The Summerland Steam Junior B hockey team is proving itself a force to be reckoned with on the ice this year.
With a record of 16 wins, six losses and two overtime losses, the team is in second place in the Okangan Shuswap Conference: Okanagan Division in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
John DePourcq, coach of the team, said the Steam are in a tight division, with strong performances from each of the five teams.
“It makes for exciting hockey,” he said.
This year, the Steam and the Osoyoos Coyotes have been in an ongoing battle for the top spot in the division. The Coyotoes have 18 wins and five losses to date.
DePourcq said Osoyoos is a strong team with good coaching and a winning tradition. Summerland has improved each year since the team was formed in 2011. In 2013 and 2014, the team advanced to the Division Semifinals, and in 2015, the Steam were in the Division Finals.
Earlier this year, the Steam advanced to the conference finals before losing to the 100 Mile House Wranglers.
For the 2016 to 2017 season, the Steam have 14 returning players, bringing experience to the team.
“It’s nice to have returning players on our team,” DePourcq said. “It’s a great team with some depth and maturity.”
The team has four lines, with plenty of talent on each one, he added.
DePourcq said the Steam players are constantly working to improve as a team — a goal that requires hard work every day of the season.
“They have a lot of fun out there together,” he said, “but we’re always looking for ways to get better.”
He is working on discipline with the players, reminding them not to take undisciplined penalties during their games.
“You’re not going to win in the penalty box,” he said.
The next action for the Steam is on Friday, Dec. 2 when they face the North Okanagan Knights in Armstrong. The next home game is on Saturday, Dec. 3, when they host the Kelowna Chiefs. Both games begin at 7:30 p.m.