KIJHL: Steam, Coyotes rolling early on

The Summerland Steam and Osoyoos Coyotes have strong start to their Kootenay International Junior Hockey League seasons.

The Summerland Steam.

The Summerland Steam.

The Summerland Steam sit atop the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League with the Creston Valley Thunder Cats.

Both have 16 points, but the Thunder Cats have played nine games compared to the Steams’ 11. The Steam, 7-2-0-2, also hold a two-point edge on Okanagan divisional rivals, the Osoyoos Coyotes and Kelowna Chiefs, who have played three and two games fewer, respectively.

The Steam host the Princeton Posse, 3-8-0, Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Summerland Arena. The two teams played on Oct. 9 with the Posse besting the Steam 3-1. Riley Pettitt scored the Steam’s lone goal on the power play, set up by Scott Robinson and Cole Williams. Matt Huber turned aside 18 shots in the loss.

Heading into this weekend’s action, Pettitt leads the Steam with nine goals and 15 points in 11 games. Their top threat from the blue line is Cole Williams with two goals and seven points. In goal, Huber has five wins in nine games with a 2.55 goals against average and .894 save percentage.

After Friday’s game, the Steam will travel to Revelstoke to take on the Grizzlies, 4-4-0.

The Steam have also been hit by injuries. The Trolley Talk Blog reported Wyatt Gale, Jarrett Malchow and Steven Fiust are injured and are joined by Jeremy Hite and Alex Williams.

According to the Trolley Talk Blog, Hite has established himself as a good penalty killer and shot blocker recently, and plays well on a line with Steven Fiust and Josh Pilon. Williams, the captain, is equally as important on the back end. He provides a steady presence and a calmness that is valued by his teammates and coaches. Pettitt is wearing the C in Alex’s absence.

Coyotes roll on and off ice

The Coyotes, like the Steam, have gotten off to a strong start with seven wins in eight matches.

Coyotes assistant coach Carl Poole said they have enjoyed watching the team come together.

“They faced a few tough situations in games,” said Poole. “They’ve really bounced back from it. Moreso than I’ve seen with other teams. Especially in the third period. That seems to kind of be our period right now. We seem to be gelling the best and getting our feet moving. We have a team here that is really close with each other. They do most everything together. That reflects on the ice and off the ice in the community.”

The Coyotes are led by defenceman Daniel Stone with five goals and 18 points in eight games. Four of his five goals have come on the power play and two are winners. Closely behind Stone is Judd Repole with 16 points. In goal, Adam Jones has won five of six games and has a .928 save percentage with a 2.14 goals against average.

Poole said a strength of the group is their goaltending and veterans.

“Our team leaders, they’ve really been stepping up and kind of showing the younger guys the way,” he said. “Which is important because we have 12 rookies this year. We’re half and half this year right now.”

The Coyotes weakness is their struggles in the first half of some games.

“We need to work on is making sure that we’re ready to go right off the bat,” he said.

The Coyotes open the weekend hosting the Chase Heat, 6-4-0, at the Osoyoos Sun Bowl at 7:35 p.m.

They hit the road for Armstrong to face the North Okanagan Knights, 4-5-0-1, in a divisional matchup Saturday at 7:30 p.m.