Low turnout at Steam home games

While the Summerland Steam have enjoyed a strong season, the Junior B team has not managed to draw significant crowds this year.

While the Summerland Steam have enjoyed a strong season, the Junior B team has not managed to draw significant crowds this year.

Until a loss to Osoyoos on Saturday, the team had a nine-game winning streak.

Summerland is in second place in the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference: Okanagan Division in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.

The Steam are close behind the Osoyoos Coyotes.

Gregg Wilson, owner and general manager of the team, said there were just 78 paying fans at a home game against the North Okanagan Knights on Nov. 24.

The highest attendance this year has been 224 people.

For the team to break even on its costs, Wilson said an average turnout of 250 paying fans is needed. So far this year, the average is 148.

The low fan turnout is puzzling, Wilson said. In other communities with a Junior B hockey team, fan support is much greater.

At a recent game in Williams Lake, 750 fans attended.

Cody Egilson is the only Summerland player on the team, but many more are from the Central Okanagan and South Okanagan.

Wilson said 14 of the players on the roster live between Kelowna and Penticton and are able to live at home while they play on the team.

The level of play is strong, Wilson said.

“We’ve got a really good group,” he said. “By far they’re the most talented group we’ve had, and they’re playing as a team.”

He added that John DePourcq, coach of the team, deserves credit for developing a strong hockey team.