Paulsen Lautard felt relieved as he tapped in his 16th goal of the season for the Summerland Steam.
The goal was big as it gave the Steam a two-goal cushion against the Kelowna Chiefs at home Sunday afternoon. It also made him the all-time leading goal-scorer in the franchise’s history, with 58.
“A lot of weight off my shoulders. I looked up and all the boys were happy about it. It made me happy too,” said Lautard, who finished off a two-on-one play with line mate Jack Mills to beat Joshua Tetlichi. “I’ve been in the league for about four years now. It’s been a long time coming.”
On Dec. 5, 2015, the Midway product tied former teammate Dylan Burton for the franchise lead with 57 goals. It took him eight games to set a new mark. He scored another in the third period in a 5-2 final. In front of a crowd of 141, Lautard said it was good to get it at the Summerland Arena.
“With the win and getting it from my linemate Jack Mills, it felt good,” said Lautard.
The pair are close as they have played together over the past two seasons, minus a two-month stretch last year when Lautard joined the Trail Smoke Eaters. He got his taste of the BCHL playing in 15 games and collecting two goals and six points, but decided to return as he felt it just wasn’t his time.
“I had a good time, but I think my home right now is in Summerland,” said Lautard. “We got a big push here for my last year.”
Mills, named the 2014-15 Okanagan Division rookie of the year, said it’s easy to play with the captain.
“We got pretty good chemistry,” said Mills, who has 20 goals and 44 points in 33 games to lead the Steam. “Right off the start we hit it off pretty good. I like playing with him. He’s a great guy and good player.”
Mills said Lautard has great vision with a big body (listed at 6-1, 205 pounds by www.eliteprospects.com) and works hard. He added the 20-year-old is hard to knock off the puck and gets in the areas he needs to. He has also learned from Lautard, who tells him any time he makes a mistake or explains where he feels Mills should be on the ice.
“He is a great captain. Every guy loves him in the room,” said Mills. “It’s a big achievement for him. I’m proud of him.”
Lautard’s junior career began with the Penticton Lakers of the Okanagan Hockey Academy, now known as the 100 Mile House Wranglers. In 37 games with the Lakers, Lautard scored 11 goals. After a tough season, he contacted Steam general manager Gregg Wilson. He made the team and has loved being in the Steam organization ever since.
One thing Lautard loves about playing for the Steam is that his family and friends from home come to watch. He feels that he has been playing well, but pucks haven’t been bouncing his way. He emphasized that it’s not how you start, but how you finish. He wants to keep building momentum towards the playoffs, which the Steam are 21 games away from.
Steam assistant coach Wade Parker said Lautard, who is second on the Steam with 34 points, has been a leader on and off the ice. Along with being a great kid, Parker said he’s a talented player.
“One thing, he is a man child out there. He is bigger and stronger than most guys,” said Parker. “He can skate and he can protect the puck. He has a great nose for the net. He’s creative and he really shoots the puck well.”
Because of those skills, Lautard is able to draw players to him. He creates space for himself and his teammates while having the ability to find the puck. When he is going well, he is tough to stop.
“I’m very happy for him,” said Parker.
Steam too hot for Chiefs
Paulsen Lautard received a lot of attention during the Summerland Steam’s 5-2 win over the Kelowna Chiefs on Sunday.
Lautard became the Steam’s franchise leader in goals with 58. However, it was linemate Jack Mills who potted the winner at Summerland Arena that afternoon. Mills, featured on the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League website under Who’s Hot in the KI, added two assists including the one on Lautard’s franchise leading goal to help improve the Steam to 22-12-0-0-1.
The home side opened the scoring on a tally by Josh Pilon, who scored his first goal since joining the Steam from the Revelstoke Grizzlies. The Chiefs then used a power-play to even the score on a goal by Jonathan Lee. The Steam then put in two more from Riley Pettitt and Mills, to give them a 3-1 cushion. The Chiefs struck once more at 15:01 of the second period on the power-play again. Lautard then sealed the result with two tallies. Along with Mills, Keenan Scott and Adam Jones picked up assists on those goals.
“We played pretty good. We got pucks deep and a big thing was also our discipline,” said Lautard, the Steam captain. “If we’re disciplined, we outwork the team, we are going to win. It showed today.”
The match didn’t lack chippiness, especially after the whistles with some scrums in front of the goalies.
“They try to be a little chippy and try to draw us into their type of game,” Lautard added.
“I was very happy with the way the guys played,” said Steam assistant coach Wade Parker, who filled in for coach John DePourcq, who was away watching his son play with the Bentley University Falcons in Colorado. “They worked their butts off. That’s how we have to win hockey games. We were fast, we were physical and we outshot them. Everything we did, we got pucks to the net. It was a good game for us.”
Matt Huber made 13 saves for his 11th win.