Nobody said it was going to be easy. Not by any stretch of imagination. Heading out on the road for 3-days is often not a simple task, and particularly so when a team has to go through Fernie, Kimberley and Creston. They are three of the toughest buildings in the KIJHL to play in, and the Steam found that out the hard way. They were able to salvage just a single point on their weekend swing, with an overtime loss on Sunday by a 4-3 score to the Creston Valley Thundercats.
It ended better than it started. The road trip kicked off Friday night as the Steam rode into Fernie for a battle with the Ghostriders. They were able to hang in for two periods, trailing 1-0 and 3-0 at period breaks, but ultimately fell by a 7-0 count. Former Steam forward Gavin Lawrie had a hat trick for the Ghostriders while Johnny Elias, Seamus Keith, Brennan Wingenback and Alaister Standen added singles. Ethan Fitzgerald stopped 31 Steam shots to record the shutout, while Eric Scherger took the loss for the Steam making 46 saves on 53 Ghostrider shots.
After a long bus ride all day Friday, it looked like the Steam were going to get away with no ‘bus legs’, as they came out with a purpose and held the Riders off early on. They were quite frankly unlucky to be down 1-0 after a period, and REALLY unlucky to be down 3-0 after two. Unfortunately, the long day and those pesky ‘bus legs’ caught up with them in the third, and the Riders were able to pour in four more goals to send the score soaring.
The Steam would follow up their loss in Fernie with a valiant effort at the Kimberely Civic Centre on Saturday night. Up against a high-powered Dynamiters squad who sat 2nd in the league coming into the game, the Steam were able to open the scoring thanks to an early goal from Zack Cooper.
Noah Eisenhut and newcomer Gavyn Entzminger did good work on the left wing side to free up a puck, and Entzminger found a wide open Cooper in front of the net. He beat Nitros goaltender Adam Andersen to give the visitors a 1-0 lead with his third of the season.
The Steam would hold the lead through the first intermission, but the Dynamiters came with a purpose in the second period. They scored three times to take a 3-1 lead to the third courtesy of veterans Mitch Fargey, KIJHL leading scorer Brock Palmer, and Brady Daniels.
The Steam showed great resolve in the third period, finding a way to battle back in a rink that’s near impossible to play in. They got goals from Reid Bateman (3) and Noah Eisenhut (4) to get the game tied with 12:45 to play, but a power play goal from Dynamiters defenseman Josh Maharchuk proved to be the difference. He scored with 8:05 to play in the third to give the Dynamiters a 4-3 lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Cam Russell would add an insurance goal for the Dynamiters, who won an extremely entertaining hockey game by a 5-3 score.
This is the second season in a row that the Steam and the Dynamiters have played a great, highly entertaining hockey game. Last year it was a western style shootout, with the Dynamiters picking up a 7-6 OT win in Summerland in a game that included a total of 10 power play goals.
Feeling a little better than they did leaving the rink on Friday night, the Steam felt they could roll into Creston on Sunday hoping to get two points in the getaway game of the road trip. They again opened the scoring early in the game on the road, this time thanks to Tyson Conroy’s third of the season. A long shot that found it’s way through traffic gave the Steam the lead with over 13 minutes to play in the first, but they couldn’t tack on before the Thunder Cats equaled the score. Trail Thompson was able to redirect a shot through the pads of Eric Scherger with just over three minutes remaining to tie the game at a goal each after a period.
Summerland would come out in the second and take a 3-1 lead thanks to a power play goal from Austin O’Neill (5) and an even strength marker from Cody Swan (7), but again the lead wouldn’t hold. Before the end of the frame the Thunder Cats got goals from Corbin Cockerill and Connor Swe were destined for overtime, and Summerland found themselves with a 5-on-3 in the extra frame. The Thunder Cats did a good job to execute a penalty kill when they needed it most, and were then subsequently gifted a power play when Ethan Grover was called for slashing. They were able to cash in on a point shot from Andrew Clark, coming away with a 4-3 victory.
In all, the trip didn’t go as poorly for the Summerland Steam as the results show it did. Picking up one of a possible six points isn’t ideal, but they were in two of three games until the bitter end and a bad third period nipped them in the other. The road trip will serve as a great bonding experience, a learning experience, and a way to bring the team together ahead of their next game where their competition doesn’t get any easier.
The Revelstoke Grizzlies roll into town on Friday to begin another 3-game weekend for the Steam. Summerland will play at home Friday before going to Armstrong to play the North Okanagan Knights Saturday. They’ll return home to play the surging Spokane Braves on Sunday afternoon at 2pm.