When the Summerland Steam begin their weekend of Kootenay International Junior Hockey League action Friday in Kamloops, they do so without Morey Babakaiff, Bevis Chou, Cairo Rogers and captain Everett Scherger who are out due to suspensions. Head coach John DePourcq will also serve a one-game suspension.
Steam assistant coach Carter Rigby says he isn’t worried though.
“We have enough leadership, enough guys in the lineup we will be good to go,” says Rigby, who will share the coaching duties with assistant Tim Mills.
Rigby expects the line of Mitch Gove, Lane French and Cody Swan to lead the way.
“They will take charge and if those guys go, the rest of the guys follow,” says Rigby, adding the team will have two affiliate players in their lineup on defence along with 10 forwards.
It is an opportunity for others to step up. Brody Conroy is expected to see more ice with Chou out.
Against the Storm (14-18-0-1), the Steam are 1-1, the last game being a 4-2 loss. Mitchell Gove and Zack Cooper led the way with three goals against Kamloops, while Swan has four helpers. Rigby said they lost because the Steam were outworked.
With the Knights (13-22-0-1), who they host at the Summerland Arena at 7:30 p.m. sponsored by Telus, the Steam face a team that could have more jump after a coaching change that sees former NHLer Dean McAmmond take over the bench.
“Having him there, I’m sure he’s got them under some structure and they are winning a few games,” he said. “They are going to work every night.
“The last few times we played them, maybe we stooped down to their level, which isn’t what you want to do,” continued Rigby, as they lost 4-2. “We’re going to have to work that much harder with some key guys out.”
The Steam have two wins, an overtime loss and a regulation time loss. Swan leads the team with five goals against the Knights, while Linden Gove and Cairo Rogers each have three goals. Babakaiff leads with four assists.
Swan is currently on an eight-game point streak with 18 points. In his last 17 games, he has been held off the scoresheet twice. Rigby says Swan has his confidence back adding the Williams Lake product needed time to find chemistry with new linemates.
“It’s never easy, come back for your second year and you expect to kind of put the puck in the net like you did the year before,” he said.
Playing with Mitch Gove and French, who can finish well, is working out.
“I think he’s just confident playing with them and they are having some fun together,” added Rigby. “The stats are showing for their hard work.”
Fans can watch the Steam take on the Storm on www.playfullscreen.com at 7 p.m.