On Saturday night, the Summerland Steam headed south on highway 97 to start the Okanagan Division Final against the Osoyoos Coyotes.
It was a matchup featuring the best in the division. Game 1 featured a fast pace and was hard fought. It was just a different result than fans have come to expect from this season series, with the Steam coming out on top 5-0.
The Steam led 2-0 after the first while being outshot 17-6. Wyatt Gale got the Steam on the board with 10:51 remaining thanks to some good forechecking. Gale did a good job to get the puck into the Coyotes zone and forced the retreating defenceman to make a rushed play up the right wing boards. Steam captain Paulsen Lautard beat his man there and wrapped the puck behind the Coyotes’ net. Riley Pettitt retrieved the loose puck and passed it to Gale who beat Brett Soles. Michael McEachern added to the lead just over three minutes later. He found himself in the slot with the puck and an open net thanks to a lucky bounce. After Braden Eliuk (the birthday boy) won a draw in the offensive zone, Keenan Scott had a shot at the net from the right point. It bounced off a player in the circle and fell to McEachern.
It’s the fourth game in a row Summerland found themselves with a 2-0 lead, and this time they were able to hold onto it. A large part of the reason was because of Matt Kostiw, who was outstanding. He was equally good in the second, stopping all nine shots that came his way while Summerland added another goal. Stephen Heslop came out to replace Brett Soles to start period two. Summerland scored their third goal with 4:26 remaining in the second. This one came on the power play and was Gale’s second as he beat Heslop with a backhand, top corner near the right post.
In the third period Kostiw would continue “seeing beach balls” stopping all nine shots he faced, and 35 in total. Gale recorded his hat trick with 11:37 remaining in the period making a nifty little move in front of Heslop. Calvin Hadley would then step into a shot from the point in the closing moments and beat Heslop with a low, hard shot.
Game 2 is tonight at the Osoyoos Sunbowl at 7:35 p.m. Games 3 and 4 shift to Summerland at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday.
-With files from the Trolley Talk blog.