In a must win game, the Summerland Steam got the start they wanted, but couldn’t finish off the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League‘s top team.
Bevis Chou and Lane French put the Steam up 2-0 at the Rutland Arena Thursday, but the Kelowna Chiefs netted four unanswered goals in a 4-2 victory, including an empty-netter. Jard Breitkreuz made 31 saves, while Braeden Mitchell turned aside 32 shots. Steam captain Everett Scherger was not able to play due to injury.
“I’m very proud of them. The last game is always hard for any team to win,” said Steam head coach John DePourcq. “The big thing I ask from the guys is to never give up, never quit. You fight right to the end and I was very proud of the boys to play hard, the way they came out in that first period to grab the lead.”
Chou scored his first goal of the playoffs at 7:05 on the power play. Less than a minute later, at 6:18, French his fifth of the post season. Collecting assists were Ty Banser, Cody Swan with two and Cory Loring.
The Chiefs hit the scoresheet when Ryan Allen was called for an infraction resulting in a penalty shot. Ryan Stack delivered for the Chiefs. The home team then scored twice on the power play in the final eight minutes of the second period. Sutton added the fourth Chiefs goal.
“The big difference in this series for us was the penalties,” added DePourcq. “Unfortunately in the second period there, we make some mistakes and they capitalized. They get the three power play goals, if you include the penalty shot they got from a slash on the hand. That was really the difference in the series.”
DePourcq also said the the mistakes are a result of the Chiefs’ talent level. Against the KIJHL’s top team, he stressed the need to be sharp. The Chiefs depth allows them to take advantage of opportunities given to them.
DePourcq felt it was a great year for the palyers. He felt they competed to the end and against teams like Kelowna and Revelstoke.
“As always, looking forward to the future of this team,” he said. “Next year will be a another solid year. I appreciate the support of the community.”
Mitch Gove, 17, was named the Steam’s playoff MVP. He followed up a tremendous regular season with eight goals and nine points in nine games before sustaining a season-ending injury early in Game 4 against Kelowna.
The end of the season also signifies the finale of junior hockey careers for four veterans.