The Summerland Steam will face the Osoyoos Coyotes in Junior B division finals, now that the Steam won a series against the Kelowna Chiefs.
It took seven games to determine the outcome of the division semifinals between the Steam and the Chiefs. This has been the only playoff series so far this season to run the full seven games.
Going into the series, the Steam were the second-place team in the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference: Okanagan Division in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
The Steam had a record of 34 wins, nine losses, one tie and three overtime losses in regular season play, while the Chiefs finished their regular season with 20 wins, 22 losses, two ties and three overtime losses.
John DePourcq, head coach of the Steam, said the two teams had a good series.
While the Steam were well ahead of the Chiefs in regular season play, DePourcq said past performance cannot be used to predict a playoff series.
“When you get to the playoffs, it’s a whole new season,” he said.
He added that the Steam faced challenges during the playoffs. Several players were injured or sick during certain key games.
Kelowna also faced similar challenges.
“It was a very hard-fought series,” DePourcq said. “Both teams were fighting for their lives.
The first game, on Feb. 24 at the Summerland Arena, ended in a 3-2 win for the Chiefs.
The following evening, in Summerland, the Steam responded with a 4-2 victory.
The action moved to the Rutland Arena for the next two games.
The Steam won the Feb. 27 game with a score of 3-1, but on the following night, the game went to Kelowna, in a 7-4 decision.
Summerland won the March 2 game 6-2 on home ice, but on March 3, the Chiefs shut out the Steam in a 6-0 game.
The final game was held in Penticton on Saturday evening. Summerland won that game in a 2-1 decision.
The Steam will now advance to the division finals against the Osoyoos Coyotes.
The Coyotes were the top ranked team in the conference. In their semifinal series, Osoyoos defeated the fourth-place North Okanagan Knights in four games.
DePourcq said the Steam and the Coyotes will face a challenging series. During the regular season, the two teams were closely matched.
The series began with games in Osoyoos on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The two teams will face each other in Summerland on Friday and Saturday, with both games beginning at 7:30 p.m.
If additional games are needed, they will be played on Monday in Osoyoos, on Tuesday in Summerland and on Wednesday in Osoyoos. Games in Summerland begin at 7:30 p.m. while games in Osoyoos begin at 7:35 p.m.
The winner of this series will go on to face the winner of the a series between the Kamloops Storm and the Chase Heat.