The Summerland Steam are pleased to announce the leadership group for the 2023/24 season ahead of Opening Night on September 22, 2023. Head Coach & GM Morten Kjolby along with his coaching staff have selected four players, two returnees and all four with junior hockey experience, to lead a young Summerland Steam squad through the rigors of the 44-game KIJHL season.
“Our new leadership group has shown both on an individual and a team level that they bring the things we’re looking for on a day to day basis,” said Kjolby, “They work their tails off, play from the heart and are committed to a positive, team first mentality. First and foremost they’re great people who are well spoken and willing to push not only the players but the coaching staff to be better each day.”
Keenan Conn will serve as the organization’s 11th captain in franchise history while Jacob Rausch, Noah Ouellette and Jasper Tait will serve as alternates. Conn, one of just a handful of returnees for the Steam in 2023/24, made a large jump during the offseason with regards to training and conditioning and has looked very good in training camp and the pre-season. The 19-year old from Beaumont, AB, played 43 of Summerland’s 44 games last season, collecting 9 points while playing a vital role in the bottom six and on special teams.
Rausch, who was acquired from the Kelowna Chiefs midway through last season, will factor as one of Summerland’s top defenseman in 2023/24, leading a young and largely inexperienced defense core alongside fellow alternate captain Noah Ouellette. Ouellette, who turns 20 on Saturday, spent last season with the Chilliwack Jets of the PIJHL and will be counted on to provide leadership and rock solid defensive play as the team’s lone 20-year old to start the season.
The fourth member of the leadership group, goaltender Jasper Tait, is a relative newcomer to the Steam. Tait, 19, joined the team last week in a trade from the Nelson Leafs where he spent last season splitting duties in goal. In his 25 appearances with the Leafs in 2022/23, Tait was steady providing a 3.18 GAA and .904% save percentage. The Prince George native is no stranger to the Summerland/Penticton area, having spent the 2021/22 season with the Okanagan Hockey Academy U18 prep program. While he may not end up wearing his letter on his jersey, Tait will serve as another veteran voice for a young team looking to make a statement early.
All four will make their 2023/24 debut alongside their teammates on Friday night at the Summerland Arena when the Steam host their home opener, presented by Penticton Kia, against the Grand Forks Border Bruins at 7:30PM. Doors will open at 6:30 and tickets are available at the door.