It took seven games of intense hockey action and determination for the Summerland Steam to win the playoffs against the Kelowna Chiefs.
The best of seven series ended with a 2-1 win over the Chiefs at the Summerland arena on Saturday evening.
The victory came in front of a record crowd of 450 people.
Both Summerland goals were scored by Jack Mills, who had broken his orbital in the playoff game against Kelowna on Feb. 24.
Mills was named home star of the game on Saturday.
The playoff series had been defined by strong play from both teams.
Earlier, the games had included a 10-4 domination and a come-from-behind 7-6 overtime victory for the Steam.
Gregg Wilson, co-owner and general manager of the Steam, said the team improved as the series continued.
“I think we got stronger as we went along,” he said.
“Our boys never quit.”
Prior to the game on Saturday evening, Tim Hogg, director of media and marketing for the Steam, expressed confidence in the team.
“This is a group that can get the job done. They know it and everyone around them knows it,” he said.
He added that the Summerland and Kelowna teams both worked hard throughout the playoff series.
“No matter what happens tonight, neither team should leave the Summerland Arena hanging their head,” he said. “Both have performed valiantly.”
The Summerland Steam have been in playoff action in the past two years, In the 2012 to 2013 season, the team finished fourth in regular season play and lost to Kelowna in six games in the playoffs.
Last year, the Steam were first in their division in the regular season, losing to the North Okanagan Knights in a seven-game playoff series.
The win on Saturday means Summerland has advanced to the division finals against the top-ranked Osoyoos Coyotes.
In regular season play, the Coyotes finished solidly in first place in the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference: Okanagan Division of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League while the Steam had a strong second-place finish.
The Coyotes finished with a record of 42 wins, seven losses, two ties and one overtime loss while the Steam finished with 28 wins, 19 losses, two ties and three overtime losses.
Throughout the course of the exhibition and regular season play, the Coyotes have been undefeated against the Steam.
The two teams faced each other twice in exhibition play and eight times in regular season action.
Two of the games ended in ties while the rest were wins for the Coyotes.
Despite the strong showing by Osoyoos, Wilson expects a strong showing from the Steam.
“Anything can happen in playoff games,” he said. “It should be a heck of a series.”