The Summerland Steam are hitting the road on Highway 97 Friday to take on the Kelowna Chiefs in Kootenay International Junior Hockey League play (KIJHL).
With 18 wins in 35 games, the Steam face their Okanagan Division leaders with 31 wins in 35 games. The Chiefs’ lone regulation time loss this season came against the Steam, 7-2 .
This is a game Steam head coach John DePourcq wants.
“I want to play the best teams. That’s what’s going to prepare you for playoff hockey,” he said. “Going into Kelowna is going to be an excellent hockey game. Kenny (Chiefs coach Ken Law) is going to have them fired up. They are going to be fired up.”
In four games against the Chiefs, the Steam are 1-3.
On Saturday, the Steam then travel to Revelstoke to face the Grizzlies, who lead the Okanagan’s Doug Birks Division. They are 28-4 in 32 games with 56 points. The only meeting between the teams saw the Grizzlies leave Summerland Arena on Nov. 24 with a 5-3 win. DePourcq said the Revelstoke Forum is a “tough barn to play in.”
Offensively, the Grizzlies are led by rookie Kaeden Patrick with 17 goals and 44 points in 31 games. Cody Flann has 17 goals and 41 points in 26 games. The Grizzlies have one 20-goal man in Ryan Pereversoff (20 in 30 games), and eight players with 10 goals or more. Their goalie Liam McGarva has 19 wins, which is second in the KIJHL, the third best goals against average at 2.16 and ninth best save percentage at .914.
Starting from the College Showcase weekend, DePourcq said he has received a team effort in terms of guys who have stepped up. He is eager to have Lane French back so he can get to know how to play with his teammates.
“My defence along with my goaltending as always you need them to be solid,” said DePourcq. “I believe I have a very good forward group of four lines that can compete.”
After this weekend, the Steam hit the road once again on Jan. 18 to face the Kamloops Storm, then return for a home game on Jan. 19 against the North Okanagan Knights. The Steam games this weekend area available on www.playfullscreen.com at 7 p.m.