Knights, the Rockies are in the midst of a tough season, collecting just 5 wins through their first 27 games. What doesn't come to your attention until you dive into the advanced stats is that Columbia Valley has only recorded one win away from 'The Eddie' in Invermere where they play their home games. That win came on October 4th in Armstrong against the North Okanagan Knights, so the Rockies will surely be looking to get back in the win column on the road when they come in on Friday.

The Steam and the Rockies have met once previously this season, in Invermere on October 18th. That game saw the two teams go back and forth, ending in a 4-3 OT win in favour of Summerland thanks to a game-winner from Riley Pettitt.

Since that meeting, both teams have made changes. For Columbia Valley, of the three goals scored against the Steam the last time they played, only one goal scorer remains. That player is Carter Melnyk, as both Doan Smith and Dondre Watson have moved on to other teams. Smith now plays his games with the Fernie Ghostriders, while Watson moved on to Jr A in the AJHL.

As for the changes the Steam have made, the last time these two teams played the Steam got 4 points from then-captain Paulsen Lautard. He has now moved on to play with the Trail Smoke Eaters in the BCHL, so the Steam will look elsewhere for some scoring punch on Friday night. Alex Kong was the goaltender of record in the overtime win for the Steam, and he has also moved on to play for the Abbotsford Pilots of the PIJHL.

For both teams, Friday is an important night. Both are looking to climb the standings as we near the midway mark of the season, and with the holiday break looming every point is important. Summerland is trying to distance themselves from the Princeton Posse and the Kelowna Chiefs while attempting to catch the Osoyoos Coyotes, while the Rockies are trying to climb out of the basement and back into the race in the Eddie Mountain Division.

Columbia Valley seems to be in the same boat as the Summerland Steam, battling a bit of an injury bug. Malcolm Fenelon, Taran Mathieson, Chase Anchikoski and Tyson Kapty are all listed as day-to-day on the KIJHL website, so we'll see if any or all of them end up in the Rockies' lineup when the puck drops.

As for Summerland, they'll likely be without Rylan Sideroff and Alex Williams for a 2nd straight game as they both recover from upper body injuries. Michael McEachern and Lathan McKinney, who also missed Tuesday's contest, will draw back into the lineup. Expect to see AP's Tristan Bukovec and Mitch Torrens again as well for the Steam in place of Williams and Sideroff. Both have played with the Steam this season and played well, both having no problem adjusting to the speed or intensity of KIJHL hockey.

The puck drops at 7:30 at the Summerland Arena, and you can pick up tickets in advance at Nesters Market or at the door prior to puck drop! If you can't join us in rink, join us on the KIJHL webcast at about 7:20 as I'll have a pre-game show on the go prior to game time!