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Wednesday, 21 January 2015

STEAM FALL JUST SHORT IN SHUSWAP

The Summerland Steam traveled north into the Shuswap on Wedensday night for a mid-week matchup with the Sicamous Eagles. In the only other game of the season series the Eagles picked up a 4-3 victory thanks to a good start and strong goaltending from Olivier Charest. Summerland went into the Sicamous & District Recreation Center looking for redemption and a series split with the Eagles, but their night didn't start off exactly how they'd planned.

Inside the first 1:30 of the game, Steam goaltender Spencer Huff had to make two magnificent saves. One of those saves came on a breakaway chance against the Eagles' Riley Jepson and created a 2-on-1 the other way for the Steam. They were unfortunately unsuccessful on that chance, and all chances at the net of Eagles' Patrick Kasper as he stopped 12 shots in the period.

The only goal of the period came from Justin Wilde midway through the first period after a defensive zone mistake from Summerland. After the Steam were unable to clear the zone, Devyn Myck was able to drop it off on a tee for Wilde to fire over Spencer Huff.

Though they were out to an early deficit, Summerland came back strongly and spent the majority of the rest of the period buzzing around the Eagles' net. The Steam were unsuccessful on their first powerplay of the game and looked better on their first penalty kill of the night in the final minute of the period as Paulsen Lautard had 2 breakaway opportunities broken up.

In the second luck seemed to turn in Summerland's favour. They put 17 shots on the net of Patrick Kasper while cashing in on two powerplays. First it was Braden Eliuk potting his 8th of the season from Cole Williams and Tyson Klingspohn. Then, just a few minutes later on another powerplay, Michael McEachern blasted a 48 foot slapper off the cross-bar behind Kasper and in for his 3rd of the season and 2nd in 3 games. Lathan McKinney and Jack Mills would draw assists on the goal that put Summerland ahead 2-1. Both goals came on powerplays in the middle of the frame while Summerland outshot the Eagles 17-8.

In the third the tide swung back in the favour of the Eagles. First they tied the game at 2 just under 4 minutes into the period thanks to a goal from Carter Hansen. Then on another defensive miscue on the part of Summerland, Owen Rowsell gave the Eagles the lead with 10:14 to go.

With Summerland pressing and the Eagles clearing the puck and changing, Cole Woodliffe was then sent in alone on Eagles' goaltender Patrick Kasper with 5:54. Woodliffe would make no mistake, potting his 22nd of the season five-hole to get the game back to square.

From that point on it looked as though both teams were destined for overtime, but if not for Steam goaltender Spencer Huff we wouldn't have gotten to 'free hockey.' Huff made several saves in the final 4 minutes, including a definitive 'best save of the season' with 1:26 to play. As the puck moved out of the corner to an open Eagle in the middle of the ice, Huff slid emphatically to his left to glove down a Ben Campbell shot that was destined for the top corner. We thought Huff had made his best stop of the season last Sunday with 4:35 to play in OT vs the North Okanagan Knights, and this save was eerily similar, although he came much further across to stop this puck. It was a game saver and it got the Steam a point despite some sloppy defensive play that caused the game to be tied at 3.

In OT the Steam had several good chances in 4 on 4 and 3 on 3. One of these, in 3v3, was a 2-on-1 that saw Cole Woodliffe have the time to look off Paulsen Lautard and shoot, but goalie Patrick Kasper was up to task.

The dagger would turn out to be a 2 on 1 for the Eagles when Riley Cardinal went to the front of the net and took a pass from Eagles' captain Nathan Grieve. Cardinal slid the puck through Huff to get the Eagles the extra point and send the Steam home disappointed.


THOUGHTS


- Summerland missed an open net and hit the post in the extra 10 minutes of play, and played well enough to win. They just couldn't find a bounce.

- It was good to see the Steam powerplay click a couple of times on the road after seeing their percentage dip to just 10.00%. They've had trouble of late getting shots through from the point and did a much better job of that tonight.

- Spencer Huff put forth another solid performace for the Steam and will make it a tough decision for Head Coach John Depourcq down the stretch to choose between he and goaltending partner Brett Huber.

- I thought Tyson Klingspohn had another good game for the Steam, as did Jack Mills, Cole Woodliffe and Paulsen Lautard.

- Klingspohn is as snakebitten as I've seen a player in my 2 years in the league having not scored in 16 games, but he's making strong plays and recording assists while bringing his best to the table. He's getting his chances and making good shots. Eventually he'll bump the slump.

- Being down to 5 Defenseman may have hurt the Steam a little bit as far as energy was concerned in the OT periods. Michael McEachern played A LOT on this night, and both Rylan Sideroff and Neslon Hurry, who have played forward a lot this season, stepped back onto the blue line to fill in.

- The Steam lost Calvin Hadley late in the 1st period of tonight's game after he was ejected for some reason. Hadley was assessed 2 minutes and a game misconduct for unsportsmanlike conduct, so it must have been something he said to the officiating crew.

- Patrick Kasper was by far the Eagles' best player on the night making 45 saves in the victory.

- Sicamous had their best players show up in key moments of this game, as did Summerland. Both teams had their top 9 forwards rolling all night long and Sicamous just happened to get the break at the end to win the game.


WHAT'S NEXT




The boys from Summerland will now look forward to a trip to Armstrong on Friday to play the North Okanagan Knights before boarding the bus AGAIN on Sunday for a 7PM start in Rutland against the Kelowna Chiefs in what could be a 1st round playoff preview. Summerland won't return home until Tuesday, January 27th at 7:30pm when they face the division rival Osoyoos Coyotes.