Coming out of the Holiday break, the Summerland Steam were hoping to build on the momentum they'd gained early in December and close the gap on the division leading Coyotes. Turns out they didn't get the results they wanted, gaining only 1 of 4 points, but the result shouldn't be what they takeaway from this series of games. What they should take away from these games is that they skated stride for stride with the best team in the KIJHL, worked their tails off for 120 minutes and outplayed the Coyotes for long stretches in both games.
Saturday night saw the Steam get out to an early deficit, as the Coyotes went up 1-0 in the first period on a long screen shot from Daniel Stone. The puck came in off the right point at the blue line, through a maze of bodies, and past Steam goaltender Brett Huber to give the Coyotes their lead. Summerland had their chances to tie it late in the first as they pushed in the offensive zone, but couldn't beat Brett Soles in the Osoyoos net.
The Coyotes would add to their lead in the second on a goal that NOBODY expected to count. After the Coyotes buzzed around the Summerland zone for several minutes, a shot came in that hit Brett Huber in the shoulder. It popped up in the air, and from behind the net, Rory Neary batted it down off of Huber's back and into the net to give the Coyotes a 2-0 lead.
The third period showed a big difference from the first 2, as Summerland came out and took the pressure to the Coyotes. They were able to tie the game thanks to two quick goals from Wyatt Gale and Jack Mills, and continued to pressure inside the Coyotes' zone for a third goal. They were unsuccessful, and just when it looked like the game was headed for overtime, referee McMahon pulled his whistle out for the first time on the night to call a soft boarding penalty on Jack Mills with 1:30 to go.
This put the league's best home powerplay to work and they made no mistake, as Troy Maclise was able to one-time a puck past Huber in the Summerland net with just :11 left on the clock to give the Coyotes the victory.
The loss left a sour taste in the mouths of the Summerland Steam, as they felt they were done a disservice on the part of the officials. Cody Egilson and Adam Jones received game misconducts at the end of the game, causing them to be suspended for Sunday night's contest. They were upset with the officials' penalty call on Mills with 1:30 to go, and were gesturing to the bench where their teammate, Riley Pettitt, was recovering from a cross check in the face that took place :08 before the Mills penalty.
Leading into Sunday night the Steam were obviously looking for some redemption. They played a heck of a game on Saturday night in Osoyoos, and came up short with just :11 on the clock. On Sunday they came out on fire. In the first 4 minutes it didn't seem as though Osoyoos got a stick on the puck at all, and Jarrett Malchow was able to put the Steam ahead just 5 minutes into the hockey game. Malchow took a pass from Riley Pettitt and peeled off the wall to the middle of the ice. He had one shot which was stopped by Brett Soles, but he followed up on his own rebound and buried it for his 4th of the season.
Malchow would get his 5th of the season in the final minute, with just :02 to play in the first period, as he got a shot off on the wing and again followed up on his own rebound. This put the Steam out to a 2-0 lead after one. The first period of Sunday night's game was an entertaining one with both teams giving each other a couple of powerplays and taking some liberties, which is expected when these two teams meet.
The second period was much different, however, as both teams were still taking liberties, but referee Bronson Tazelaar decided his whistle was not needed. In all, two Steam players and one Coyotes' player all left the game for various time periods after taking head contact with no subsequent discipline. Brett Jewell left the game after a hit in the corner from Calvin Hadley that went uncalled and very well could have been a major penalty. Both Brett Anderson and Jackson Dematos took special liberties for Osoyoos in the second period for the Coyotes, as they do every single time the two teams play. Both had four or five step charges go uncalled in the second period that could have also led to major penalties, causing a little bit of mayhem from both sides. One knocked Steam defenseman Michael McEachern out of the game while the other caused Wyatt Gale to miss three or four shifts in the middle of the period.
As for scoring in the period, Troy Maclise notched his 20th of the season to pull the 'Yotes within one. The goal came after some good work in the corner with Maclise eventually finding a lane at the top of the circle to the left of Steam goaltender Spencer Huff. He wired a shot high over the glove of Huff to give the 'Yotes some offensive punch to go with their physicality.
The Steam would restore their 2 goal lead on a powerplay near the middle of the period, as Nick Gnazdowsky was able to take a pass at the bottom of the circle to the left of Brett Soles. He made a sweeping power move out front and went five-hole on Soles to restore the lead and give the Steam some breathing room.
That breathing room would be erased in the third period though, as Rainer Glimpel scored two quick goals back to back to tie the game at 3 just 5 minutes apart. This seemed to settle both teams back down and snap them out of their spell of stupidity and actually focus on playing hockey. They would both get chances to score the go-ahead goal, but were not successful and we headed for OT.
In overtime, the Steam hit 3 goal posts. Those three posts are where this game should have ended. Summerland had their chances to not leave the game hanging in the balance for the officials to cost them, but they left it there. With 1:43 to play in 3on3 OT, Troy Maclise threw a puck to the front of the Summerland net where Jackson Dematos was driving hard. Instead of making a stop in front of the net, with the puck in his skates he bowled right into the Steam net taking himself, the puck, and Spencer Huff into the goal. As a referee, one would have the option to call this goaltender interference, or a kicking motion on the puck because it was BOTH. Instead it was called a goal, which sent the entire building up in arms. We couldn't believe what we saw and neither could Spencer Huff as he ended up flipping the net upside down in anger. Deservedly so, as he was robbed of a win or a tie in a game where he stood on his head.
In this hockey game there wasn't one team that was more at fault than the other. It was two teams doing battle in a rivalry that gets heated at the start of exhibition season. There should have been more called on both sides, no questions asked, and there definitely should have been some more thought go into the call the officiating crew made on the game winner. We've seen guys get game misconducts for less interference than we saw on that winning goal for Osoyoos. The two teams will do battle 3 more times this season, the next match being a Sunday afternoon matinee three weeks from last night in Oliver on January 18th. Faceoff goes at 1:35.
Summerland will now move on and try to get back to their winning ways in Princeton on New Years Eve. it's a 5:30 start from the 'OK Corral' in the Similkameen Valley. You can catch all the action with the Posse's Web Crew on KIJHL.ca