The Summerland Steam are chugging into the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League playoffs on a seven-game winning streak.
The Steam defeated the Kelowna Chiefs 3-1 Friday to clinch the Okanagan Division and followed up with an 8-4 win at home against the Osoyoos Coyotes, Saturday to end their regular season.
Easton Bodeaux led the Steam with three assists, while captain Daylan Robertson popped the winner with 3:24 remaining in the second period. Steam coach John DePourcq said his players did the little things right and kept it simple to snag the two points Saturday.
The Steam open the KIJHL playoffs against the North Okanagan Knights, who finished 24-26-0-2, starting Tuesday and Wednesday at the Summerland Arena at 7:30 p.m. DePourcq said they are a hard working team. In their regular season series, the Steam outscored the Knights 29-23, winning five of the eight games after losing the first two games.
“Playoff hockey is about trying to make fewer mistakes than the other team,” said DePourcq. “Competing the way you need to. Discipline plays a big part of it.”
The Steam are confident in their goalies, Brett Huber and Darren Hogg, who brings junior A experience after playing in Langley last season. The tandem combined to allow 152 goals against, third lowest in the league. DePourcq split games between the goalies, but with Hogg sick with the flu, Huber will get the early action. “Huber played the last two games this weekend and had a great weekend and I’m going to keep going with him,” said DePourcq.
Robertson, the Steam’s captain, expects a gritty game from the Knights. It’s how the Armstrong-based team has played the Steam all season.
“They tend to capitalize on their opportunities when we give it to them,” said Robertson, who plays on the top line with Kienan Scott and Paulsen Lautard.
One thing Robertson said they learned from the Knights is that a game is never over. Both teams made habits of coming back.
“It’s going to be a good one,” said Steam defenceman Josh DaCosta. “North Okanagan is one of the tougher teams in the division. Even though they came fourth, they are going to put up a hell of a fight.”
DaCosta said it’s important for them to make simple plays and get pucks behind the Knights defence. DaCosta, a Penticton minor hockey product, is excited for the playoffs and the intensity that comes with it.
“It’s a completely different game,” he said
While the Steam had success against the Knights in the regular season, Olli Dickson said they have to forget about that.
“Anything can happen in the playoffs,” said Dickson, who is motivated to raise his game.
Dickson said forwards need to support defensively and that their goaltending has to shutdown the Knights, who have offensive weapons. Brett Hawrys led the Knights with 18 goals in 52 points, while Ryan Kelm had 13 goals in 36 games and Blake Culbert led in the assist category by one over Hawrys with 30.
The Knights have seven players that finished with 10 goals or more, but none who hit 20. The Steam also have seven scorers in double digits, four of whom finished with 20 or more goals. Scott is the Steam’s lone 30-goal man with 32 in 39 games.