The Summerland Steam, in white, and the Princeton Posse faced each other in a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in January. The Posse defeated the Steam 3-1. (Summerland Review file photo)

The Summerland Steam, in white, and the Princeton Posse faced each other in a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in January. The Posse defeated the Steam 3-1. (Summerland Review file photo)

Summerland Steam preparing for fall hockey season

Despite COVID-19, organizers of Junior B team anticipate league play this fall

While the COVID-19 pandemic put the spring hockey schedule on ice, the general manager of the Summerland Steam expects to see a hockey season in place some time in the fall.

“We have full plans on having a league,” said Steve Hogg, general manager of the Junior B team.

However, the season will likely be shorter than in the past. Hogg expects the season might not begin until mid-October.

In addition, the pandemic has eliminated events such as games, team practices and spring training camps.

This means scouting and recruiting players will be more difficult than in the past.

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Instead of being able to see the players in action, Hogg said coaches will view videos of the players and will then follow up with calls to references.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to have a camp in the late summer,” he added.

At present, the directives from the province have prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people and have required a physical distancing of two metres between people. In addition, arenas and other recreation and fitness centres have been closed in order to slow the spread of the virus.

While restrictions are expected to be relaxed in the coming weeks, the province has said changes will be made slowly.

“This is unchartered territory for everyone,” Hogg said. “It’s a challenge on a lot of different levels.”

In the last season, the Steam finished regular season in third place in the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference: Bill Ohlhausen Division of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.

The team had a record of 22 wins, 22 losses, one tie and four overtime losses during the regular season.

In playoff action, the Steam lost to the Princeton Posse in the division semi-finals. as the Posse won four games of the best of seven series.

In the division finals, the Posse were leading the Kelowna Chiefs two games to one before COVID-19 resulted in the cancellation of the rest of the hockey playoff series.

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