Junior hockey returned to Summerland in a winning way as the expansion Steam won their opening game of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League against their presumptive arch-rivals, the Penticton Lakers, the franchise which once played in Summerland under the nickname of Sting.
Gerry Hol powered the Steam with two goals and one assist as Summerland beat Penticton 4-2 at Summerland Arena in front of 425 spectators, who watched Mayor Janice Perrino drop the ceremonial puck to mark the occasion of the Steam’s first ever game.
Appropriately enough, Summerland Josh Spence’s scored the team first goal in the dying seconds of the first period to give the Steam the lead heading into the second period, where Hol collected the first of his three points of the evening by joining with Jordan McCallum to assist on the goal by Andrew Stack, doubling Summerland’s advantage.
Hol then gave the Steam a 3-0 lead with his first goal of the evening.
While Kale Erickson and Austin tallied for the Lakers during the third period to narrow the gap, Hol’s second goal with one minute left rounded out the scoring.
Summerland’s Connor Demelo stopped 32 out 34 shots to earn the victory.
Demelo stood between the pipes the next evening as the Steam hosted the Osoyoos Coyotes.
After a scoreless first period, the teams were tied at 1-1 as they headed into the final period, where the Steam conceded two goals within 16 seconds on the way to surrendering five goals during the period. Stack scored two goals for the Steam in a losing effort that drew 310 fans.
General manager Jonathan Bowman said the weekend marked a good start for the team on and off the ice, despite Saturday’s loss.
“We have come a long way and we are optimistic that the team is progressing,” he said.
Fans will be able to measure that progress again after Wednesday’s game against the Coyotes in Osoyoos.
The team will return home Saturday, when they host the Princeton Posse at Summerland Arena.