A home-and-home set between the Summerland Steam and Kelowna Chiefs looks to be a first round playoff matchup.
Eighteen points seperate the teams that are firmly entrenched in second (Steam) and third (Chiefs) place in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) Okanagan Division standings. The two met in last season’s playoffs with the Steam winning.
The Steam host the Chiefs Saturday at Summerland Arena at 7:30 p.m. The last time the teams met on Jan. 21, the Steam won 4-3 in overtime and two fights broke out in the opening frame. There was another fight in the second period.
“They try to have success with physical play,” said Steam coach John DePourcq on the Chiefs. “They try to intimidate us. It’s a battle.”
DePourcq described their games as “playoff hockey.”
“It is going to be intense and entertaining hockey for fans,” said DePourcq, a two-time Okanagan Division Coach of the Year winner. “They are a hard working team and come at you hard.”
DePourcq wants to see his team match the Chiefs’ intensity and hopes their skill will take over. The Steam coach wants the players to be ready from the drop of the puck. DePourcq loves this time of year and said so much can be learned. The key for him heading into the weekend is the Steam playing disciplined hockey. The Steam have the sixth best power play executing at nearly 22 per cent (51 goals on 234 chances), while the Chiefs has the seventh best penalty kill at 84 per cent (allowing 46 goals on 275 opportunities).
The Chiefs have struggled on the road at 5-12-2-0, while the Steam are 16-2-1-1 on home ice.