On Sunday afternoon the Summerland Steam finished up a perfect week in Armstrong against the North Okanagan Knights. After a hard-fought 2-0 win over the Knights on Tuesday, the Steam came away with a slim 5-4 win over the Columbia Valley Rockies on Friday night. The boys then headed up the road on Sunday for a return matchup with the Knights and came home with a 3-2 win. Adam Jones recorded his first KIJHL goal in the first period on a shorthanded dump in, Riley Pettitt added a backhand beauty in the second frame, and Jarrett Malchow blasted his 2nd of the season past Mitch Profeit in the third. Malchow's tally would stand as the winner in the middle of the third period after North Okanagan got one to make the score 3-2. Brett Huber recorded the win in net, stopping 28 of 30 shots faced on the night.
Sunday's game was one of those ones where there was a lot going on without much actually going on that was worth noting. Wyatt Gale took an early shower after a fight with Austin Garrington in the first period, and Adam Jones and Mitch Lukacs did the same in the 2nd. The two teams combined for a whole lot of penalty minutes, as usual, but it seems as though the powerplay and penalty kill numbers on the box score don't quite match up to the score sheet as far as powerplay opportunities are concerned.
After the win on Sunday, there won't be much practice time for the Steam. It's the start of another three game week for the team, as they will travel to Kelowna on Tuesday before playing back to back home games on Friday and Saturday against the Chase Heat and the 100 Mile House Wranglers. These 3 games are equally as important as the 3 games last week, as Summerland tries to keep pace with the Osyoos Coyotes and close the gap between first and second. While they want to catch Osoyoos, they're also working at lengthening their lead over the 3rd place Princeton Posse and the 4th place Kelowna Chiefs by making full use of their games in hand.
Summerland will start the busy week and go toe to toe with the Kelowna Chiefs on Tuesday night as they make their first visit of the season to the Rultand Arena. They have already seen the Chiefs three times at home this season, winning all three at the Summerland Arena. Since the two teams last met, Kelowna has gone out to get some firepower, adding Ryan Swanson in a trade from Columbia Valley that sent Nick Evdokimoff to the Rockies.
The Chiefs also welcomed back one of the KIJHL's career leaders in points per game, Nick Josephs. Josephs returns from the BCHL's Salmon Arm Silverbacks after leaving the Chiefs for the 'Backs at the trade deadline last season. Josephs has not played a game yet for the Chiefs in 2014/15 as he has been sidelined with a hip injury. The Calgary, AB native played only 11 games for the Silverbacks before being released at the December 1st roster deadline. When healthy, he'll be an imposing figure in the lineup for the Chiefs and a player that every single KIJHL team will need to watch in their matchups headed forward.
Summerland's strategy won't change with the additions the Chiefs have made. As has been the case all season, the Steam will be looking to make sure they keep their defence tight and get all five guys on the defensive side of the puck as often as possible on Tuesday night. Now that every player on the Steam roster is finally healthy, it will make things easier for the coaching staff to set their lines and play the matchup game against their opponents best.
For the Steam, who head into Kelowna for the first time this season, they'll really have to make sure to keep their composure. It's an extremely tough building to play in with good crowds at every game, and with a very strong, physical team opposing them it'll be important to get a good start and make sure to stay out of the penalty box.
Faceoff is 7pm at the Rutland Arena, and you can catch all the action with Justin McCartney on the KIJHL webcast at www.kijhl.ca.