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Friday, 27 February 2015

UNTHINKABLE COMEBACK SETS UP CLINCHER FOR STEAM

If you were at the game last night or watched the game last night, you probably wanted to leave either the arena or the broadcast midway through the 2nd period.

I really hope you didn't.

If you did, you missed one of the most unthinkable comebacks I've witnessed in my years in hockey. Summerland got FAR from the start they wanted, but managed to come on strong as the game went on in order to pick up the unlikely victory in double OT by a 7-6 score.

GAME RECAP




Speaking with both coaches pre-game, we got the sense that special teams was going to dictate the play in Game 5. After all, it had done that all series for both teams and both coaches had worked on it with their squads in team meetings on off-days.

Kelowna had the fruits of their labour pay off right away on Thursday night, as Summerland got into penalty trouble early in the game and allowed the Chiefs out to a 2-0 lead. Both goals, one from Ethan Rusnack and one from Kevin Roth, came on the powerplay. Rusnack was allowed to corral a rebound to the left of Brett Huber and put one into an empty cage to open the scoring before a long, hard shot from Roth beat Brett Huber over the shoulder just a few minutes later.

Shortly after the Roth goal that put the Chiefs up 2-0, Dylan Jamieson picked off a Summerland clearing attempt and beat Huber on the blocker side. That goal came just :09 after the Roth tally and forced Steam Head Coach John Depourcq to use his timeout to settle his troops.

The tactical timeout worked, as just :34 after the Chiefs went up 3-0, Summerland's captain chimed in and inked his name on the scorecard. After some good work in the offensive zone to keep the puck down low, Paulsen Lautard found some room to walk out from behind the net with the puck. Instead of a tight wrap at the post to the right of Chris Turner, Lautard slid out about 6 feet and beat Turner with a hard shot that bulged the twine.

The goal gave Summerland some life, but they were unable to beat Turner again before the first intermission. In the second period it looked as though Summerland was going to come on strong as they had a good first shift and a half coming off the break. It was Kelowna, however, who scored the next goal. That goal came on the powerplay once again as Jonathan Lee banged home a rebound off a Braeden Cyra shot to Huber's left.

Cyra would then add a goal of his own, another powerplay tally, to take the Chiefs lead to a 4-goal spread. At that point, the lead looked insurmountable. From the press box we could see the Steam bench was dejected, down on themselves, and beginning to be disinterested.

It wasn't until late in the period on a GREAT shift from the Yukon Line that Summerland showed a little life. It didn't result in a goal, but it was the key to the turnaround in the outlook of the Summerland Steam. Good work from Riley Pettitt, Wyatt Gale and Jarrett Malchow caused Kelowna to begin to panic in their own zone, and it showed. On the shift after the good shift by the Yukon Line it was a rushed giveaway behind the net from Chiefs' Goaltender Chris Turner that resulted in a goal to make it 5-2.

The goal came from Cole Woodliffe, his first of the playoffs, after Turner rimmed the puck around the left-wing boards. Woodliffe was able to read the play, cut off the puck, and shoot it into a gaping net with 2:08 to play in the 2nd period.

After the Woodliffe marker, the Yukon line was put back to task and were finally rewarded for their efforts. Just 1:02 after the Woodliffe goal to make it 5-2, Riley Pettitt did solid work behind the net to get the puck out front to Jarrett Malchow. Malchow let a shot go, and the rebound bounced to the side of the net where Pettitt was there to knock it in, bringing the score to 5-3 after 2 periods.

In the third you could see the fatigue on some of the Kelowna players who have played heavy minutes in this series, particularly their defensemen. Summerland did a good job of dictating play with their forecheck, and were rewarded with a couple of goals. Braden Eliuk was first on the list to continue the comeback, as he took the puck off the half-wall on the powerplay and skated along the bottom of the circle. He found his way towards the front of the net along the bottom of that circle and chipped a puck short side over the shoulder of Chris Turner and under the bar.

All of a sudden it was 5-4 and Summerland was in control. It didn't take long, just :56 for Summerland to capitalize on a tired Kelowna group again. This time it was Tyson Klingspohn who found his way through traffic in front, took a pass from Cole Woodliffe and deposited it between the legs of Chris Turner to tie the game at 5.

Kendell Wilson would then give the Steam their first lead of the night with 5:09 to play on a powerplay. Lathan McKinney took the original shot that saw Chris Turner make an awkward leg save and kick the rebound into the slot. Wilson picked it up on the backhand and flipped it up and over the sprawling Kelowna goaltender to give his team the lead.

With Summerland in the driver's seat, they didn't let up. They continued to pressure Kelowna but were unsuccessful in extending their lead. In the final minute, they knew the push from the Chiefs would be inevitable. They did a pretty good job of holding Kelowna outside their blue line, but in the final :20 the Chiefs finally got deep into the Summerland zone. With :06 left on the clock, Dakota Kittle was able to slide a puck out from behind the Steam net and Braeden Cyra knocked in his 2nd of the night to tie the game at 6 heading to OT.

In the first period of OT (10:00 minutes), both teams had just a couple of shots as they tried to catch their breath. Neither team had much pressure in OT1 and headed into OT2 looking for the game winner.

We didn't have to wait long.

Just 2:25 into the second overtime frame, Summerland was able to "will one" past Chris Turner in the Kelowna net to win the game 7-6. It was Cole Woodliffe who scored the winner, and he did a good job of getting to the net, but in my mind it was Daylan Robertson that made it all happen. First, Robertson stuffed a Kelowna clearing attempt on the boards and forced them back into their own zone. Then, as Kevin Roth turned the corner behind the net and tried to make another clear, Robertson hustled across the line and made a body block on the puck to keep it in the zone. He then had a shot on net as Woodliffe and Paulsen Lautard headed to the front, and Woodliffe poked home the rebound to send the Summerland Arena into a frenzy.

As the Steam piled off their bench and onto Cole Woodliffe, Chiefs' goaltender Chris Turner had a bit of a fit at the top of his crease. He thought he was interfered with, and initially I thought so too. After watching the replay back, no interference was evident, and Summerland would stand as 7-6 winners.

It was an entertaining hockey game that you really had to see to believe, and we can expect more of the same tonight in Game 6 in Kelowna. The win on Thursday sets up a 'clincher' for the Steam on Friday in Kelowna. With a win they'll move on to play the Osoyoos Coyotes in Round 2 after the 'Yotes finished off their series with the Princeton Posse by a score of 6-3 on Thursday night.


Game 6 goes at 7PM and you can catch one of the best play-by-play callers on the league, Justin McCartney, with the call on KIJHL.ca. IF NECESSARY, Game 7 will go Saturday, February 28th at the Summerland Arena for a 7:30 start.