In a potential Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) first round matchup, the Summerland Steam will be eager to get a win over the Princeton Posse (15-25-1-0-3) Saturday.
The Steam (23-19-2-0-2) lost 3-2 earlier this month to the Posse in Princeton, and will use home ice advantage at the Summerland Arena (7:30 p.m.) to get that victory.
Steam head coach John DePourcq, who earned his 200th career KIJHL victory Wednesday against the Osoyoos Coyotes, wants to see all his lines competing.
“There is a system and a way we want to play,” says DePourcq, winner of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Rookie of the Year in 1987-88 with Ferris State, of what he wants from his group with three regular season games remaining before playoffs.
DePourcq wants consistency which will lead to team success in the playoffs. It’s about limiting opportunities and eliminating odd man rushes. “Make sure we are playing smart, playing disciplined,” he says. “Playing a system and playing it well so you are not giving teams opportunities to change the momentum in games.”
DePourcq talked about the big picture and the most important thing being the Steam doing the little things consistently. The Steam have dealt with suspensions (captain Everett Scherger returns for the regular season finale on Feb. 23 in Osoyoos) and injuries that have forced different line combinations. DePourcq sees the changes as a great opportunity for players to step up with more ice time. He wants everyone firing on all cylinders heading into the playoffs.
“In seven games, you are going to go through lots of things. They are going to happen quickly,” he explains. “You need someone to step in and play, the more depth you have, the better off you are going to be. That is the mindset, you are always playing for something.”
Coming back to DePourcq and his KIJHL milestone win, the coach doesn’t like talking about himself, saying his days are over.
“It’s more about the kids,” says DePourcq, a Pittsburgh Penguins selection in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft. “It’s nice to win obviously. That’s why you play the game. More importantly, it’s nice to be passing on great experiences that I have been fortunate to have in hockey. I was fortunate enough to learn from my coaches and the experiences I went through. It’s nice to be able to pass those onto the kids. When you have success doing it, that makes it definitely worthwhile.”
Tickets to Saturday’s game are $10 for adults, $8 students/seniors and $25 for family packs. For those unable to attend, it can be viewed on www.playfullscreen.com.