With 16 goals in 23 games, Linden Gove has been a pleasant surprise for the Summerland Steam.
Because of that, Steam assistant coach Tim Mills has no desire to sit down and get in Gove’s head as to why he is producing so well. He has already equaled his single-season career high point total of 20 points and has done it in 22 fewer Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) games.
However, Mills did take a shot at guessing why the Summerland native is lighting the lamp. “It’s age No. 1,” says Mills. “It’s maturing, it’s being in the league for a few years and understanding the pace, understanding all sorts of things.”
This is Gove’s third full season in the KIJHL. He made his debut in 2015-16 with the Princeton Posse, the only other team he has played for. He saw action in eight games, putting up four points. The following year he posted seven points in 45 games, then last season 13 goals and 20 points in 45 games. Mills expected that he would produce, but the coaching staff just didn’t expect it to be this good. They knock on wood that it continues.
Gove’s total pits him 12th in the KIJHL amongst the leagues best snipers. Bear Hughes of the Spokane Braves, leads the league with 27 goals in 24 games. Goal 16 was his second of the night against the 100 Mile House Wranglers on Nov. 23 and sent it into overtime, where captain Everett Scherger put in the dagger. Gove said it felt good to get the equalizer and he’s just happy they are going in. “Just keep shooting the puck and hope they keep going in,” he says. “I’m feeling better. I’m feeling like the team is doing well. When you are playing with guys that are competing just as hard, working their butts off out there, it makes things easy for you.” When asked about his success, Gove did credit some to being older, but also having more confidence on the ice. There’s more to it though. “Picking my head up and looking a bit more for things,” he explains. “Just trying to learn from every situation and every mistake as you can. Even mistakes I make this year, and from years past, just trying to get better every day and every week of practice.”
Gove gives plenty of credit to his teammates for his success saying it’s good knowing “you don’t have to yelling the whole time that you are out there.” Teammates know where he is going or what his tendencies are. He’s played with his younger brother Mitch, who has an assist on one of his goals and has chemistry with captain Everett Scherger and Cody Swan. The pair lead the way with four assists on his goals, but nine other players have collected assists on Gove tallies. Over the off-season, Gove says trying to stay on the ice as much as he could was important. He did skating camps with a local instructor and went to the gym a lot, including crossfit workouts. It was a solid summer of work.
Mills describes the five-foot-11, 165 pound forward as a quiet leader who goes about his business. Does the work. He adds its their expectation for 20-year-olds to be their best players. “If your best player is a goal-scorer, then he is doing his job,” says Mills “You can’t have a 20-year-old and gets you three goals. They have to be impact players.”
He has been a great surprise for the Steam. Gove is on the ice for every key situation. Mills says Gove was good last year for the Posse, but he wasn’t as dominant as now. One thing Mills has noticed is that Gove is releasing the puck immediately. Getting the shot off fast hasn’t allowed goalies to get set.
Mills added another reason Gove could be doing so well is there isn’t the pressure of trying to get to junior A. It could be going out with a bang by having fun. “Sometimes that’s what kids need,” says Mills.
Station notes: General manager Mike Rigby had discussed in a story published on summerlandsteam.com that a tough roster decision was looming to get down to 23 players by Dec. 1. Rigby says they don’t have that hard decision anymore after defenceman Alex Marchand decided to leave the team. “Alex had a meeting with (head coach) John DePourcq to discuss concerns he had with the team and himself,” says Rigby. “They were issues he wanted to address. He felt he could do it better at home with his family.” Marchand notified DePourcq on Nov.19 that he was going to return home in Calgary. In 19 games, Marchand collected five assists.
The Steam's next home game is Dec.7 when they host the Chase Heat. In partnership with Summerland Minor Hockey and IGA Summerland to the annual Fill the Net Food Drive. All donations will go to the Summerland Food Bank.