Headed into the weekend, the Summerland Steam had to know they were going to have to play their best hockey to pick up four points.
With the Sicamous Eagles coming in Friday looking to bust a five-game losing streak, and the Kimberley Dynamiters arriving Saturday looking to extend a win streak to double digits, Summerland was hoping to play spoiler in both instances.
On Friday night they were able to battle their own demons early in the hockey game and somehow find their way out to a 3-0 lead after the first period. They were awful in their own zone, but were bailed out by goaltender Eric Scherger any time the Eagles got close.
They floundered for nearly 15 full minutes before busting open the scoring with three goals, one each from Cody Swan (9), Morey Babakaiff (7), and Tyson Conroy (5) in a span of 3:07 to stake the home team to a 3-0 lead after a period.
From there they would cruise, allowing just one goal from Colby Sherlock of the Eagles in the second.
Steam captain Everett Scherger (5) would tack on an insurance goal in the third period, completing a 4-1 victory for the home team in their first game of the weekend.
The elder Scherger, Everett, had a goal and an assist in his return to the lineup after missing almost four weeks with an injury.
The younger Scherger, Eric, made 28 saves in the victory and earned a second consecutive start on Saturday night when the Kootenay Conference leading Kimberley Dynamiters visited the Summerland Arena.
“Eric was good on Friday night, so we decided to go back with him and give him one of the biggest tests of the season on Saturday,” Said Head Coach John Depourcq. “It’s nice to have a young guy pushing for starts and net time, and it’s good to see his hard work and dedication pay off. We’re very lucky that we have two goaltenders on our team that make our decision as coaches difficult every night.”
In the game of the year to date, the Steam and the Dynamiters went blow for blow in what turned out to be a 7-6 double overtime victory and the 10th win in a row for the visitors.
The Dynamiters jumped out to an early 2-0 lead thanks to a couple of power play goals from Jackson Bohan (4) and Keegan McDowell (14), only for Summerland to come back and tie the game before the end of the first period. Morey Babakaiff (8) scored on a breakaway just :14 after the McDowell goal, and Everett Scherger (6) potted a power play goal of his own with just over three minutes remaining to send the teams to the dressing room tied at 2.
From there, the see-saw battle continued all night long. Brandt Bertoia (8) scored the Nitros lone even strength goal of the night to give the Nitros the lead early in the second, only to be answered by Zack Cooper’s sixth of the season on a Summerland power play later in the period. Braiden Koran (8) would add another power play goal for the Nitros before the end of the period to give the visitors a 4-3 lead headed to the third and final frame.
Summerland would start the third with a purpose, however, and rattle off three straight goals to take a 6-4 lead into the late stages of the game. Babakaiff would net his second of the game and ninth of the season to tie the game at four just 3:46 into the period, before Cory Loring would add his ninth at 8:46 to give the Steam the lead. 16-year old Tyson Conroy would put home his sixth of the season a short time later to extend Summerland’s lead to two with 8:50 to play in the third period.
The power play continued to roll for the Dynamiters in the closing minutes and gave them a chance to tie the game. Cam Russell scored his fourth of the season (in just six games) to bring the Nitros within one as the clock ticked down. Russell was able to find a lane through a maze of bodies and beat a standing Eric Scherger, who didn’t see the puck until it was by him.
In the final minute, Summerland was penalized when forward Cody Swan fell on a puck with just :18 remaining on the clock.
The Nitros would capitalize on the power play, when leading scorer Brock Palmer tucked a puck behind Eric Scherger to tie the game at six with :10 on the clock.
Scherger then picked the puck up out of his net, and was given a Delay of Game penalty for turfing it over the glass.
The Steam entered overtime and were able to kill that penalty, but another to Tyson Conroy late in the second overtime proved costly. Brock Palmer finished the job, collecting his second goal of the night to seal the victory and the 10th win a row for the Nitros. He was able to locate a rebound off a long shot by Cam Russell, and tuck it in to secure the victory for the visitors. They moved their record to a Kootenay Conference best 19-3-0-0 in 22 games played.